Anyone who has read or watched The Handmaid's Tale recently will know that period products were referred to as 'napkins', to be requested from the housekeeper each month. So did the 'feminine napkin' brand Stayfree in 1974 - see the advertisement below! Well, the more modern sanitary towel - or period pad, as we like to say - has had a much-needed revamp courtesy of DAME. We've designed the most hi-tech pads to date and here's how...
PADS THE SAVIOUR
For millennia women have lined their underwear with materials to absorb their periods - papyrus, cloth, moss, buffalo skin, you name it. Held in place by all manner of contraptions.
You can almost still hear the sigh of relief when, in the 1960s, cheap self-adhesive throw-away 'sanitary pads' or 'sanitary towels' were launched. Convenient, comfortable, and hygienic - the world never looked back.
Today, disposable 'sanitary pads' (but we prefer to say period pads) are the world’s period product of choice. There are 2 billion people of menstruating age globally and the majority are using disposable pads.
In developed Western countries about 40% of women use tampons (and not exclusively) and about 60% use pads*. However, in the rest of the world, where most people live, alternatives to pads are practically non-existent.
PADS THE DESTROYER
The freedom disposable sanitary pads have given people has undoubtedly been a positive, but the billions of pads that now fill our oceans and landfill is too great a cost to the planet.
Regular pads are made of up to 90% plastic**, which means each packet of pads is equivalent to about 4 plastic bags. In the UK alone, 2.1 million pads are flushed down the toilet every day***. That’s 766 millions pads a year!
IT'S ALL IN THE BRIEF
We asked our customers what product DAME should tackle next, and the resounding answer was a reusable pad.
Reusable pads existed before disposable pads, and many new ones have been designed after the rise of disposables but in a cottage industry of sorts. None of these pads posed a credible alternative to the march of disposables.
We set out to design a reusable pad that could out-compete disposable pads - not on morals, but on performance. A pad that had all the comfort, convenience and hygiene of a disposable pad, but with none of the ocean-destroying pollution.
WE'RE ALL EARS
The key to doing this has been you; our community. Ever since people first backed our ideas on Kickstarter and continued to give us feedback and inspiration, we realised all we really needed to do as a company was listen.
We set out to understand what the perfect reusable pad needed to be from the perspective of a disposable pad user. We surveyed our community and held panels and workshops to understand the pain-points women had in switching away from single-use habits. We now had the brief, but we still needed the solution.
Luckily we had help there too. The UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, saw the potential of our pads to stop millions of pieces of plastic polluting the ocean, and funded DAME to develop a pad that fit the brief, and everyone's briefs, perfectly.
After months of design iterations, testing weird and wonderful materials, and prototyping with customers, the DAME team is overjoyed to unveil our reusable pads: softer, thinner, drier, greener.
Our patent-pending DAMEdry™ technology quickly draws away moisture, and allows us to combine soft natural fibres with wicking materials normally found in high-performance sportswear.
A dimpled, super-absorbent 3D core can absorb 10 times its weight in liquid in just 2 seconds. The whole pad is infused with natural antimicrobials to keep the pad fresh and odour-free. The result is a pad that means you’ll never need disposables again.
THE SOLUTION'S IN THE BAG
You told us that the barrier wasn’t just the pads themselves, it was what to do with them after they’d been used.
It turns out we weren’t the first people to ponder the best way to keep wet things wet, and dry things dry - and make sure the two never meet. Ever heard of a dry bag? It’s what surfers and kayakers use to keep their gear dry whilst in the water.
Turns out dry bags are also the watertight solution for storing used pads on the go, and soaking them after use (this allows you to then pop the pads in with your regular laundry wash). So we designed a super slick, compact dry bag that can be rolled up and kept in a backpack or bag.
WHAT MAKING THE CHANGE CHANGES
Our pads are designed to last several years. If you’re one of the 60% of women who use pads as their primary method of period care, then making the switch to DAME’s reusable pads will save more than 2,000 disposable pads from ending up in landfill or the ocean.
MAKE LOVE, NOT EMISSIONS
Even though forgoing disposables already makes a huge reduction in carbon emissions by just forgoing disposables, we’ve gone one step further. Our reusable pads are certified as Carbon Neutral Plus. That means we’ve measured the emissions at every single step of our pads’ lives: materials, production, transportation - even the washing of the pad over its lifetime. We then offset these emissions. We consider that doing our bit.
But the planet needs more than everyone just doing their bit right now. So we decided to offset the emissions twice.
That means when you go to wash your pads a couple of years from now, the emissions from powering your washing machine have already been offset. Twice.
GOOD FOR THE PLANET, AND YOUR WALLET
Five years of never having to buy another sanitary pad means you’ll not only be saving on pollution, you’ll be saving a lot of money too. If you switched out disposable pads for one set of DAME reusable pads you’d break even after about 8 periods. Even if you used three sets of reusable pads per period, the cost is still less than half of disposable pads.
That means years of free periods, and hundreds of pounds saved. The implications of this on period poverty are huge, and this will be a big focus of ours going forward.
ONE STEP CLOSER
We exist to improve the world of women. This means every woman around the world should have access to period products free from toxins, discomfort and negative language. We also believe those products shouldn’t damage or exploit our natural world.
Our mission as a company is to make periods positive for every woman. This product we hope, is a massive leap forward in achieving that mission.