With files from Lunapads
A drawer full of reusable cloth pads. Photo courtesy of Lunapads.
Today, we're talking about sustainable period products and hope to answer some common questions and concerns that may arise when considering a switch from disposable options to something more budget- and eco-friendly.
We first want to acknowledge that the products discussed in this article may not be suitable for your flow or fit. Please note that the information disclosed is not medical advice. If you have concerns about your period, please consult a medical professional.
Let's get started!
Think about the many products you may use during menstruation. Every month, it's likely that you will go through a seemingly endless number of pads and tampons, maybe take an ibuprofen or two, and then resupply. Right? Then, consider what the garbage can looks like at the end of your period. Plastic. Everywhere.
Periods are a fact of life, but the way we manage them can create a lot of waste.
It's estimated that 20 billion pads and tampons are thrown out every year. Pads and tampons are a major source of single-use plastics, including the materials inside tampons, in plastic applicators and in leakproof barriers. All that plastic sticks around.
It will take a conventional disposable pad approximately 500 years to break down in a landfill. This means that every pad and tampon ever used is still in a landfill somewhere. That's trash!
A reusable cloth pad next to waste from single-use plastics. Photo courtesy of Lunapads.
So, how can a person on their period make a more sustainable choice, if the opportunity is available to them?
Our advice: Be an informed consumer and ask for more from your period products. Question what you're putting in and, on your body, and question what you're tossing into the garbage.
It's effective to make more sustainable choices, if the means are available to you. Sustainable period products can often lead to a huge cost savings and a better period for you, as well as securing long-lasting, positive impact for the planet.
As we'll highlight below, there are three major kinds of sustainable period products: sustainable disposables, menstrual cups, reusable pads and period underwear.
1. Sustainable disposables: Not all disposables are created equally. If you love tampons, it's possible to source 100% organic cotton tampons that don't contain any added dyes, fragrances or plastics. Consider going applicator-free or look for tampons with cardboard applicators. Another option is to look for compostable products and try to choose an item that doesn't come in a plastic bag. When your period is done for the month, consider how you can sustainably dispose of your products.
2. Menstrual cups: A menstrual cup is a great, cost-saving solution, especially for a heavy flow. When you're first trying it out, we would recommend doing so in the shower. The website Put A Cup In It is a great resource to help you choose a cup that fits your shape, size and flow. Everyone's body is different, and you need to consider the height of your cervix, your age and lifestyle to find the best menstrual cup fit. It's even possible to trim the stem of your cup to make it more comfortable. Once you've safely and securely entered the menstrual cup, "give it a spin one it's in," to ensure the cup is open and sealed along the vaginal walls.
3. Reusable pads and undies: Finally, a shout out to reusable pads and period underwear! We've seen multiple advances in technology that have led to new wicking and absorbent fabrics that can outperform even your favourite disposables. When picking out one of these reusable products, choose something that fits your body size and check absorbency levels. Look for breathable fabrics and easy and clear care instructions. Try the item out in a safe place first if you're concerned about leaks.
Just as everyone's body is different, so is every period. Feel empowered to mix and match any of the sustainable options discussed in this blog post, in conjunction with the more traditional, disposable options. Use your preferred tampon or pad on your heaviest days and switch to a pair of reusable period underwear for overnight comfort.
If there's one piece of advice you take away from this post, know that choosing more sustainable products can be just as simple as thinking about how to improve your period experience, and the experiences of other people who menstruate.
Before clicking away, share your sustainable period product story on social media and tag @ThePeriodPurse. Don't forget to use #PeriodPositivity.
For more information about sustainable period products, visit https://lunapads.ca.
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According to Inc., millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. This will impact work environments in many ways: more tech, more flexibility, more collaboration and more social activism.
Millennials are driving corporate social responsibility (CSR) across multiple industries. They're spending their money on brands that practice CSR and are working for companies that are willing to do the same.
For example, millennials are twice as likely to provide a higher corporate culture rating when companies promote and engage in volunteer opportunities. Considering millennials will make up the majority of the workforce in just a few short years, valuing their experiences and input and keeping them engaged is tantamount to success.
The Period Purse recently became Canada's first official registered charity dedicated to achieving menstrual equity. In addition to making history, this means the opportunities for us to connect with companies across the country are endless.
Since we launched in February 2017, we've hosted approximately 20 Mini Drives, also known as third party fundraising blitzes, with corporate partners. With official charitable status under our belt, increasing the number of Mini Drives we host annually is on our agenda.
These Mini Drives are similar to our large-scale Spring and Fall Blitzes. Donation boxes are set up, period products are collected, sorted, packed and delivered and people unite to support an important cause. With Mini Drives, its local businesses and large corporations booking time with us, learning more about The Period Purse, bonding with colleagues outside of cubicle walls and normalizing period talk at work.
Mini Drives help The Period Purse get more donations to those who need them. Through these initiatives, we can educate large groups of people about period poverty and spread knowledge around menstrual equity, menstrual health and needs of those experiencing homelessness in Canada. Through this hands-on storytelling and impact-driving tactic, we can galvanize companies to enforce change within their building walls, making equal opportunity to experience healthy periods a priority at work at home and in society.
Further, positive employee morale leads to an increase in employee engagement and employer loyalty. Tax benefits, increased marketing opportunities and general community well-being are also all benefits of socially responsible companies. For more information, read through this case study that discusses the impact and influence of CSR at companies like Starbucks, Apple, SoulCycle and AirBnB.
Ever ready to increase community in corporate culture, The Period Purse's Mini Drives tick all CSR boxes, creating lasting benefits for businesses their employees and the communities in which they work.
For more information about hosting a Mini Drive at your place of work, please contact email@example.com.
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Tait Gamble at her high school graduation.
When I finished grade 12, I was worried that the enthusiasm and passion for menstrual equity we built up in my graduating year would waver when I left. In the past, some successful student-led fundraisers and initiatives had been popular one-offs. I couldn't imagine the same thing happening to the Menstruation Nation. But what if the student leaders became overwhelmed? What if the general student population didn't have the same initial passion? What if the problem seemed "solved"?
When I attended The Period Purse's East End packing party in Toronto this spring, I was excited to see many current students from my high school also there. With them, they brought bins and bins of products that had been donated by community members in a recent drive. A few alumni were there too. We sorted and packed alongside one another, catching up over piles of tampons and pads about the past year.
The Period Purse volunteers prepare supplies for a packing party.
After I graduated, the Menstruation Nation continued to gather an incredible amount of donations. Middle school students led an assembly on periods, and the conversations about menstruation in school were more frequent and open. When I went back to visit my high school, I spoke to the teacher advisor for the Menstruation Nation and learned that there had been a serious expansion of the group's work through the Diva Cup program.
Our goal was and remains simple safe and healthy periods for menstruators and open and healthy conversations about periods in schools. Our work has just begun.
For as long as these issues surrounding menstruation persist stigma, inequity, poverty, on a local, national and global scale the Menstruation Nation will be here, working hard to make a difference.
Tait Gamble and a group of Menstruation Nation members.
This journey has proved to me something I always believed: that once you learn about menstrual equity, it's not something you can forget about. The more you consider it, the more driven you become to do something about it.
Progress requires having even bigger conversations about period health, menstrual equity and, sometimes, uncomfortable and challenging conversations about one's privilege and unconscious bias.
Some student leaders have also shared with me that it can be initially uncomfortable for students of all genders to have open conversations about period health. Despite challenges, all agree that the whole community is better for it. Many of the young people and teachers I've had the pleasure of working with demonstrate curiosity, passion and a commitment to making a difference.
The Menstruation Nation continues to grow and influence other period-positive activists. I recently spoke with a student from a high school in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who had been researching menstrual equity for an independent passion project. Others have collected products and raised money to support menstruators in their community. I spoke with a post-secondary student interested in beginning a chapter at her college. She had questions about sustainable periods the very work the Diva Cup program is working to support.
In early 2019, the Menstruation Nation program expanded to include education outreach in schools. Our trained Menstruation Nation Educators give 45-minute presentations on reusable period products, period poverty and general menstruation information at public and independent schools across the GTA. One of our Menstruation Nation Educators is featured in the video below on frequently asked questions about reusable menstrual products.
Though the Menstruation Nation is a school program, the impacts extend beyond school walls. Students are helping other students learn, educating their families and helping menstruators in their local communities feel safer and healthier.
We are having conversations about sustainable periods, alternative products and privilege. We'll keep talking, questioning and brainstorming until we reach our goal of safe, healthy periods for menstruators and open conversations about menstrual health in schools. Join the conversation by starting a Menstruation Nation program or having a Menstruation Nation Educator give one of our period presentations at your school.
For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Join us at our inaugural Fundraiser. Period. event for Menstrual Hygiene Day
I am writing this on my period. As I type that, I recall the comments I've heard when talking about menstruation in public: "Ewww!" "Gross!" "Dirty!" Or, "You must be on your period," as shorthand for being seen as irrational, overemotional or violating some other gendered expectation of behaviour.
Periods happen for the majority of the population. Yet, we've been taught to feel uneasy about them, like they are a curse.
We hide our pads or tampons up our sleeves as we walk to the washroom at school or work. We ask a friend in a whisper if they have period supplies when we're out, or we don't ask, and stick wads of toilet paper in our underwear, instead.
One in three Canadian women have struggled to afford period products, according to a survey by Plan International Canada. If the survey had included trans and non-binary people too, that number may have been even higher, as LGBTQ people are more subject to discrimination and being socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said their period held them back from participating in an activity, and 70 per cent missed work, school or social events as a result of menstruation and unequal access to clean resources.
Looking ahead to Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, 2019, the goal of the initiative is to reduce the stigma and increase positive conversations around periods, focusing on menstrual equity. If we're not talking about periods and period products as basic needs, we're also not talking about the barriers to healthy, equitable periods for all.
Thanks to the advocacy work of The Period Purse's volunteers, alongside fellow activists like author Amanda Laird and city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto acknowledged its first Menstrual Hygiene Day in 2018. We successfully raised awareness about the importance of equitable menstrual health and working towards menstrual equity through advocacy, outreach and education.
On Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019, The Period Purse will host our inaugural Fundraiser. Period. event, raising critical dollars to support menstrual equity.
In the morning of May 28, Toronto Mayor John Tory will proclaim the city's second Menstrual Hygiene Day.
We will celebrate the progress we have made, such as the government looking to provide free period products to federal workers and the over 22,000 healthy periods The Period Purse has given marginalized menstruators. We will also acknowledge that we have many hills still to climb and lots of barrier-smashing left to do!
Fundraiser. Period. will include a comedy performance by Natalie Norman, The Crimson Wave podcast host and comedian; a silent auction; an on-site marketplace with period-positive items; an opportunity to have your portrait taken by Ranna Asha Photography; and more.
The community will unite at The Office Pub on John St., where we will rally together to support marginalized menstruators and reduce the stigma surrounding periods. All event proceeds will support The Period Purse's mission and vision.
Find the event details and buy your tickets on Eventbrite.
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Photo Credit: Megan Scott
A snapshot from the Sault Ste. Marie 2018 Fall Blitz. Left to Right: Volunteers Melinda Rainone, Anne Rainone, Megan Scott and Elise Nelson.
I can still remember the day I heard about The Period Purse. My sister-in-law, Brianne Hamilton, was volunteering at a packing party, when I was visiting her in Toronto. She came home from the event and told me all about it. Before I knew it, I was lying in bed that night, wide awake. My mind was racing with ideas, dreaming up ways to bring a chapter of The Period Purse to my community in northern Ontario - Sault Ste. Marie.
A year has gone by since the Sault Ste. Marie Chapter has opened its doors and the journey has been life-changing. The folks I have met along the way, the volunteers who've donated hundreds of hours, the people in the community who've reached out to help: All of this has made me realize how much good there is out there! It's also taught me about the gaps in menstrual equity that need critical mending.
Being a Chapter Leader, the most rewarding part of this experience has been witnessing how purses and bags filled with everyday period products can change the lives of many; can bring us closer to mending those gaps. Pads and tampons were things I would never have previously thought to donate, yet I've learned that the basic period product is something so many people who call the Soo home cannot access.
Since 2018, a challenge has proven to be developing a routine and strategy that work for the Sault Ste. Marie market. With a population of over 78,000, this is a big job, and I also know that one of my biggest areas of needs improvement is learning how to ask for and secure help.
Photo Credit: Megan Scott
Co-Chapter Leaders Jami DellaVedova and Megan Scott stand beside Tiffany Vanzant (middle) of Pauline's Place, a Sault Ste. Marie shelter, after bringing donations collected from the Fall Blitz in 2018.
According to Homeless Hub, 84 per cent of people in Sault Ste. Marie experiencing homelessness in 2016 had stayed in an emergency shelter. As of August 2010, the number of households drawing social assistance was at 2,159.
In Sault Ste. Marie, approximately 42.3 per cent of our community identifies as Indigenous, or as having Indigenous ancestry. From this data, Homeless Hub reports that in 2011, an estimated 19.2 per cent of the Indigenous population is in core housing need.
I am extremely grateful for Jami DellaVedova, Co-Chapter Leader, who has taken on the big role of helping us run things. From Spring Blitzes to Fall Blitzes, from packing parties to third party fundraisers, we've donated more time to supporting The Period Purse's mission and vision, here at home in the Soo, than we thought we would.
Since I started, I've volunteered more than 100 hours and the Sault Ste. Marie Chapter has donated over 380 healthy periods.
It's a lot of work, and time, but it's been one of the most rewarding challenges I've ever had.
I'm writing this post because I want to encourage The Period Purse's supporters to start a chapter in their community. It is a beautiful thing to be able to give back in this way, learning to remain proactive and professional in ever-changing, vital situations, committing to improving the lives of people in need and changing the way we think and talk about menstruation.
Photo Credit: Megan Scott
The Sault Ste. Marie community gathers at a local packing party, putting period packs and purses together for marginalized menstruators.
Through The Period Purse Sault Ste. Marie, I've learned the value of a good team, a good planner and a good cause. I've learned about leadership and lifelong impact, too.
Readers, to sign up or inquire about becoming a Chapter Leader, please contact email@example.com for more information.
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