I had been invited to speak at #periodpower conference in June. While I am used to being on stage, I am not used to structured speeches so it was a challenge to me. I am so grateful to my mum for travelling up to be with me :) (and it progressed our relationship to) and also to Linda Allbutt for asking me to be a speaker and trusting me to lead a workshop after <3
Periods are still taboo and still something hardly talked about. My mum and I attended and I think to begin with we were both a little worried about talking about them. I know how important they are and in my role as PT I often look at period health and hormones so I am used to talking about them. With my mum I havent since I was 13/14...and I know its not really a subject mum finds easy so I would say it was a challenge for us both AND thats what we need to do to normalise, change and progress conversations, not just on periods but on women's health in general....We ended up having a great time! and learning a lot!....
So, why was this subject so important to me? Firstly,as a woman I can not imagine being in such a position where I can not afford the products I need to go about my normal life, during a time that nature is doing its job! It breaks my heart to think that some women are. Secondly, to know that periods are happening younger and girls arent getting a full education because of them, is also heartbreaking! I know as a fitness instructor, that many young girls stop exercising as they begin to develop their bodies and to think it is now not just stopping that but the education as well, scary!
Thirdly, the education around periods, alternative products and access to them disturbs me. I feel like its just another way to keep women in the dark and uneducated about their bodies and what is normal and as you get older (speaking for myself) empowering
Last but not least- The plastic consumption and pollution angers me!
A staggering 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used in the UK every year!
Period poverty, health and waste are entwined!
Not being able to afford sanitary products affects a women’s education/work life, confidence leading to isolation and possible depression/anxiety. Depression has an effect on the hormonal system!
I wondered why we expect companies to tell us what we’re putting in our bodies in terms of food and cosmetics, but why we don't we ask about menstrual product?
Non-organic disposable products have been found to contain toxic chemicals like BPA and BPS, and petrochemical additives – known endocrine disrupting substances which have been linked to heart diseases and cancer. But were never told this. In a world where some women have no choice because these are the cheapest products.....is this fair? Shouldn't companies be asked to tell us?
In an ideal world, period wouldn't be a 'dirty' word and everyone would use the right sustainable products for them BUT, we don't live in an ideal world and I understand and support that there are times and circumstances where people may need to use throw-away period products. Many want to use disposable products, others aren’t aware or have access to alternative products available.
A ‘conventional’ menstrual pad contains around the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags. Depending on where it ends up in the waste system, it could have a longer life-span than the person who uses it! Period products should not be flushed down the toilet,and yet, it’s estimated that every single day in the UK about 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed. These contribute towards towards fatbergs! others escape into our rivers and seas…
Flushed plastics make up around 8% of beach litter in the UK a figure keeps on climbing each year. Plastic debris kills more than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals every year.
What if we could replace disposable, toxic period products with ones that are better for the ocean, for our wallets and for our bodies?! AND give a young girl or woman the confidence to live normally around her period. To attend school, do sports, have peace of mind?
The good news is we now have many products on the market and coming to the market! The good news is people ARE talking about periods! People ARE talking about period poverty! and the good news is we have amazing charities like period power that want it to end and so are doing productive things to help. We know that young girls may not want to use a cup because they're not ready to be that intimate with their bodies and feel embarrassed to ask for the pads to be washed by parents OR carrying around the school all day. So we fully support the lobbying of government to tell these companies to eradicate the use of plastics in their pads, make them less wasteful (while your at it make them FREE)
For those that can/want to use more sustainable products, what products are available?
· Reusable period pads – soft, material pads which you wash after use. Available from many suppliers and in loads of funky designs. We stock Honouryourflow within the store.
· Menstrual cups – will last up to 10 years, perfect for travelling or long days at work/school. 91% of women said that they would continue to use the cup and recommend it to a friend. They're available in a our store in a range of sizes and colours and are £15 we use the meluna brand.
· Period pants – absorbent underwear that will last you up to 2 years and look like your regular pants! We don't stock these but are happy to help you find them.
Based on a 4-5 day cycle the average woman spends around £100-150 per year on disposable products. ( £4,800 in a lifetime on sanitary wear, by switching to reusable products you could save up to 94% of what you would have spent on disposables in your lifetime! That’s a small car, deposit on a house or money to travel and see the world. More than that, its confidence, its empowerment and its an education!)
The workshop was great, we had a range of women from 12-late 60's and we discussed the barriers to these products, the education we were given in schools about these products AND what we would like to see in the future.
I am so proud to have been a part of the day and to have been witness to some amazing speakers and performers who gave their time to educate us all. While I hope there is no need to have another conference (we want period poverty to end), I WOULD be a proud supporter in the future and would hope to see more people attending and supporting.
I am happy to say my work with Linda and the charity isn't over and we will be supporting them and working with them further.
Ultimately, by supporting charities who support women affected by period poverty to make a change we not only help clean up our planet, we empower women and stand a chance of ending period poverty.
Here's to women, periods, sustainability and ending period poverty!
Sources of info- City to see and greenpeace