Picture this: You're out for the day, in the middle of an errand, a meeting or just sitting in traffic. Suddenly, you feel a familiar feeling of dread wash over you. You've got your period, but you don't have a pad.
Sound familiar? We've all faced this problem at some point, and while it can be annoying, it's rarely a crisis. A new pad or tampon is usually waiting for us in a desk drawer, a friend's bag, or at the closest drug store.But not everyone is so fortunate. For many people, especially those experiencing poverty or homelessness, period products are too expensive, making every month its own struggle.
Some of these women generously chose to share their experiences with The Period Purse, to shed light on how they get by every month."There's a stigma about having your period on the street," shares Rose, a woman experiencing homelessness in Toronto. "We feel ashamed and worry about getting sanitary products. Many use toilet paper but in my experience it just doesn't work."
That's a sentiment that Amira -- who often uses toilet paper herself -- shares."It soaks through way faster than a pad, and doesn't stay put, which causes leaks," she says. "When that happens to me, I go to the thrift store and steal new pants. I'm not proud of that but what else am I going to do?"
Others, like Rafael, use clothing such as shirts and socks to create a makeshift pad."I put three or four socks into another sock and use it for as long as I can, then throw it out," she says. "Or squish a roll of toilet paper down and use that. Nothing works very well though, so we end up leaking through our clothes. There's a lot of shame about that."
Rose says that while she's been able to find places to access period products, they can be difficult to find, and many people are not as fortunate."I figured out that I could get pads and tampons from my doctor and a few other places, but most people don't know where to go," she says. "It would be such a weight off our shoulders to have the supplies we need."
That's where you come in.
This International Women's Day, help take this weight off of a menstruator's shoulders through our "Sponsor a Menstruator" program.
A couple of lattes. One fast food lunch. A bottle of wine. Just one of these is all you have to give up in order to provide one person with the supplies they need for a healthy, dignified period.
Through a monthly installment of just $12, you'll be helping take away just one of the burdens of a person experiencing homelessness.
Every year, after scoring last minute deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, another holiday asks you to open your wallet one more time but for a very different reason.
Since 2011, Giving Tuesday has been a day for people to come together and support charitable organizations in their community. But with so many worthwhile causes, it can be difficult to decide where to send your donations this season.
That's why we've put together a handy list of reasons to donate to The Period Purse this Tuesday. From bringing the period equity conversation to the House of Commons to packing hundreds of period product kits for those in need, we've accomplished a lot this year and to continue our important work, we need your help.
Read on for the top 10 reasons to donate to The Period Purse this #GivingTuesday.
1. We're the First Registered Menstrual Equity Charity in Canada
This year we made it official we're a registered charity, the first in Canada to fight for menstrual equity. That means reducing stigma, educating the public and providing those who experience homelessness with access to free period products so they can experience periods with dignity.
2. We've Collected Hundreds of Products for Those in Need
Our bi-annual blitzes have collected hundreds of period products to donate to shelters across Canada. This year, teams of volunteers have gathered across Canada to pack much needed supplies and supportive notes for people experiencing homelessness. At just one of our Toronto packing parties, we packed 265 purses and 920 period packs for 19 shelters in the city.
3. And We're Collecting Donations All Year Round
In addition to our bi-annual blitzes, we're always encouraging volunteers to create their own "mini-drives" with their friends, family and coworkers. That means we're helping communities gather and donate supplies all year round.
4. Even Small Donations have A Big Impact
The Period Purse supports 530 people living in Toronto shelters. It costs $15.00 to make one delivery to a community partner, $20.00 for one pair of reusable period underwear and $40.00 for a reusable menstrual cup. Your donation will help us provide these important products for those who need them.
5. We're Pushing for Government Support
With support from The Period Purse, Toronto city councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam successfully passed a motion for the City of Toronto to provide additional funding to community service agencies across the city so they can distribute menstrual products to their clients and beneficiaries.
6. Our Message Made it to The House of Commons
This year, Parkdale-High Park MP Arif Virani spoke about The Period Purse in the House of Commons, bringing national attention to menstrual equity and calling for support from his fellow MPs. It doesn't get much more high profile than that.
7. We're Encouraging Others to #SayTheWordPeriod
This fall, we launched #SayTheWordPeriod with Toronto agency doug&partners, a campaign aimed at increasing positive conversations about menstruation in everyday life. Through creative and funny videos, we're encouraging others to break down the stigma around conversations about periods and menstrual equity.
8. We're Bringing Menstrual Education to the Classroom
Our Menstruation Nation program hosts period presentations in schools across the Toronto District School Board, providing youth, educators and guardians with the resources they need to enforce the importance of period positivity at home and school.
9. We're Spreading the Word About Sustainable Periods
We're committed to collecting and purchasing sustainable period products, including menstrual cups and reusable pads and underwear. While these products aren't the right choice for everyone with a period, we're working to make them available for those who choose to use them and discussing their benefits in schools across Toronto.
10. We're Growing, Canada
We have 16 chapters across Canada and are always open to volunteers who want to start a chapter in their town. The more chapters we have, the more people we can support having healthy, dignified periods each month.
Convinced yet? Donate today and be sure to share the news about The Period Purse this Giving Tuesday to help inspire others to make the change.
This isn't about me, I swear. However, if you were to tell me back then that I would be chatting with the Bif Naked about her first period story, I probably would have assumed you were talking to the wrong Dani.Remember when I said this wasn't about me? It's really not.
Bif Naked (whose real name is Beth Torber) is a big fan of menstrual equity. In fact, she's a huge advocate for women's healthcare rights in general. When she announced back in 2008 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, it came with a message about the importance of breast self-examinations.When I asked Naked about her journey, she told me, "Had I not had cancer, I wouldn't have gotten an education [about] women, particularly women with barriers. Women experiencing homelessness, those who need cancer care in remote locations."
Naked realized that talking about these issues could help provide health essentials for everyone, "from menstrual cups to mammograms."
After spending 30 years in Vancouver, Naked recently moved to Toronto, and says she loves it. She's been working on a book of poetry, there's a new record on the way, and some upcoming tour dates. She's also involved in BMX with her husband.
Naked first heard about The Period Purse through social media, and says community organizations and charities like these have the power to support and uplift other women. Plus, the more she learned about menstrual equity, the more it became impossible not to advocate for it.
I was curious about how and when Bif Naked (remember this is the Bif Naked) first got her period. It can be a personal subject, but the question, "Would you care to share your story?" was met with an emphatic, "Oh hell yes!"Picture this: Bif Naked, a shock of black hair down her back, a backpack hastily slung over one shoulder (ok I added that part for effect, but the rest is all true). Young Bif was in seventh grade, and it was time for phys ed, where they were playing tennis.
"Of course," she says, "I was wearing these white shorts, red stripes on the sides. Adidas made a line of shorts that looked like panties. I can't even believe we wore them! Lo and behold, I got my period."And here's the thing they don't tell you about your first period: It's not the blue liquid you see in commercials, but it's also not totally red either.
"You think it's going to be a juicy, bright red, like when you cut your finger, but it looked more like I pooped my pants," says Naked.Poor young Bif thought that's what had happened, and went home to change. When she realized the truth and returned to school, she adds, "I don't think I felt too ashamed. I made a joke about it. Told everyone I'd sat in cake."
The most-perfect-response.As badass as this all sounds, I would expect nothing less. Bif Naked is a fighter. And she has a lot of thoughts about how the government, businesses and individuals can promote menstrual equity.
"I think [tampons and pads] should just be free. I'm sure there's a lot of companies, who think I don't understand business, but there should be more access for people who can't access them. There are certain things that will enhance lives, and help alleviate mental and emotional stressors," she says.
Naked feels that there should be "mutual syncing," a menstruation-inspired term for how we can help and support one another."Uplifting and supporting people in our community should be a shared responsibility," she says.
And again, not to make this about me, but I couldn't agree more.
You can follow Bif Naked on twitter @bifnaked. The Period Purse (@ThePeriodPurse) provides marginalized communities with access to free period products, while working to reduce stigma through education. Read what we're all about on our website.
Help Bring Period Products to Toronto's Marginalized Menstruators with The Period Purse's Fall Blitz
With fall finally here and the weather slowly getting cooler, you may be wondering what you can do to help Toronto's marginalized communities.
It can be an overwhelming question. With so many valuable organizations and causes seeking your donations and support, where do you start?
Often, these conversations can exclude some of the city's most vulnerable members of our community who don't have access to the products they need to experience healthy periods.
What if we could deliver hundreds of products to those who needed them most?
That's exactly what The Period Purse's annual Fall Blitz aims to do.
700 Healthy Periods
What is the Fall Blitz? Every October, The Period Purse encourages community members to drop off bags and purses full of period products and wellness items to designated locations across the city. Once all the donations have been collected, we hold packing parties to sort, package and deliver the products to people who menstruate who may be in need.
These period packs are full of menstrual products, cloth pads, wash cloths, new socks and underwear, bar soap, hats, mitts, scarves and treats like chocolate and granola bars. They're delivered across the city, and each contains its own unique motivational note.
Last fall, we packaged an astonishing 700 purses and bags. That's 700 people who were able to experience healthy periods, thanks to the hard work and dedication of people just like you.
How You Can Help
In 2019, The Period Purse's Toronto Chapters will hold their Fall Blitz programs from October 7 to 28, with packing parties happening on November 9 in Toronto West and November 16 in Toronto East. That's three weeks dedicated to getting the right products to the right people!
This is what it will look like: For three weeks, local businesses across the city will be home to donation bins that will fill up with much-needed products. Then, volunteers will come together to pack: filling bags and purses for delivery to the city's shelters and centres.
Many groups and organizations choose to work together to make the biggest impact possible. Schools and for-profit companies can run donation collections in their place of work or study, while engagement parties, baby showers and birthdays are the perfect opportunities to ask for product donations in lieu of gifts.
Thinking of hosting an event in the coming month? Consider accepting period products instead of tickets. However you decide to contribute, you'll be joining an enthusiastic group of volunteers who know their work is helping Torontonians experience healthy, dignified periods.
Make A Commitment to Menstrual Equity
The Fall Blitz works best when groups of dedicated volunteers come together to make it happen. While it can be a challenge to balance busy lives and full-time commitments, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you could have this fall.
Even if you've never volunteered for or donated to a Blitz before, it's never too late to start. Talk to your friends and family today about how you can all be a part of this important event.
Drop Off Locations and Hours*
Toronto West (October 7 to 28)
|The Big Guy's Little Coffee Shop||2861 Lakeshore Blvd W|
Mon to Fri: 7:30am-6pm
|Master Mechanic High Park||2 Howard Park Ave|
Mon to Fri : 8am-6pm
Sat and Sun: Closed
|(From October 7 to 18): Arif Virani's Constituency Office||1596 Bloor St W|
Mon to Fri: 9:30pm-8pm
|Bhutila Karpoche's Constituency Office||2849 Dundas St W|
Tues to Fri: 10am-4pm
Mon, Sat and Sun: Closed
|Raw Beauty Bar||3830A Bloor St W|
Tues to Thurs: 10-9pm
Fri and Sat: 9-6pm
Sun and Mon: Closed
Toronto East (October 7 to 25)
|Sprouts Growing Bodies & Minds||183 Carlaw Ave|
M to Fri : 9am-6pm
Sat and Sun: 9am-4pm
|Might & Main Café||126 Main St|
Mon to Fri: 7am-6pm
|Oma Chiropractic & Wellness||1 Munro St|
Mon to Sat: 8am-7pm
|Origin Wellness||2017 Danforth Ave|
Mon to Fri: 9:30am-9pm
|Mina Drug Store||1474 Kingston Rd|
Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri: 9:30-7pm
|The Yoga Tree||123 Dundas St W|
Mon to Fri: 11am-9:15pm
Sat and Sun: 9am-6:15pm
|The Yoga Tree||140 Spadina Ave|
Mon and Wed: 11:15am-2:45pm
Tues and Thurs: 10:30am-2:45om; 4-9:30pm
Fri: 11am-2:45pm; 4-8:45pm
|Little White Sneakers||597 Mount Pleasant Rd|
Mon to Sat: 10am-6pm
|The Yoga Tree||40 Eglinton Ave East, Suite 800 - 8th floor|
Mon: 9:30am-2pm and 4:15-9:30pm
Tues and Thurs: 9:30am-2pm and 4-9:15pm
Wed and Fri: 9:30am-2pm and 4-7:30pm
*Dates, times and locations are subject to change.
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.