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Anzeige/Ad* I could not be more excited to share a very special review today: The Brand Hannah organic reusable pads aren’t just great for the environment, they also happen to look cute and offer a sustainable, reliable alternative to disposable pads.
A menstruating person will go through approximately 40 years of menstruating cycles in their lives – for me, it’s already been a staggering 31 years (gosh!), having gotten my first period at age 11. Given that we go through 12 menstrual cycles per year, that adds up to approximately 480 menstrual cycles. And depending on your flow, you may need 14 or more pads (and/or tampons – hey there to all my fellow heavy flowers who have to “double-pack”!). Now add all of these up for those 480 cycles and… Well, it’s slightly uncomfortable to visualise that amount of waste, to be honest.
Sustainability has been a hot button topic these past years, what with the world literally burning right now thanks to our past (and present) careless attitude towards our planet. Although I am always careful not to fully fall for the myth that we as individuals can safe the world by consuming less and using sustainable products – the real push for climate rescue has to come from those large corporations that produce the most waste and pollution – I do think that waste reduction and sustainable, eco-friendly consumer choices can make a difference.
So, when The Brand Hannah reached out to me to try out and review their organic reusable pads, I was super excited: not only could I finally give more eco-friendly period products a try, it was also a great opportunity to talk about my own experiences as a menstruating person, and the stigma surrounding what is such a natural part of roughly half the people on this planet!
My Period and I – a Tragedy in too many Acts
Like most people who menstruate, I will never forget my first period: I was 11 and pretty much the first person in my class to get her period. My mother is a Biology teacher, so it’s not like I wasn’t well-prepared to understand what was going on, and she was pretty amazing when it comes to making anything related to adolescent changes seem very natural and non-scary. I was actually visiting my dad and stepmother at the time, but my stepmom, too, is a pretty matter of fact kind of person, and she very kindly and calmly handed me a pad and explained how to use it.
So, that was all fine, really, but once school started (I had my very first period Day One on a Sunday), everything just felt so…awkward. Since none of my friends have had their periods yet, I felt uncomfortable sharing the big news, and I also soon discovered that I had been hit with a very heavy flow, which meant the dainty, smaller pads I had gotten from my stepmother weren’t enough at all. I ended up frantically stuffing toilet paper into my underwear and it was all just a bit of a mess. Add to this that I was already quite tall for my age and chubbier than most of the girls in my class, and you can imagine how severely self-conscious I felt.
Even though we in the West like to boast about how very modern and progressive we are – scoffing at menstruation huts and the like – the truth is that there is still shame and taboo surrounding menstruation. Pads and tampons are shamefully hidden from (cis) fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and there is just always this tendency to lower your voice when discussing “that time of the month.” Here in Germany, a group of cis men recently earned the scorn of the nation when they pitched disposable pink plastic gloves as a way to “hide” pads and tampons when changing them on the go. The fact that they even got funding for their enterprise from a group of businessmen shows how much work there is still to do.
For me, that heavy flow was always a source of anxiety, since not even the largest size pad plus extra super plus tampon could reliably keep me protected. One sneeze, one instance of getting up from the school or uni chairs while wearing a light-coloured pair of pants and boom, my pulse would increase with dread. I remember visiting a family member and staining their couch – the sense of utter shame when getting up from that couch to run to the bathroom still makes me want to cry for overwhelmed teenage me.
Period shame has definitely gotten less severe in recent years, and especially the open sharing of the most embarrassing symptoms related to our periods (hey there, more frequent stinky poops!) on social media makes me hopeful for younger people. Apart from something so central to our lives causing stress and anxiety in those of us who menstruate, this push to hide the fact that we are on our period also means all sorts of extra wastage: even without the extra pink gloves (that business never took off after it turned into a social media disaster), most pads and tampons have extra plastic wrappers to make sure no one can guess what “horrors” are hidden within, and the urge to soak up, hide, and hush over our monthly bleeding has led to menstrual products that often use non-biodegradable and even potentially toxic materials.
The Problems with Disposable Period Products and The Brand Hannah Mission
In order to prepare for this review and learn more, I read an eye opening article by The National Geographic about the history of disposable period products and why they ended up being so plastic-heavy. The article connects this strongly to period stigma and taboo, and shows how open conversations about our periods and development of reusable, sustainable period products go hand in hand. I probably never would have even known about menstrual cups, for instance, if one of my flatmates in New Zealand hadn’t started using one (this was a good 10 years ago). For now, I’m still a bit hesitant to use them, frankly, but the more informative and honest reviews I see, the more open to trying them out I’m becoming.
I cannot claim to be a super conscientious shopper when it comes to zero waste and sustainable choices – I try, like most people in Germany, to reduce plastic packaging as much as possible: it is customary to bag your own groceries here using reusable cotton bags and carry net bags for fresh produce instead of using those plastic bags that are especially toxic to our ocean health. But I will probably never be a morally flawless consumer, because ultimately, you can’t be a fully ethical consumer under our current capitalistic system, with large corporations as the overwhelmingly main culprits in the global pollution crisis.
That being said, I really want to make more and more smaller changes in terms of sustainability, as I really feel even the smallest contributions can be helpful. And when I read that us menstruating peeps create roughly 200,000 tonnes of waste in the US alone, I was pretty shocked to be honest. As I mentioned earlier, period products have been designed to “hide our shame” – noiseless wrappers, extra layers to wrap up everything neatly in a little package to dispose discreetly, tampons designed so that we, good forbid, don’t have to touch our messy, bleeding selves when inserting them… Well, all of that lead to extra plastic waste. While our (great-)grandmas used washable pads and “period belts” to hold them in place, we have gotten used to throw out our used products as quickly as possible, relieved to not having to touch that shameful, supposedly smelly mess.
Most of these views of our periods as gross really just stem from patriarchal misconceptions, and as long as you practise good daily hygiene, your vagina and vulva are very clean and very smart, self-regulating parts of your body at any point in the menstrual cycle. Funnily enough, this idea of periods being gross and menstruating people, women in particular, being unhygienic if they don’t hide and perfume over the evidence of their menstruation, usually seems to come from people who leave skid marks in their underwear, hmmm. Personally, I am more than ready to unlearn my own shame around what is natural to my cis female body, and what really shouldn’t be seen as shameful when it is such a vital and natural monthly part of so many people’s lives.
This is what I love about The Brand Hannah, a young brand specialising in sustainable period products: they are really passionate about tackling period stigma and having an open conversation around both the realities of menstruation as well as the ecological impact that our product choices can make. Founded in 2005 and based in Korea, where periods are seen as a private, largely taboo subject (just like in most Western countries, really), hannahpad has been a leading brand for cloth pads for a while and is now available for global shipping, yay.
The Brand Hannah Organic Reusable Pads – My Review and Care Tips
Disposable pads have had a bad rep for years, having been seen as uncomfortable and impractical. As someone who needs both a pad and a tampon during her heavy days, especially at night, I’ve had been intrigued by reusable pads for a while, but never really found a design that convinced me it could hold my flow. Sure, those lucky people with their light flow and mere 3-4 days of menstruation could happily dance around in their white jeans and small pad sizes, but me? I was sceptical, for sure!
But when I received my The Brand Hannah organic reusable pads, I had an instant positive feeling about them. See, they have this really cool design that is so much more modern and well thought out than other reusable pad designs I’ve seen online. Firstly, The Brand Hannah pads are made with certified organic, 40 count interlock cotton weave fabric instead of the not as absorbable fleece or terry cloth that many brands use. The outside of their pads are made with a colourful, TPU coated material that is leak proof. My sister, who has two kids, instantly recognised the material as similar to the environmentally friendly cloth diaper pull-up “shells” used on top of the cloth that are very popular among German moms! Even the little buttons on the pad wings – meant to hold the pads in place in your underwear – are well thought out, made out of recyclable plastic instead of metal, to minimise allergic risks.
What I personally liked best about the pads is their mid-section core, which feels almost like it’s filled with a gel-like material. In fact, it’s basically an extra absorbable layer made up of multiple thin organic cotton layers. It feels thick and soft, and you can tell it has been designed to hold a good amount of fluid. The Brand Hannah offers 6 different reusable organic pad sizes and 12 pattern choices, with new patterns being added regularly. Sizes range from panty liners and extra thong shapes to the largest Super Ultra Overnight.
As I said, I have a pretty heavy flow, and perfectly enough, my period started a few days ago, right when I received the Hannah pads, so I could test them out instantly! The Brand Hannah sent me three sizes in very cute patterns, my favourite pattern of course the lovely pink and red flowers, being a fan of anything pink. I also loved that the pads come in reusable toiletry zip bags! I received the sizes small (with cute beige and green flowers), medium (pink flowers!) and overnight/large (with a beautiful floral pattern in dark blue). Given my flow, I instantly grabbed the largest size, trying it out during the day.
The first thing I noticed was how soft and comfortable the pads are, compared to the often rough feel of the plastic pads I usually use. I often get rashes from the abrasive materials, so I am hoping this softer cotton can help with that long-term. The little buttons on the pad wings are easy to snap into place, and the pads sit well in my underwear. The two smaller sizes even have little “knobs” on the outside of the pad to prevent them from slipping around.
It was a strange feeling at first wearing reusable pads, just unusual after decades of plastic pads. The pads feel so comfortable that I had a moment of panic thinking they might not soak up the blood, surely, being that thin – but, phew, they really are designed so well, and did a great job on my “monster period days” (day 2+3), though I did add in an additional tampon at night. I’m now on day 5 and switched to the medium pads, and I swear I’ve never had such few problems with rashes or itching during my period! The pads are made from non-dyed cotton, meaning they are more breathable and less toxin-heavy, helping to keep the delicate microbiome of our privates healthy and happy.
Now about the “reusable” part, a.k.a. the question of how to clean and care for your The Brand Hannah reusable organic pads: it’s not as complicated as you might think! I was definitely a bit worried that it would be a hassle, but luckily, the brand provides very detailed and super helpful care instructions. Basically, all you need to do is rinse them out with cold water to remove any discharge (someone on TikTok once called the period discharge “blood jellyfish” and that now always gives me a monthly laugh!), then use some soap or laundry detergent on the pad to help dissolve staining, and finally, soak the pads in cold water for a few hours. You can also machine wash them, but hand wash is recommended – always use cold water either way, since this is the best way to get out blood from fabrics.
Final Thoughts on The Brand Hannah Organic Reusable Pads and Where to Buy Them!
Once I started researching period stigma and the problems surrounding disposable period products, I really got into the topic, learning so much that I honestly hadn’t realised before. Learning about the history of period products and understanding how the reasons for making them so unsustainable are mostly rooted in patriarchal shaming of what is a natural part of so many people’s lives, I’m viewing my own tampon and pad consumption very differently.
I personally feel that learning more sustainable and eco-conscious habits takes time and patience, and it’s not always realistic to go from zero to 100 overnight. Small changes can make a big difference long-term, and practising new habits every day will add up if more and more people take those small steps. For me, using The Brand Hannah organic reusable pads and seeing how reliable they work makes me more open to also try out other sustainable period products, maybe their organic period underwear or even, gasp, their menstrual cups? All The Brand Hannah pads are made to last a good 2-3 years – they can last even longer, but it is advised that they be switched out after that time.
You can find the whole selection of sizes and patterns for the reusable organic pads at the English-language The Brand Hannah online shop – they even have a tester pad so you can try out if the pads are a good fit for you! They ship internationally to the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and there are also a number of international The Brand Hannah partners, e.g. in France.
There is currently the really great “BOGO FREE” sale running on the site with plenty of deals, and on top of that The Brand Hannah also gave me a personalised (non affiliate) discount code! Use “Ulrike” to get an extra 5% discount – the code is valid from Aug 28 through till Sept 28!
*This article is a promotion for The Brand Hannah, but all opinions are my own entirely!