Photo by Marcus Cramer on Unsplash
Shouting from rooftops will only get you so far. Sharing, tweeting and reposting information via social media to encourage our social circle to be more aware of the social injustices that happen daily can be frustrating and bear limited results. Natalie Apted– the CEO of Naturally Adapted, and a proud feminist who cares deeply about sustainability and human rights– decided to take change into her own hands by starting a business selling menstrual cups.
Natalie joined us to discuss Naturally Adapted, to further educate us on sustainable period products, and to bring to our attention the shocking statistics on period poverty in the UK.
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash
With a lot of hope for change, Natalie highlighted the rising rates in UK period poverty since March 2020. Before lockdown, 1 in 10 menstruators struggled to access or afford period products. Since the pandemic, this has now increased to 3 in 10. We discuss former MP Paula Sheriff’s extensive campaigning to abolish the tampon tax, the household care packages distributed by the government which omit period products, and ideas on how to donate products to those who need them.
The pandemic has resulted in rapid unemployment and drops in household income. Tragically, it is impacting the poorest households the most. What happens when we are penny-pinching and cannot afford safe and clean sanitary products? Why, in 2020, after years of public campaigns– and during a global pandemic– are period products still classed as luxurious products, and why are they still being taxed?
Period poverty isn’t a developing nations issue, it’s a global issue. Nonprofit organisation I Support The Girls has reported a 35% increase in requests for menstrual products and clean underwear during the pandemic, across the US and globally.
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
Naturally Adapted’s FDA-approved, medical-grade silicone menstrual cup is the most cost-effective reusable period product on the market in the UK– at just £8.99! Natalie created this small brand with an aim to ensure menstruators can access an affordable period product which lasts for ten years, is eco friendly, and introduces them to the possibility of never needing to purchase a tampon or pad again.
Spend £8.99, and this one transaction will last ten years. And you won’t be alone in testing out a reusable period product– the brand you purchase from will support you, provide 1-on-1 advice, and you’ll be using a product that eliminates waste, monthly expenditure and dangerous chemicals.
It gets better! Naturally Adapted, similarly to a lot of the small brands FreeBird collaborate with, donate a portion of their profits to charity. ActionAid is an international charity working towards an equitable and sustainable world, free from poverty and all forms of oppression. They provide reusable menstrual products to menstruators living in poverty. Naturally Adapted also pairs with Packhelp, a sustainable packaging company who plant a tree for each time Natalie sells a cup in their reusable, recyclable cardboard boxes.
Naturally Adapted encourages us to donate period products to those in need. They are looking into operating a buy a cup gift a cup scheme. While that’s still growing, Natalie raises another idea for an initiative– if you use a contraceptive that halts your period, and if you can afford it, why not donate reusable menstrual products each month to food banks?
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash
Why do we keep saying ‘menstruator’? You might be wondering why we use this terminology. Society decided women and girls bleed and have periods– but not all those who menstruate are female. FreeBird recognises that gender is socially constructed, and not every person who menstruates associates themselves with the terms ‘female’, ‘woman’, or ‘girl’. We’re also moving away from calling them ‘feminine hygiene’ products, because of the implication that having your period is fundamentally unhygienic or dirty. Not. True.
We may mention ‘women’ and ‘girls’ during this video chat– but since we started this journey with Sustainable Periods and period poverty, we’re broadening our vocabulary and educating ourselves regularly. We hope you join us on that journey, too!