There are 12,560,976 women in Australia and by the time you've finished reading this blog post, another three will have been born. Considering our force in numbers, it's a strange concept that it's still 'taboo' to talk about menstruation and periods.
I'm a woman and I have sisters, female cousins, a mother, a grandmother, female friends and female co-workers, and every single one of us has a period, every single month. It might be an uncomfortable topic for some, but for me, it's something we need to talk about. The average Australian woman uses up to 12000 disposable pads, liners and tampons in her lifetime - and they're all landfilled or flushed. That's right; it's 2019 and it is estimated that 50% of women flush pads and tampons down the toilet into our waterways. In the United Kingdom alone, 700,000 liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet every single day. It's madness.
Beyond the environmental issues with disposable sanitary items, women are also faced with the financial burden that periods bring with them. A pack of 16 tampons costs around $5.50, accumulating to nearly $5000 in a lifetime. The facts are clear; the cons definitely outweigh the pros of disposable tampons and pads, and it's time to make the switch.
CEO and Founder of hannahpad, Mr Jang, broke major social barriers when he spoke publicly about menstruation in South Korea in 2005. In an environment where disposable pads were the only option at the time, Mr Jang stood up and started a much-needed conversation around alternative options. Talking about menstruation in South Korea in 2005 was very much against cultural norms as it was, but when women spend nearly half their lives bleeding, it's a topic that needs to rear its red head.
Marcus Steve is now the Director of hannahpad Australia and New Zealand, and he's passionate about changing the stigma of periods and their impact on the environment. Since launching in Australia in 2015, hannahpad has had mixed reviews. Educating 12,560,976 Australian women on the impact of their periods wasn't an easy task, but now hannahpad's reusable organic cotton liners are a trusted solution to disposable toxic plastic pads.
Marcus is saving the planet one cloth pad at a time, and he takes his task to educate young women on the health and sustainability impacts of plastic pads seriously. Through education, advocacy and honesty, he encourages conversations about periods.
“Spreading the hannahpad love through honest period talk and breaking down the stigma around the topic has become our mission and we’re noticing positive changes. People are embracing their cycle and getting excited about their next menstruation.”
As a woman, I don't know that I can say I get 'excited' about my next period, but I definitely agree that I don't get as emotionally-impacted by the waste implications of my period. I'm an earth-lover, and every time I've unwrapped a tampon wrapped in plastic, or peeled that plastic sticker off the back of a pad, I've felt guilty about the waste I'm generating as a woman with no choice to have a period or not.
‘Period talk’ is something that happens mostly behind closed doors for young women, and even though the mothers and grandmothers who hand down period pep-talks are battling through their own periods - the topic is 'taboo' in many families. I still remember the secrecy and embarrassment I felt having to hide a pad down my bra at primary school and dash to the toilets to avoid being discovered on my undercover mission to do something so common and so normal.
Period shame is a very real part of growing up, but it shouldn't be. Period poverty exists even in developed countries like Australia in the homeless population, and some women use scraps of material, paper or socks to manage their flow on a monthly basis. By normalising period talk, we can positively change period poverty, the period stigma, and ultimately, decrease the impact our periods have on the environment.
The normalisation of menstrual health and sex education is a topic that needs improvement in Australia but we also need action on a global scale, and Marcus is leading the march through hannahpad.
“Around 20% of girls in Ethiopia miss school due to menstruation each year, or they just drop out before grade eight because of their periods. Menstruators across the world particularly in developing countries and girls and women who live in rural areas are being shamed and isolated for getting their period. The notion that menstrual blood is 'unclean' keeps people away from achieving their dreams and reaching their full potential. Having periods is completely normal and natural. Absolutely, everyone should learn and discuss menstruation to break down this longstanding stigma. Especially men!”
To learn more about hannahpad's positive impact, their honest approach to period talk, or to shop their range of organic and sustainable reusable cotton pads, head to hannahpad.com.au - and embrace your period proudly. Use TFA15 for 15% off at the checkout.
The Fashion Advocate x