How to have a feminist Valentines Day

How to have a feminist Valentines Day

Don’t be sucked in by the novelty boxer pants and his and hers pillows, prioritise self-care and socially conscious products with a feminist Valentines Day.

1. Celebrate love for everyone

Back in my first job, surrounded by bright-eyed graduates determined to change the world (check out the Worthwhile Grad Scheme if you’re one of these and you want a job), we decided to practice “Thank you Thursdays” to acknowledge and thank everyone who had helped us in the past. Valentines is a lovely chance to do the same. You don’t need to send a tacky card (see point 3), instead just take the time to reflect on the last year and acknowledge the people who have supported you, cheered you on, picked you up and made you cups of tea. Tell them how grateful you are.

2. Remember Self-Love

Alongside those who have been there for you, take some time to love yourself. Prioritise yourself and your happiness for a day (or an hour if you really can’t get away for longer). Perhaps think about how you can build more self-care into your routine in the future. Self care doesn’t have to mean yoga and facemasks, check out Jenna Wortham’s article on how she learnt what self-care means to her. It might feel counter-intuitive to put yourself first on the day we celebrate romance but it will mean you’re in a healthier mental state to care for those who rely on you, so really, everyone wins.

3. Avoid Buying Cheap Tat

Consider the people who may have been employed to stitch that pair of novelty boxer shorts. I agree that a witty slogan over someone’s genitals is a funny thing to behold but not at the expense of cheap labour. Garment workers in developing countries are overwhelmingly female and while the quality of working environment varies greatly, very cheap products are likely to be squeezing costs somewhere, and there’s a good chance it’s by squeezing as much work out of these people for as little money as possible. Checkout the great feminist brands Neon Moon and Birdsong for beautiful gifts you can trust and remember that buying nothing can be a feminist act too.

4. Make a Donation

If you have some spare cash having saved on those novelty boxer shorts, consider donating to a good cause. Services for survivors of Domestic Violence have been cut significantly in the last few years and it’s increasingly difficult for people (often women) leaving abusive relationships to find the support they need. There are brilliant causes out there fighting the corner of these individuals, consider donating to Refuge or Womens Aid or supporting Sisters Uncut who take direct action for domestic violence services.

5. Challenge the “His and Hers” Dichotomy

Sure, his and hers mugs are cute for me and my boyfriend. But why aren’t there any “Hers and Hers” or “His and His” mugs for my friends in same-sex relationships? Or even just “Ours”. Try and buy from places where all types of relationship are represented, not just the relationships which look like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in LA LA Land. It might seem like a profit-ploy that Sainsbury’s have started selling same-sex valentines cards but if you’re going to spend that three pounds anyway, do it somewhere that inclusivity is valued too.

Monthlies are a proudly feminist brand, making periods easier for you, better for the planet and safer for menstruators in the UK and globally, by donating at least 20% of our profits to causes which support women and girls. You can start you own personalised subscription by clicking this button:

A January to Enjoy

A January to Enjoy

With dark nights and cold mornings, a Christmas-weary credit card and fading hope about ever feeling the warmth of the sun again, it’s easy to let January get you down. However, we’ve come up with our 5 top tips to keep hope alive in January, while helping our planet and your bank balance. Alright, you probably still won’t enjoy it as much as August but it won’t be so bad!

 

Travel to work by human power! 

Walk, cycle, swim down the canal (don’t), get a scooter, try a space-hopper, it’s all possible. For every 1 mile walked instead of driven, the planet saves about 150g of CO2 emissions, scale that up over everyone who drives to work and we’re talking tonnes plus fresh air and exposure to green spaces is known to increase concentration and boost the immune system. As well as the saving for planet earth, you’ll save your bus fare and do your body some good. And everyone at work will be jealous of that space hopper.

Have a good clear out and take it to a charity shop.

Life is cluttered enough so go through the cupboards and if you’ve not used it in the last year, get rid. Research the great work of different charities to decide where to donate your stuff. Feel the warm glow of a simpler life and learn to really cherish the things you use most.

Cook.

January has long been the haunting spot of fad diets and celebrity workout DVDs. We don’t believe in “one amazing trick to lose belly fat”. We do believe in nourishing yourself with simple, home-cooked food. Producing a steaming stew or apple crumble from the oven makes anyone feel satisfied. Invite friends round to share in the ritual instead of that trip to the pizza place on Saturday night. You’ll be dialling-down the spending and dialling-up the sharing. Aww.

Read books.

I know, like what people did before they invented the TV, laptop, smart-phone trio. If you’re anything like me, you already have un-read books in your house, quietly waiting to be picked up and cherished. If not, head back to that charity shop and treat yourself. Take yourself and your book on a date to a coffee shop and turn your WhatsApp alerts off. Breathe.

Meet people in your community.

Whether it’s singing in a local choir, going to that fitness class you’ve been meaning to join, taking volunteering role with the Scouts or just inviting some neighbours over for a coffee, the feeling of community can give you a huge mental boost. You might just be giving someone else a boost too.

 

And if you’re interested in protecting the planet and your health with your period products too, sign up for a Monthlies subscription. Just click below 🙂

My First Period

My First Period

Many girls arrive at their first period without knowing what to expect. It can seem embarrassing, scary and overwhelming.

Monthlies is working with London artist Kat Gordon to illustrate real stories of first periods to highlight how the taboo surrounding menstruation is leading to misinformation and confusion.

The illustrations are an honest account of how many girls felt when they bled for the first time, based on real stories, which were shared with Monthlies by menstruators across the UK.The artist Kat says “I find first time period stories fascinating. It’s really strange that some girls don’t know exactly what’s happening to their bodies because their parents and peers are too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss it beforehand. How scary is it to bleed and not really know why? It happens to half the population for goodness sake! I hope these illustrations help highlight just how important it is to educate young girls before they start menstruating and not in a biology lesson 4 years afterwards.”

 

 

I thought it was mud that somehow got into my pants

I got my first period on a school trip. We came in from some kayaking one day and there was this brown stain in my pants, I thought maybe it was mud that somehow got into my pants or that I’d caught something from the weeds in the lake. It stayed really light but the next day I asked a friend if this is what periods are like. She said yes and then told all of the girls in our dorm that I had mine. By the time we were heading home 3 days later, everyone on the trip knew. One of the teachers had offered me pads and the boys were obviously threatened with severe consequences if they mentioned anything as most of them barely made eye contact with me.

I couldn’t work out where the big stain had come from

I started in the middle of the night and woke up to this big red-brown stain on the sheets. I couldn’t work out where it had come from for a few minutes then realised it was me. My big sister had hers already so I knew what periods were and my Mum put the sheets in the wash but I’m always nervous about ruining the sheets when I’m due on.

It seemed like my insides were dissolving

Mine started when I was 10, so pretty young. I was really confused by the whole female reproductive system. My aunt told me that periods meant I was becoming a woman, so I could have children one day (looking back, I have so many issues with this explanation, I would never put it like this to my children – if I choose to have any!). I knew about sex getting people pregnant but I didn’t understand why leaking blood once a month from the same place meant I was more able to have babies. To me it seemed like my insides must be dissolving or something. It was another 4 years of mystery until we covered periods in a science lesson at school. I just wish there was better education about periods and reproduction at a younger age!

I was scared my tampon would swell up and float away

I started my period during the school holidays. My mum’s friend was looking after us and was taking us swimming. I was too embarrassed to tell her I had my period. So my sister showed me how to use a tampon. I was so embarrassed that it was going to swell up and float away that I spend most of the time by the poolside worrying that everyone could see the string!

I thought I could hold it in like pee

My Mum told me about periods but she didn’t really explain it very well, and I thought it was just going to be like one event per month, and that I’d be able to hold it in, like I could stop myself from weeing and go to the loo to do my period, instead of needing these pads she had given me. When my first period arrived and I couldn’t control it and it lasted for like a week, I realised what she’d been trying to say, but I still wish it could just be one trip to the loo each month!

Monthlies are passionate about smashing the taboo around menstruation and dispelling the misinformation and confusion which many girls face when they get their first period.

This campaign is just the beginning. Click the button below to share your own period stories and help us to smash the taboo!

Guest Blog: A bad time of the month

Guest Blog: A bad time of the month

This month’s blog comes from Sophie Jo – she wrote this great article for The F Word and agreed to write a piece for Monthlies too! We love her super honest writing style and you can read more on her blog.

 

A bad time of the month

My friends regularly refer to me as an ‘oversharer’.

When I say this, I don’t mean I’m one of those people who sits next to someone on the bus and tells them about my crippling insecurities until they get off three stops early. I mean I’m the kind of person who, among pals, will openly admit that I cry every time I see the penguin from the British Gas advert. I’m not even ashamed. The Edward Scissorhands soundtrack plays in my head and I think about my family and Christmas trees and I get all sniffly. I like that penguin a lot. I like his backpack and inquisitive demeanour, okay?

I enjoy discussing:

  • all the times I have interviewed myself in the shower (it’s not embarrassing, I am convinced everyone does it. Sometimes I have a cookery show)
  • religion and my thoughts on eternal life (I don’t fancy it)
  • how nice it is to take your bra off at the end of the day (AKA really nice)
  • the day I told my boyfriend my feet have never smelled, ever, and he sniffed them to make sure I was right (I was right)

I don’t think I’m a cRazY kOoKy GaL – I just don’t really like weather chat, so I’d rather overshare than undershare. I will talk about mental health. I will talk about feminism. I will talk about my parents’ divorce. I will talk about my very real fear of losing my cuddly toys in a house fire one day. But the one thing I’ve never really felt comfortable discussing is periods – especially with anyone who isn’t a close, female friend.

I don’t even know why I feel this way – a massive part of me is well aware that it’s dumb, and that half the world has periods, and that someone who says “EW!” when I tell them I have to swing by Superdrug to pick up some tampons probably isn’t someone I ever want to see again. I KNOW ALL THIS. But something inside me still worries.

I wrote a piece about periods for The F-Word a few months ago, and although the entire thing was about how we need to talk about menstruation, I still worried that tweeting about said piece would lose me approximately 7/8 of my followers, who would think I was gross and icky and that I danced around a fire waving sanitary towels at the weekend.

But you know what? I was wrong – and, I found out, there are lots of other women out there who are kinda sick of pretending periods don’t happen, too. When the Monthlies team tweeted me to say they liked what I’d written, they sent over a ‘period playlist‘ and I checked out their website. It turned out Monthlies and I were on the same wavelength – “About half of the people in the world get nose bleeds but we don’t whisper about them or pretend it’s all just blue liquid, not blood,” wrote founder Sarah.

If you’re not in the loop, Monthlies is a tailored period subscription service – you ‘build’ your box of environmentally-friendly tampons and pads online according to your needs and it gets sent straight to you in the post. It also acts as a platform for open chats about periods, which I love.

I received a box of Monthlies goodies last month – all selected by me – and I genuinely think this was the first time I’d EVER LOOKED FORWARD TO HAVING A PERIOD. I’d been able to choose the products that suited me and my cycle, and they all came in a cute little bag – perfect for those of us who are trying reeeeeally hard to fight the stigma but still don’t feel comfortable walking from the office to the toilet, tampon in-hand (*coughs* ME). Ahem.

I’ve still got a long way to go – I know that. But for me, the best bit about trying Monthlies was that I remembered there are other women out there who feel the same. Women who want to stop pretending their periods don’t happen. Women who are bored of breaking into a sweat when a tampon makes its way to the top of their handbag and pokes out to say hello. So I’m going to carry on waving my metaphorical sanitary towels, even if it makes people uncomfortable, because that’s the only way things are ever going to change. I’m an oversharer – it shouldn’t be too hard.

Sophie Jo
sophiejowrites.wordpress.com / @notaquamarine

Olympic Spirit

Olympic Spirit

The Olympic Games is under way and we’re loving our cheeky work breaks on iPlayer, to check on how high Jess Ennis-Hill is jumping, how fast Bolt is running and how fast and high the mind-blowing Simone Biles is flipping, bouncing and balancing.

We love sport, and the Olympics is a reminder of how incredible the human body can be but unfortunately it’s also a reminder of the sexist bias in reporting which we see in the media. Mis-haps and blunders have plagued reporters, where internalised misogyny bubbles to the surface in the heat of the events.

Like when Andy Murray had to remind John Inverdale that the Venus sisters do count as people. When the presenter congratulated Murray on winning the Olympic tennis singles title for the second time, he suggested Murray was the first person to win two golds. Murray quickly replied “I think Venus and Serena have won about four each”.

 

And when Twitter had to step in to point out that the “Wife of Bear’s Lineman” has a name of her own, as well as an Olympic medal to put to it – and it’s Corey Cogdell. The Chicago Tribune’s tweet was quickly criticised by people asking them to refer to her by her name, not her marital status or husband’s profession.

 

We’ve also seen double standards from the US media, who were actively disappointed in Gabby Douglas when she didn’t put her hand over her heart during the US national anthem on the podium when she won the Team event for Gymnastics. However, swimmer Ryan Lochte in the US Olympic team, who is accused of vandalising a building and lying to the police about a robbery, has been defended by the media, as a “kid” who “deserves a break”. Double standards which we can’t help but see as influenced by race and gender. Imagine if a black athlete had caused damage to a building, do you think the media would have reacted in the same way? We think not.

Happily, our female athletes are having none of this, as Simone Biles (we have such a girl crush on her) refused to be compared to some bloke who can’t even do a back-flip:

We’ve also seen the brilliant Fu Yuanhui, bronze medallist swimmer from China talk openly about how her period affected her performance. This was more than just tackling the taboo, it also prompted mass discussion of tampons in China, where they’re used by only 2% of menstruators because of myths around their impact on hygiene and virginity. Woman’s Hour this week explored these cultural taboos and the difficulty in finding tampons in China, in more detail in this programme. Lets hope more Chinese menstruators feel empowered to plug up and go for a swim when they’re bleeding.

Yuanhui’s admittance of her period couldn’t come at a better time as a gym in Georgia banned women on their periods from swimming just last week. Customers are outraged and one asked that she pays 20% less on her membership than men if she’s forced to avoid the pool for 6 days each month.

 

Change may be slow to happen, but these instances of sexism, misogyny and the cultural pressures working on women, are being called out quicker than Usain Bolt can cross the finish line. We wish the best performance to every athlete, male and female and hope the Games can act as a platform for gender equality as well as a great advertisement for athleticism and sport around the world!

Monthlies Ultimate Period Playlist

Monthlies Ultimate Period Playlist

We’ve been promising this list for a long time! Here is the Monthlies Utimate Period Playlist. Get yourself dancing and singing along, celebrate the shedding of your uterine lining and rest calm in the knowledge you’re not the only one going through it!

Think we’ve missed something? Drop us a line on hello@monthlies.co.uk with your suggestions. The list may be ultimate but it’s open to evolution too!

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love

For those days when you keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding. Leona knows how you feel.

Mary J Blige – PMS

Mary tells PMS as it is. Her lower back is aching and her clothes don’t fit. We know the feeling only too well but she’s singing us through.

Taylor Swift – Bad Blood

Sometimes we all hate periods. Taylor knows. It’s bad blood (but actually it’s not bad, it’s natural, and it’s kind of only half blood, the other half is cells and stuff. I don’t suppose that would be such a catchy title for Tay-tay though!)

Garbage – Bleed Like Me

We googled the lyrics to this one and it’s deep – there’s eating disorders, self harm, transgender uncertainty. They’re all bleeding. Take care of yourselves everyone.

Beyoncé – Grown Woman

Queen Bey is a big girl now. And she’s a grown woman. She can do whatever she wants. She probably menstruates #tenuous but we love Beyoncé too much to leave her out.

R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts

Everybody hurts sometimes. Sing it to us REM, sing our cramps away!

Tacocat – Crimson Wave

Pure joy in this song. The lobsters, the fake surfing, the shark, the communists in the summerhouse. Could this be the ultimate period song?

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Welcome to our Sparkly New Website!

Welcome to our Sparkly New Website!

You may have noticed Monthlies has been a bit quiet for the last couple of months. Not as much fierce feminist opinion as you may have liked to see, a bit slow on the old dismantling the patriarchy front. Tumble weed where you expected tampon puns. We know. And we’re back!

We’ve had our heads down, teaching ourselves how to use the internet and getting cross at coding. But finally we are victorious and the new Monthlies website is born! “What’s new?” we hear you cry. Real subscription billing, that’s what. And ultimate customisability with our clever box builder tool. We made an FAQs page and everything #soproud.

 

Out-takes from the great website construction of 2016

Some of my particular highlights from the website building process were the “diamond series” (I thought it was the coolest thing ever to put a picture of a Monthlies box on a red diamond, I had to be convinced it was not, in fact, the coolest thing ever and actually looked a bit naff). And the day I decided to name each of the box sizes after Dulux paint names for different shades of red. Volcanic Splash 3 never made the cut but it will always have a special place in my heart.

Now the site is live and kicking, we have time back on our hands. Time to smash some tired taboos. So in honour of Menstrual Hygiene Day on Saturday we’re collecting First Period stories.

For many young people, their first period is stressful and scary but this doesn’t have to be the case. We believe the more open we can be, in sharing the embarrassing stories as well as the good ones, the more normal it will become to talk about periods. This will mean fewer people go through menarche (your first menstrual cycle) without knowing what to expect, and the ideas of shame and fear which we’re sold by big tampon-peddling corporations will start to lift.

If you want to be part of our campaign, you can tell us your first period story via this link.

To get us started, Monthlies founder Sarah kicks off the over-share:

Before my first period, I was so nervous and excited about it. I have a sister who is two years older and when I was about 10, these colourful packs of pads appeared in the bathroom which my Mum explained were in preparation for my sister starting her periods. Never wanting to be left behind, I immediately wanted to have periods too (little did I know what I was letting myself in for!)

As I got older and surpassed the age my sister had started her periods, I started getting anxious about whether mine would ever arrive. I clearly remember a conversation with a friend before my periods started. I was in Year 9 at school, already 14 and I was sure there was something wrong with me because I hadn’t started yet, so I asked a friend if we could talk in the classroom cupboard at break time. Surrounded by the PE kits of my classmates, I asked her embarrassedly if I everyone else in the class had started. She said yes, most of the other girls had but I shouldn’t worry because she’d read in a magazine it could happen as late as 16.

Over the next couple of months, I thought my period had begun every time I had a slight tummy ache (surely just trapped wind!) but when it finally did arrive, it was a thorough anticlimax, like opening a long-awaited present to find cramps and mess waiting. At least I was finally in the club though, I could join in with the “time of the month” talk when the PE teachers tried to make us shower after netball and my sister couldn’t get away with calling me a little kid any more!

 

 

Then and now. Not much has changed really!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s the day of the year when my Facebook newsfeed is filled with messages celebrating female role-models and demanding gender equality. There are some great campaigns happening which I wanted to share:

The Wonder Women of Plan International: these are girls who are fighting for their rights, overcoming terrible circumstances and paving the way for their communities.

Marie-Claire’s #ShowYourPlace campaign: turning the sexist saying “know your place” on it’s head, this hashtag is encouraging women to share their place, be it as doctors, politicians, refugees, mothers, chefs and everything else women are!

The Everyday Sexism Project this isn’t a new campaign for today but one which began in 2012 and has been highlighting the subtle sexism facing men and women since then. A quick look through is all the reminder we need that sexism is not a thing of the past, and that we need to speak up about injustices to see change in society.

 

What’s been happening at Tampon Towers?

I’ve decided to give Monthlies HQ a re-brand and call it Tampon Towers. So far, Tampon Towers is a set of book shelves filled with boxes of tampons, pads and liners. However, I have big plans to expand in the future, with thoughts about a library of feminist, business and environment books. Here are some of my top picks:

And remember, Monthlies donates 20% of profits to causes supporting women and girls and we’re smashing taboos about Menstruation. Read our latest blog about Periods all over the World to learn more about the issues surrounding menstruation globally and sign up to Monthlies today!

Have a great International Women’s Day!

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Periods all over the world

Periods all over the world

The title of this post makes me want to sing “Periods all over the world, JOIN HANDS” but alas, we’re looking at more serious things than Love Train today. Although, if that’s what you’re looking for, I’ve been working on the optimum period playlist, think Leona Lewis with Bleeding Love, Taylor Swift with Red, it’s going to be great!

If you’re reading about Monthlies, you probably already know a thing or two about periods and the inequalities which exist around them. It’s unfair enough that our biology makes us bleed once a month but to add to that, we face tax on the products, stigma against talking about periods and to make it even worse, many menstruators globally have no access to affordable, safe, healthy period products. But there are projects and movements happening globally which are dismantling these inequalities.

ACCESS

Internationally, access to period products is heavily linked to affordability and wealth of the population. Taxation plays a part in this, pushing retail prices up, but so does the stigma, which means there’s little education or availability of the more affordable, reusable options.

There have been grassroots improvements in access, such as the women’s cooperatives in rural India who are producing and selling their own sanitary pads, using machines designed by Arunachalam Muruganantham after he discovered his new wife was using unhygienic rags. The same technology has even been imported to refugee camps in Jordan, where it’s able to provide both period protection and low-cost protection for incontinence in children and the elderly.

However it’s not always a question of cost of the products. Others face inadequate toilet facilities in schools, meaning there’s nowhere to change or dispose of menstrual pads when on your period. In Uganda, a study which trialed more affordable papyrus pads, with facilities to dispose of them in the school incinerator, failed due to a locally held belief that to burn menstrual blood could lead to infertility. The study did have success with re-usable cloth pads.

There are other, unexpected cultural barriers to access. In wealthy Saudi Arabia, the use of tampons is very rare and they’re difficult to find in the shops. There are various theories on why this is but most assume that the strict Islamic culture, known for sexual conservatism, views tampons as too intimate, even too sexual (although that’s the last thing most of us are thinking about when shoving some cotton up our vagina!)

 

STIGMA

Stigma and access are intertwined. The same study in Uganda which trialed papyrus pads found that girls saw menstrual pads as the most difficult thing to live without but the first they would give up, from a list including soap, breakfast and school supplies. This is all linked to the stigma surrounding periods and the expectation that they’re not to be spoken about or noticed wherever possible (sound familiar?!)

Source: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/So-What-Statements/Docs/Uganda_study1.pdf

In November 2015 a well known temple in Kerala, India, banned women aged 10 to 50 in order to keep out anyone who could be menstruating. They even said they would lift the ban when a machine had been invented which could accurately tell whether a woman was on her period. A community of Indian women responded with #HappyToBleed, swamping twitter and breaking down taboos in speaking openly about their periods.

TAXES

There’s been loads in the press in the last few months about the “tampon tax” but in reality, this applies to all period products, even those like the mooncup which is super sustainable. Last week, the Stop Taxing our Periods Campaign took a look at how the UK compares to levels of tampon tax globally (the answer: move to Canada).

One major break-through for this campaign came when Obama was quizzed about the tax in most US states, where he responded saying it’s probably because men were making the laws when the tax was introduced but that it makes no sense. He’s right on both counts and we hope this statement will push more governments to remove the tax but it’s still sad that the comments of one man (sure, one incredibly powerful man) can make change happen so much faster than the voices of hundreds of thousands of dissatisfied women.

You might have heard about George Osborne’s pledge in the Autumn Statement to give the £15 million (yes, that much) which is raised by the tax on period products, to charities which support women, such as refuges for victims of domestic violence. Our opinion on this is simple: those services are vital and should have adequate government support. The problem of domestic violence is a societal one (domestic violence affects men, women and children and the problem is in the actions of the perpetrators) and to fund it by a tax harvested almost entirely from women makes a dangerous assumption that it’s a problem for women to solve, not for society as a whole. The tax is sexist and should be removed. Vital services that support victims of violence should receive adequate funding regardless.

 

The further you look into the world of periods, the more things there are to be shocked and saddened by. But there are also more movements to challenge these problems and design new solutions, from the bottom up. Monthlies aim is for all menstruators to have safe, healthy periods free from prejudice. We won’t stop shouting about the issues surrounding menstruation until we get there.

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Monthlies Impact Report 2015

Monthlies Impact Report 2015

Monthlies is a social enterprise with many aims and sometimes it’s difficult to communicate them all succinctly.

So to summarise the achievements of 2015, we’ve put together our first Impact Report in infographic form. It splits out our impact into environmental, social and engagement and also gives a view on our commercial side. It’s thanks to your support that we’ve achieved the impact we have, and it’s only with your support, that we’ll continue to deliver even more impact. Have a read below!

The aim is we can grow our impact every year and by setting these measures from the very beginning, we’ll hold ourselves accountable to these aims from the very start.

In addition to the infographic, the detail below explains how we’ve come to these figures.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:

The total CO2 saving of 48kg is calculated based on the sale of 2000 pads (in reality, we’ve sold slightly more than this). All of the pads we supply are made of plant starches, wood pulp and organic cotton, although they’re recognizable and just as effective as any major brand. They do have a carbon footprint but they do not contain any fossil-fuel based plastics.

Major brands of menstrual pads all contain plastic, whether it’s in the external packaging, the wrapping of each pad, the lining or the absorbent polymer contained within the pad. As these brands don’t announce what the content of their products is, we don’t know exactly how much plastic is in a normal pad. A figure which is often quoted is the equivalent of 4 shopping bags per pack (approximately 10 pads). An average shopping bag weighs about 10g therefore it’s 40g of plastic per pack or 4g per pad. Multiplied by the 2000 pads sold by Monthlies, this is 8kg of plastic.

In producing plastic, there is an average of 6kg of CO2 released per kg of plastic (source) therefore the CO2 from 8kg of plastic is 48kg.

A one way economy class flight from Manchester to Amsterdam releases 0.04 tonnes (40kg) of CO2 (source).

It’s fair to say that the carbon saving from pads alone is only one measure of our environmental impact and we’ve assumed the total saving without accounting for any impact from the pads we sell. This is a very fair point. The calculations are of course imperfect and narrow. However, when you look at the bigger picture, at the tampons and liners we’ve sold as well as the pads, and at the impact once wasted (they’re all biodegradable so won’t be polluting our planet or leaching chemicals out for centuries to come) then the saving will stack up even further. Even more so when you consider that all of the packaging Monthlies use (from the tissue paper to boxes, to stickers and flyers) are made from over 70% recycled material and are fully biodegradable. Now to only account for the CO2 saving of the pads sold really does look like a conservative estimate of our environmental saving. Our aim in the future is to measure more of these variables and have better comparisons of the carbon impact of major brands to compare to.

 

Social Impact:

An easier measure, we have donated 25 boxes of Ultra pads (each containing 12 pads) split between The Marylebone Project, a centre for homeless women in Marylebone, London and donations to Supporting Sisters who distribute collections across the UK to food banks and night shelters.

We also pledge to donate at least 20% of profits to causes supporting women and girls. Don’t worry, this is still firmly in our plans and once we’ve passed the 6 month mark (on the 1st Feb) we will be able to quantify how much our first donation is, as well as which cause it will go to

 

Engagement:

Our measure of 1600 people is made up of loads of events, social media and conversations at the pub. Some of the highlights this year include:

Hosting a Lunch and Learn session about Monthlies for Innocent Drinks, to around 150 colleagues.

Presenting a session on “How to start an ethical business” to over 50 delegates at the Feminism in London conference.

Meeting brilliant like minded start-up social entrepreneurs at the Social Venture Weekend by Social Incubator East.

Running the Lets Talk about Periods event with speakers Kiran Gandhi and Chella Quint.

All of the great engagement on social media when I apprehensively launched the pilot in May and then when Monthlies launched for real in August.

 

Commercial:

We’ve sent out 204 boxes (probably more by the time you’ve read this). If we assume a fairly average menstruator has 12 periods per year, thats 17 un-interrupted years of supply!

Finally, thank you. We couldn’t have got here without the support we’ve had or our wonderful customers who believe in what we’re doing as much as we do. And we’ll get to the places we’re going for exactly the same reason!

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