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Green Pages » July/August ‘13

Greening Your Moontime

Wisconsin Sisters’ Business Helps Women Save Money Each Month

by Abbie Burgess

Did you know over 12 billion used disposable menstrual products are thrown away in the United States each year? As if such massive mountains of waste alone weren’t enough of an environmental concern, the manufacturing processes create by-products and pollution. From a health standpoint, the bleaching process produces a carcinogenic by-product called dioxin, which is found in trace amounts in tampons and sanitary pads and may stay in the body for twenty years after exposure. With monthly use, those trace elements can really add up.

No wonder many savvy women are turning to cloth pads for a greener, healthier solution! Cloth pads are available online and in many health food stores. One available option, Party in My Pants Pads, comes from a business run by two sisters in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Sisters Luci Daum and Lydia Daum partnered in 2008 to form Party in My Pants Pads. Why the name? “We were just brainstorming, and it’s the name that made us laugh the most! So it stuck,” explains Lydia.  “The ethos behind the product was to refuse the negative, shameful side of menstruation, to reinvent that for ourselves.”

Luci, a designer who has been sewing since age three, originally started making cloth pads just to give to her sisters and friends. “I’d been designing and sewing all my life. I wanted to make them for myself, since personally I had issues with disposables not working properly and being expensive,” she said. What began as a side project eventually became a livelihood, as she sold her colorful cloth pads to co-ops and, eventually, online.

The first eye-catching trait of Party in My Pants pads is the vibrant fabric designs — Luci and Lydia enjoy choosing bright and whimsical fabric for their products. The second striking thing is the pads are surprisingly light and thin — about the thickness of an ultrathin panty liner. I have to ask them — do these really work for customers who need super absorbency? “Our feedback from customers is that they do indeed work,” said Lydia. Party in My Pants Pads offers eleven different sizes, so the sisters attest there’s one to fit everyone. “If I’d seen my own product ten years ago, I never would have believed something so thin and tiny would work,” said Luci. “If people can just try it, they’ll understand.” Lydia agrees. “Once they try it, it’s a revelation.” That’s why they started their “Cloth Pad Curious” giveaway, offering their product to first-time buyers for just the cost of shipping.

The concept of washing pads instead of throwing them effortlessly into the trash does give some people pause, the sisters admit.  If the thought of washable, reusable sanitary products makes you squeamish, know that the pads come out clean just by tossing them in a regular load of laundry. Most cloth pad users are able to get over their initial misgivings. After all, disposable sanitary products aren’t sterile despite their bleached color and individual wrapping.

Every year, the sisters see their sales increase, and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing. “A lot of people are trying to save money and be environmental,” Luci said. “This is one piece of that puzzle.” She has a friend who was inspired to start recycling and being greener in other ways after she switched to cloth pads. “It’s the thing that could tip the scales,” Luci said.

While the co-owner sisters collaborate on many tasks, Luci heads the design and Lydia favors the copy writing and marketing.  Today, they work out of Wilmarth School, an 1891 Ashland schoolhouse they bought when it was slated for demolition after school district consolidation. Near the South Shore of Lake Superior, the renovated brownstone has plenty of space for the growing business. Party in My Pants Pads now includes five other employees who help meet the growing demand for the product, which can be purchased online or at select retailers, including Just Local Food in Eau Claire.

Along with cloth pads, other reusable menstrual products are rising in popularity, such as menstrual cups and sea sponges that are used in place of tampons. Luci and Lydia don’t feel threatened by these alternatives. Luci explained that both of these options are compatible with their products, and they all work toward the same goal of helping people save money and think in a more positive, Earth-loving way. “The main issue is options,” Lydia added. “Every woman should find what works for her.”

Sources: | Lydia and Luci Daum:  1-888-898-9496

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