The Elephant in the Womb: Periods & Plastic Waste

By our founder and CEO, Olivia

For almost four years I have spoken to people in Asia about periods. Basically, anyone who posses the capacity to hold a conversation has found themselves ensnared in my research. In this time, we found that 90% of women living in the region have no idea what our period care is made of.

 

Olivia with Zoe Chan, founder of our social initiative partner, FreePeriodsHK

This is concerning when you consider that our vaginas are the most absorbent part of our bodies, therefore whatever we expose them to really does affect our overall health.

 

Health concerns aside, if we don’t know what these products are made of, how do we know the impact they have on our planet every time we throw one away (which, by the way, is around 11,000 times in a woman’s lifetime)? 

Our sisterhood appreciate the importance of a healthy vagina! That starts with their period care!

 

Periods & Plastic; a Common Combination

 This nescience makes itself clear at our period workshops. When my team hold up one of the world’s best selling sanitary pads many exclaim upon sight, ‘I use that one!’  When we ask what it's made of, most reply - ‘cotton?' but with a doubtful inflection which proves they've never considered this before.

 

In response we explain that this product contains 0 cotton and, whilst we can tell them mostly what it's made of (all synthetic non-degradable stuff), some of the product’s anatomy remains ambiguous. A closely guarded ‘industry secret.’ An ‘innovation’ that puts commercial value before the right of women to have transparency over their health.

 

We then ask them to smell the product - to hold the sinews of synthetic strands close to their nose, which wrinkles in repulsion, as mine did. "It smells," they say, "like chemicals.

 

Whether it does contain chemicals or not, we don't know. And that's the point. We shouldn’t have to adopt a bloodhound-esque investigation into the safety of our menstrual health products, being forced to sniff out evidence in lieu of it being readily offered to us by the brands selling these products. 

 

Of course, none of this is hard to believe when you consider many of us remain mortified to even be associated with these products, let alone think more deeply about what they contain.

 

So potent are menstrual taboos that even in 2019, we hide our period care up our sleeves like contraband.

One of our '身体有话说' events in Shanghai (Body Wants to Talk)

 

Tackling this Culture of Shame 

What has struck me most over the last few years, is how deeply ingrained these menstrual taboos are even amongst society's more forward-thinking members. At events we have difficult discussions about topics like climate change and gender violence but yet, when I announce I am there to talk about periods, people are embarrassed.

 

As part of my introduction, I often ask audience members to turn to the person next to them and explain what a period is. Many laugh uncomfortably or sit there in silence. 

 

In light of these reactions, is it any wonder so many women & girls aren't comfortable using reusable products like the menstrual cup? No wonder the notion of this small cup filled with period blood is often uncomfortable, and frequently, repulsive.

 

The

The LUÜNA Cup; safe, comfortable & eco-friendly, yet difficult to accept for many women and men in Asia.  

 

Therefore, by failing to address our own taboos around menstruation, we become complicit in deepening the toxic narratives which mean women & girls will only ever want to use non-degradable sanitary products.

 

In failing to speak normally about periods, we ensure they will only ever be comfortable ripping one of these highly-absorbent synthetic pads as quickly from their underwear as they can, disposing of it, and thinking no more about this impact this has on their bodies or the planet.  

 

 

Period cup origami at one of our workshops 

 

It’s important to state here that at LUÜNA we will never shame women for using such products. For when we shame a woman for her period care choices, we do not inspire her to explore more sustainable options, we only push her to hide her period care further up her sleeve. 

Menstrual health must be exempt from shame at all costs, even when the health of our planet is at stake.

 

Our awesome and ever-growing community of women & men who are seeking more knowledge about their bodies & their products.

 

However, it's our belief that if you care about the future of our planet, you should be at the forefront of our mission to normalize conversation around periods

 

In doing so, we can ensure women and girls are inspired to ask ‘what is my period care made of’ and know with confidence, it is safe for our bodies and our planet.    

 

FYI, friends -

We're not 100% plastic-fee yet but have vowed to be by the end of 2020. Our menstrual cups of course are. However, our organic cotton products still come in thin plastic wraps for hygiene purposes. We are working on this.

 

Discover all our healthy and planet-friendly products here