Since entering sexual maturity the topic of menstruation – how we manage it- has always perplexed me. I have always had a few concerns. This post attempts to provide progressive solutions for those concerns.
I remember, while attending my girl’s only secondary school, being sat in a year 10 English class and asked to choose a topic to present on. The presentation would form part of our formal assessment and we had around 3 weeks to prepare. The class was split up into pairs and we had to now inform the class and our teacher the topics that we had chosen. My partner and I had decided to invent a product and market it during out presentation. We thought we were being totally original and cool. But the pair of girls on the row behind me, after being asked what they would present, extinguished my apparent chutzpah announcing that they would be presenting the Mooncup.
“Mooncup. What? -They already have a name for their made-up product…and the reception it received from the teacher is incredible. Are they in cahoots?”
And so 3 weeks later I learned of the Mooncup. The girls delivered a great presentation and were given their very high provisional marks. But I was left pondering and worrying.
While writing this blog today in 2015 I found this information:
“Despite the government’s allocation of 300m shillings to provide sanitary towels to schools in primary schools, the sanitary towel market in Kenya is yet to gain notable tract among the consumers.
Today only 5.2 million women aged 10 – 45 use sanitary towels out of the 30 million women in Kenya. The low market penetration is blamed on the lack of education on sanitary usage and even awareness of affordable sanitary towels.
Procter & Gamble Communications Manager Salome Mwaura says that lack of awareness has resulted in women using tissue paper and pieces of clothing to contain their menstrual flow.
“Lack of awareness about what is available in the market coupled with product usage education has seen the industry grow at a slow pace,” said Mwaura.
With the entry of cheaper brands, Procter & Gamble is working to retain its market leadership through its Always schools programme which aims at introducing the product to young girls while still in school.” -P&G1
So, women in Kenya are said to be uneducated when it come to sanitary products and lack an awareness of AFFORDABLE sanitary products, right? And, in order to retain it’s market leadership, following the entry of CHEAPER brands, P&G is introducing their product to schoolgirls by way of a school programme initiative. There is something so Nestlé2 about this approach.
Another one of my concerns is centred on the fact that manufactures of disposable sanitary products are not required to list the chemicals that go into making them on the side of packaging3. Just think of the potentially harmful chemicals I am putting on, in and around my most intimate of regions without even realising…. Bleurgh. And most synthetic components are not biodegradable.
The problem for a woman of the first world who strikes issue with conventional disposable sanitary products is convenience. There are a host of alternative products, but sometimes just the thought of doing the research to find a product that is right for you can be daunting and at the low of the priorities list. It’s funny, because I remember spending at least 2 months of my pregnancy researching the pros and cons of reusable nappies and the variety of products available. When it comes to my period – something I will have for a proportionately large chunk of my adult life, as opposed to the two years my daughter was in nappies -I can’t find the time to research for appropriate alternatives? Isn’t it funny how life works 🙂
So, below you can find my list of suggestions all carefully thought out and with info on where to purchase. I haven’t included any reusable cup-catchers, although there are a variety and many blogs and reviews, simply because I have never used one and so cannot give my opinion.
Cotton (rather than synthetic) Disposable Sanitary Products
Cottons & Comforts: Although they do not hold any certifications Cottons and their sister brand Comforts are a fragrance -free alternative range of panty-liners, sanitary pads and tampons plus maternity and incontinence pads and liners. They can be purchased online and in store at Boots (earning you points) and a range of smaller online sites.They are made from 100% natural cotton and the Australian brand have committed resources to work with indigenous communities. Pads from £1.99 and tampons from £2.69.
Organyc: Holding a number of certifications including ones from the Soil Association and ICEA. Praveera‘s selection of Organyc products include a range of Maternity and sanitary pads along with a Menstruation Starter Kit which includes a pack of super plus tampons. By shopping with them you can benefit from free shipping on orders over £10. Organyc also offer both an intimates range and baby range for items such as baby wipes, intimate wash and nursing pads. Typically sold in packs of 10, prices for pads start from £3.10 with boxes of 16 regular tampons starting from £2.59.
Veeda: My personal most-used, is a range of hypoallergenic, 100% cotton sanitary products. The company, started by two Australian males, focuses towards campaigning for affordable synthetic and chemical free sanitary products ( #Whatsinyourtampon ). These can also be purchased online and in-store at Boots earning you, yes you’ve guessed it, advantage card points! However, there is one particular qualm I do have with this company which I’d like to dress here. For a company that confuses to be inspired by a Brazilian friend and driven by a desire to provide Brazilian women an affordable alternative to chemical ridden, synthetic sanitary products there sure as heck is a lack of women of colour in their marketing materials! In 2010 less than 50% of the population comprised of white Brazilians. And even when considering Australia where this company hails from, it can be said that their marketing materials are committing some serious white-washing. Prices for pads start from £1.98 and a box of applicator free tampons start from £1.85, currently they are on offer at Boots from £1.23 and £1.32 respectively.
Reusable Sanitary Products
—– coming shortly, reader suggestions welcome! —–
1 Proctor and Gamble (P&G) , 6th link from the bottom as of 11.12.15
2 Nestlé Formula milk scandal
3 Disposable tampons are unsustainable but do women want to talk about it?
4 Demographics of Brazil