People assume that we launched our cloth sanitary products because single use products aren’t environmentally sustainable. Of course, that’s part of the reason. But there’s something else that motivates us. And that’s period poverty.
Period poverty means that every month girls miss school because they cannot afford to buy sanitary products. It means mothers taking days off work so that they can menstruate at home and give their pads to their daughters. It means teachers buying tampons to give to their pupils. It means women and girls using rags and toilet roll.
Period poverty isn’t restricted to ‘poor’ countries. It’s happening in Britain, right now.
The reason reusable nappies are becoming more ‘normal’ is because new parents are finally beginning to know about them - they’re being talked about in the media, and families know other parents who use them.
The same change in awareness is needed for reusable and cloth sanitary products (CSP). Women, parents, foodbanks, and teachers who spend their own money to support their pupils, need to know that there is another option. Having children rely on hand-outs from their teachers isn’t sustainable. It’s degrading, and it’s a temporary fix. It doesn’t solve the problem.
The average woman spends £18,000 on her single-use periods. Reusable products offer a long-term, economically sustainable solution. But more people need to know about them. More people need to know that they are ‘normal’, that they are easy to wash, and that they’re hygienic.
Girls are taught from an early age that periods are something to be hidden - adverts for menstrual products show 'small' and 'discreet' as essential features, reminding us to be secretive. Few women talk openly about menstruation - we may know the details of our friends’ post-birth haemorrhoids and drunken holiday liaisons, but the chances are we don’t have a clue about what they use during their period.
So we need to be getting reusable products out there. Because period poverty isn’t OK.
Oh, and in case you were wondering. Each of the 32 million women in the UK uses about 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, which are full of plastic and pulp. That means they’re manufactured using energy-intensive, dirty industrial processes; used for a few hours; and then sent to landfill where they’ll stay for hundreds of years. Yeah, we really don’t think that’s OK either.