How we've helped students to combat period poverty and offer sustainable options
Period poverty is a global issue, and many people who menstruate struggle to afford the products that they need. Period poverty is on the rise in the UK, with rising prices increasing the cost of period products. Last year, the charity Bloody Good Period reported a 78% increase in the need for free period products.
In order to do our part to combat period poverty, The Students’ Union at UWE provides free, organic menstrual products in all our toilets and we are working in partnership with UWE Bristol to provide products across more toilets at the university.
This year, we have been giving out FREE sustainable period products across all three campus sites, as part of this trial, 318 students have received a free item, such as a menstrual cup, reusable period pants or reusable period pads. This scheme saved students money and reduced waste! Natracare has estimated that one pack of menstrual products has around 4 plastic bags worth of plastic in, and one sanitary pad takes around 500 years to break down.
Price is often a barrier for students who want to access sustainable period products, especially in light of the cost of living crisis. We ran this project in order to make these products more financially accessible to students so that they can reduce the environmental impacts of their period. We work with WUKA for wholesale period underwear and purchase in block orders. We also stock in our shops and offer in the trial Lunette and Mooncup menstrual cups in two sizes. Our Students’ Union Shops are proud to subsidise menstrual cups so they only cost £10, rather than the original RRP of £25. This makes them accessible to more students. This selection is far exceeding the range of our non-plastic-free period products on offer. The Students’ Union also absorbs the VAT on period products for purchase in our shop, not passing this onto the customer. We estimated that students could have saved a total of £11,208 a year or an average of £35 per year for the upfront costs of these products.
We have also been working with students to run workshops has also let to an increase in conversation about menstruation. This has been among groups such as the student-led Sustainability Committee but also more widely through the workshops by giving students the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about reusables. Given the taboo and stigma surrounding menstruation, these open conversations are invaluable for allowing important conversations about health, the environment and menstrual products to emerge. Menstruation is a natural process that affects half of the population, and yet it remains stigmatised. By introducing free period products across the University, including key locations such as the Library, we hope to normalise the discussion of menstruation, acknowledge the needs of individuals who menstruate, and promote gender equity and inclusivity on campus.
On average, students rated their experience of using these products as 4.3 out of 5 stars, and we received a huge amount of positive feedback in our survey, 86% of students said they would use resuable products most of the time in relation to every cycle, some student testimonies are inlcuded below.
“Super comfortable and also amazing to wear with no fear of leakages.”
“I find reusable period products much more comfortable than disposable, single-use plastic period products.”
“I've always wanted to try a menstrual cup and I wasn't disappointed!”
“I loved using the period pants and would love to use them exclusively rather than pads or tampons. If I had five/six pairs, it is likely I would never use tampons or pads again. It feels a lot more natural and comfortable and I would recommend them to everyone.”
“Really comfy, I wear them during the night and it’s a much nicer feeling than going to sleep with a sanitary pad on.”
Turning The Tide On Plastic Period Waste Turning The Tide On Plastic Period Waste - Natracare
Plastic Period: menstrual products and plastic pollution Plastic periods: menstrual products and plastic pollution | Friends of the Earth
Bloody Good Period https://www.bloodygoodperiod.com/
How is the cost of living crisis affecting period poverty in the UK? How is the cost of living crisis affecting period poverty in the UK? - Economics Observatory
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