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Held from the 11 – 17th of October, Environmenstrual week, created by WEN.org.uk, was created to highlight what goes into our period products, and how to choose alternatives.
The campaign has the following goals:
Learning about what goes into mainstream period products, and why they might be harmful
Campaigning against the use of toxic, damaging ingredients
Education about the alternatives to period products, including the options available and how to even make your own.
All of this sounds like a win to us at Acala, as we have been shouting for ‘period power’, championing recyclable and reusable options since our launch.
Why do we care about sanitary protection?
Harmful ingredients in period products like Tampons and Towels are damaging both to our bodies and to the planet.
In many cultures across the globe, including the UK, menstruation has been seen as a ‘taboo’; something a bit grim and private. As a result, period products have been designed to offer secrecy and discretion, using plastics and silicone for disposability.
This messaging in marketing (including scenting and noiseless wrappers) all serve to continue this shame.
Period products have been linked to health impacts, including an increase in endometriosis symptoms, painful periods and infections.
Alongside the impact on people having their periods, there is a huge knock on effect to the environment. 90% of mainstream menstrual products are made of plastic, which winds up in our beaches and landfill.
The environment and menstrual waste
The facts around the impact of period products on the environment are stark.
According to the WEN study, the average UK woman uses up to 11,000 disposable products during her life, based on 22 products per cycle over 38 years. The average woman has around 500 periods in her lifetime.
Periods are costly, with each one costing up to £41, that’s £492/year and £18,450 over a lifetime.
Disposal of single-use menstrual products - tampons, pads and applicators generates 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, and up to half of women admit to flushing tampons rather than deal with the waste. It has been estimated that 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year.
Many of these end up in the sea or water systems, either clogging sewers or leading to the addition to the 51 trillion microplastic particles already damaging our oceans (500 times more than the stars in our galaxy), seriously threatening marine wildlife.
Those that are disposed of ‘correctly’ find their way into landfill, taking thousands of years to degrade.
It’s a stark fact that every single disposable period product you’ve ever used still exists, and will do so for generations after your death.
How we help:
The Acala team openly encourages discussion around the use of alternative period products, free from shame or stigma. Periods are normal, natural, clean and healthy. There is no need to hide them away as dirty secrets and we support the normalisation of sharing period thoughts across all societies.
A site we love is ‘bloody good period’, which champions period equality for all.
We offer a number of reusable period products. Our award-winning Nudie Menstrual cup in particular is a healthy, safe BPA free option that is easy to clean, comes in multiple sizes and can last for years.
Our 100% organic paper-wrapped tampons are completely plastic free and compostable.
It can cost up to £22 per period for disposable products. Our pack of reusable indian cotton pads are washable, recyclable, suitable for even heavy flow and hygienic.
Finally, we want to highlight issues of period poverty. 10% of young women in England have had to skip using appropriate period products due to costs. Many refugees, women fleeing domestic violence and homeless women cannot access appropriate period care. We believe it is vital this is addressed.
Wen Seeing Red, https://www.wen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/SEEING-RED-BRIEFING.pdf
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