Most women menstruate for an average of forty years, approximately 2,400 days over the course of a lifetime!
In honor of menstrual hygiene day this May 28th, we are shining a light on the social and cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation, alongside some of the issues around mainstream period products.
Even though menstruation is a natural and healthy part of life, period taboos and cultural stigmas surrounding it have persisted across history. Most societies teach girls that periods are unclean, embarrassing and that they just shouldn’t be discussed.
Just think about all the euphemisms that society has concocted in order to avoid saying the word “period”: Auntie Flow, time of the month, girl flu, Bloody Mary, strawberry week.
Unfortunately, the silence, shame, and secrecy that shrouds periods has prevented girls and women from managing their periods with dignity, which has also created adverse health implications.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem once wrote that if men had periods, periods would hardly be embarrassing and probably something men would boast in length about. Similarly, many social scientists have argued that if men menstruated, there would be an abundant supply of cheaper, smarter, more convenient and less environmentally toxic alternatives to tampons and pads. In reality, innovation surrounding menstrual hygiene products has been slow and uninspiring.
To make matters worse, in many countries, feminine hygiene products are still subject to senseless taxation because they are considered “non-essential luxury products.” For decades, one or two companies have dominated the period industry. Rather than committing to true innovation and developing sustainable product lines, these dominant companies have focused on revamping existing product lines, insisting that women would never shift from disposable products to reusable ones.
A HEALTHY CYCLE BEGINS WITH CLIMATE-HEALTHY PRODUCTS.
Even though we have become all too familiar with the environmental harms of single-use plastic, we do not usually think of tampons and sanitary pads as part of the single-use plastic problem.
Did you know that most pads are made up of 90% plastic?
“BY ONE ESTIMATE, ONE PACK OF PADS IS EQUIVALENT TO FOUR PLASTIC BAGS!”
Similarly, tampons are filled with plastic, and plastic can be found even in the tampon string. Did you know that plastic applicators are just as bad for the environment as plastic straws are? The average woman uses more than 10,000 tampons in her lifetime, each of which takes longer to biodegrade than the life of the woman who used it!
More than 200 billion menstrual products end up in a landfill each year. Because pads and tampons have revolutionized how women manage their periods, there is fear that drawing attention to the period plastic problem may create unnecessary backlash against products that many women currently need.
Nevertheless, at 8Shades, we believe that knowledge is power. Fighting for period equity, aka greater access for women across the globe to safe and affordable period products, and fighting for our planet are not mutually exclusive campaigns. In fact, we believe that the more sustainable period products there are on the market, the more choice a woman will have in managing her period with dignity. As history has demonstrated time and again, for women, more choice corresponds with more empowerment.
Stay tuned for some of our favourite more sustainable and less toxic, period products!