Today I spoke with Freeda Thong, founder of Ecopads Australia. Ecopads are cloth pads for women to use when they have their period, reducing waste going to landfill and saving money on disposable pads.
How did you get started in your business?
I started out sewing them after I had been buying them myself. Cloth pads can be shockingly expensive. They are predominantly made in US and UK. There have been more in Australia in the last couple of years. My friends got interested and so I started selling them.
Since then I’ve opened up an ETSY shop and selling at markets around Brisbane. The reception has been interesting. Cloth pads aren’t really a mainstream thing. Our mums and grandmothers would have used them back in the day. Disposable is what people are using these days. So it’s the shock factor for women who see it for the first time.
Are your customers only in Australia?
We have customers in international countries. In the first week we sold to Vanautu, and New Zealand and we have now cold to Sweden, Ireland, Singapore, and UK.
Is there a greater level of effort required for cloth pads?
It’s not that big of an effort. You would change as per a disposable. The only difference is managing them. You soak in a bucket of water and then pop in a mesh bag and wash as per other items.
What about when you are out and about?
You can fold them up and pop them in a wet bag which has two pockets, one for dirty and one for clean pads.
Does that cause any issues with not soaking them straight away?
No it doesn’t affect the staining. So store in bag and then soak when you get home and wash them. Some women use different processes, some wash each one as they go, and some would soak them before washing.
What about women with a heavier flow, will they work for them?
There are three different sizes, a liner, a regular pad and an overnight pad for heaview flows. We are crowdfunding over the next 29 days to try and reach a target of $15,000. People can pre-purcahse or donate so we can get into eco stores and be stocked in the Australian marketplace.
What are the environmental benefits?
Disposable pads and tampons are part of the disposal goods which are the 1/3 top contributor to landfill. Food is first, followed by plastic, and 3rd is disposable nappies, pads, tampons and other convenience one use products. Disposable tampons and pads take 500 years on average to breakdown. Some companies have introduced biodegradable products, which break down more quickly in recent years.
Are there convenience benefits?
You don't get the problem of the wings sticking together or getting twisted.
How much do they cost and how much can you save?
Cost from $8 - $13 depending on absorbency and sizes or if you want a special fabric. They Last anywhere from 3 to 20 years depending on how you look after them. In a year if you got a starter kit for 3 pads, you would save on average $70 - $80.
To find out more about Ecopads Australia and the crowdfunding campaign visit www.ecopadsaustralia.com