top of page

LOUDWomen x Zero Hour: Period Sustainability and Accessibility

This month our very own LOUDwomen and Zero Hour’s Bentonville chapter are collaborating for their period sustainability and accessibility fundraiser. Bentonville’s Zero Hour is a group of youth intersectional climate activists coming together to improve the environment of our town. The nonprofit organization decided to focus this project on period waste because it is a serious issue that is constantly overlooked and needs to be acknowledged. This fundraiser aims to raise enough money to buy and provide sustainable period products for the people in our community. In honor of this collaboration and Women’s History Month, I’ll be using this blog as my opportunity to voice a few of my thoughts on period-related societal issues as well, so I hope you enjoy it!


According to The World Bank, those who menstruate use up about 150 kilograms (about 331 pounds) of non-biodegradable waste every year. This waste takes approximately 500-800 years to decompose. When you consider the fact that around 1.8 billion people menstruate every month, the numbers add up fast. Adding on, the National Library of Medicine states that more than 35% of the global population does not have the necessary resources when their period occurs. This means that more than a third of the people who menstruate not only have to deal with the mental and physical issues of having their period but also with being hygienic. An article from the United Nations Population Fund talks about how a few school girls in Kenya had to have transactional sex to afford menstrual products, displaying how much young women around the world are sacrificing to buy something we have such easy access to. These harsh statistics and situations are why more action needs to be taken to make period products, specifically environment-friendly ones, and period education more accessible in our communities. 


Whether you’re thinking about switching the products you use or donating to people in need, here are some options:


  • Menstrual Cups: bell-shaped silicone cups that hold period blood for up to 12 hours and are estimated to have less than 1.5% of disposable products’ environmental impact. Although they are more pricey than your average pad, they can last for 10 years saving you the money worth thousands of normal period products you would use otherwise. 


  • Reusable Pads: work just like normal pads, but they’re made of cloth and need to be washed after being used. Reusable pads aren’t as environmentally ideal as menstrual cups because of the water you’ll have to use for washing, but they’re still a great alternative when considering the waste from normal pads. 


  • Period Underwear: reusable underwear with multiple absorbent, fabric layers that can absorb blood all day depending on a person’s flow. Again, they’re not as ideal as other options because of the water needed to wash them, but better for the environment than using disposable pads. 


  • Biodegradable & Disposable Products: If switching over doesn’t seem like the best option for you (which is absolutely okay, having a period every month is stressful enough), then biodegradable & disposable period products can work. These are made of materials like banana fiber, corn starch, water hyacinth, and organic cotton. Some brands that make biodegradable pads are Public Goods, Pee Safe, L.Chlorine, Rael, and Natracare. They’re more expensive than non-biodegradable pads and aren’t 100% safe for the environment, but still make a difference if you’re able to afford them.


All of this information has been presented with the intention of breaking stigmas around periods. The topic itself infuriates me. Why should there be a stigma around a phenomenon that all people who menstruate experience unwillingly? We don’t choose to have excruciating cramps and blood coming out of our vaginas every month. Menstruation signifies that our uteruses are functioning properly; therefore, there is no need to shame a woman or someone who menstruates for it.


One specific example of period stigma is excluding women from everyday life. In many places around the world, women during their periods are seen as “impure” and “dirty.” Therefore, they’re forced to stay in a confined area and cannot share anything they use, such as utensils, clothing, etc., with others. This idea of period blood making someone “filthy” is an incredibly inhumane way to treat people who menstruate. Young girls living with these social norms are bound to becoming self-conscious and lack confidence as they grow up. 


This is a concept that I have first-hand experience with. I never used the word period to describe what was happening to me every month because a small part of me was embarrassed despite knowing I couldn’t control what happened to my body during menstruation. My parents have become much better at addressing periods after being separated from the illogical opinions engraved in the minds of people in India for many years, so I’m lucky enough to say that I feel the opposite of embarrassed every time I get mine. However, it pains me to think that numerous people who menstruate, especially in less-developed areas, can’t say the same.


There’s also the period-related myth that women/people who menstruate are weak because of their periods. While it is true that the discomfort we experience makes us easily tired, in no way are we incapable of doing any task. We choose to take breaks, not deem ourselves “incompetent.” It’s because of this stereotype deeming women as helpless while menstruating that they feel obligated to keep working even when bleeding and cramps are unbearable. 


It’s become a societal expectation that women need to be strong during their period because otherwise we’re “weak.” Why can’t we just be tired? Why can’t it just be a bad day? There shouldn’t be a necessity for women and those who menstruate to put on a joyful facade when they’re feeling the opposite. The depiction of women experiencing their periods is especially an issue in pad or tampon ads, as stated by Annie Dillon and Hannah Black (alumni of Stanford), where women on their periods are doing all types of physical activities with a smile on their faces. These are the same ads that use blue liquid in place of red to represent blood. Although their goal is to empower women, they do the opposite by forcing expectations on them and worsening the stigma around period blood. 


Why is a man shedding blood in battle valiant, but someone who sheds the same blood from their vagina considered “dirty”? I don’t see men bleeding every month, nurturing another human being in their bodies, giving birth to them, and continuing to take care of all their responsibilities. 


The list could keep going when it comes to period-related problems that people who menstruate face. But I’d like to end this month’s post with a reminder to treat anyone you know who menstruates with the utmost amount of respect and keep the environment in mind when using period products. Although it’s something we go through every month, it never really gets easier, so in no way am I trying to look down on anyone for what they use during their period. The goal of Zero Hour Bentonville and LOUDWomen’s Period Sustainability initiative is to create awareness about a rising issue and provide ways in which we can combat it as a community! 


You can donate to the Zero Hour Bentonville x LOUDWomen Period Sustainability fundraiser using this link: https://www.loudwomencommunity.org/donate 

Our Venmo: @loudwomen


*Note: Please don’t forget that women aren’t the only people who menstruate. Many non-binary and transgender people have periods, so please treat everyone with the same amount of respect!



Sources:

“Sustainable Menstruation | Sustainability | CSUSM.” Www.csusm.edu, www.csusm.edu/sustainability/resources/sustainablemenstruation.html.


‌The World Bank. “Menstrual Health and Hygiene.” World Bank, 12 May 2022, www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/brief/menstrual-health-and-hygiene.


Rodriguez, Leah. “Which Period Products Are Best for the Environment?” Global Citizen, 28 May 2021, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/best-period-products-for-the-environment/.


Rohatgi, Aishwarya, and Sambit Dash. “Period Poverty and Mental Health of Menstruators during COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons and Implications for the Future.” Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, vol. 4, no. 1128169, 1 Mar. 2023, https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2023.1128169.


magazine, STANFORD. “Planet-Friendly Periods.” Stanfordmag.org, 2017, stanfordmag.org/contents/planet-friendly-periods.


UNFPA. “Menstruation and Human Rights - Frequently Asked Questions.” Unfpa.org, May 2022, www.unfpa.org/menstruationfaq.

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page