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.
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.
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.