Period poverty needs reusable solutions, not just disposable "bandages"
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Bring an end to period poverty by providing reusable pads to woman in need.
Period poverty is a concern for almost 1 million woman and girls under 25 in Ontario; across Canada that grows to over 6 million. This poses a number of risks not only financial but, health and environmental as well. Some woman resort to using socks or old rags if they need to get to work or school. Our surveys have even found that some woman resort to rinsing out and reusing tampons.
There are many health concerns with the chemicals found in disposable products are enormous. Allergic reactions, hormone disruption, reproductive and gynaecological disorders like endometriosis are all side effects from the combination of synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances in disposable pads and tampons. These products are a derivative of the petroleum industry. They are made from combinations of plastics, synthetic fibers, wood pulp, artificial fragrances, adhesives, chemical gels – things you do not want next to one of the most sensitive parts of your body. These materials attain their crisp white appearance as a result of the bleaching process. This process creates harmful by product chemicals like dioxin and mercury. Synthetic fragrances are a chemical cocktail using thousands of compounds to produce a scent. Phthalates are used to make plastics softer and more flexible, are a known carcinogen, and chemicals like dioxin are known to be absorbed into the body and studies have found that it gets stored within fatty tissues. All of this creates pollution, harmful and bio-accumulative by-products, which not only end up in the environment, but also remain in our bodies unless they can be flushed out.
On average, individuals who menstruate will menstruate for 30 – 40 years. During that time, they will use approximately 16,000 disposable pads. All that waste is not even taking into consideration the waste and pollution associated with manufacturing, shipping, and packaging. Alternatively, an individual would use about 50 reusable cloth pads in their lifetime instead.
The Canadian government is recognizing this is a problem and have made menstrual products tax free across the country in 2015. A study was conducted by the Center of Economic Analysis in 2018 to measure the cost and feasibility of providing protection for the vulnerable. Their product analysis found that the average woman should need 23 pads per cycle.
Per the linked study, the government calculates that it would provide protection at an annual cost of $87, or 276 pads per person.
Municipal governments are currently working towards implementing legislation that will make period products free for low income and vulnerable woman. Hamilton and Toronto are leading they way in these talks. I want women to have an option about their care regardless of income. Disposable pads may be the only option for some situations, but I feel that it is important for all woman to have a choice in the form of protection that is right for them. Menstrual products are 'not a luxury. It's like toilet paper or soap'.
What is the solution?
Reusable period and incontinence protection pads. This is not a new idea, and they are currently used in many countries throughout the world. Up until 1921, the only choices people had were grass, sheep wool, rags, and reusable pads. Johnson and Johnson worked in collaboration with nurses on the battlefields to create the first disposable pad out of wood pulp that all changed.
You can use as little as 6 to 15 reusable pads to cover your whole cycle. When cared for, reusable pads pads are expected to last up to 7 years. Savings potential is well over $400 dollars in that time frame per the government study pad requirement data.
What is this important to me?
I have created a socially mandated business called Rebel Rags which provides individuals the opportunity to feel empowered, dignified and independent with their personal care. Rebel Rags offers a solution to individuals seeking an environmentally conscious, chemical free and cost effective alternative for their menstrual and incontinence needs. By providing an easy to clean and reusable alternative to toxic and expensive disposable pads, our products allow users to maintain a sense of dignity by ensuring their personal hygiene needs are always met. Rebel Rags donates pads as economic status should not limit options for personal protection. We are working with organizations to enure that this critical Canadian recognized medical device is available to the woman in our country. Rebel Rags wants to create a non judgemental environment with the intention to reduce the stigma and shame surrounding both menstrual health and bladder incontinence. We believe by creating workshops that will be ran in local schools for grade 7 and 8 students, and through other organizations we can meet this goal. Rebel Rags products are designed to create a long life for the product, while also allowing individuals who may have sensory issues to feel comfortable.
Find Rebel Rags on Facebook; the customer recommendations are just some of the praise we have received about how these pads have changed how they feel about their period.
Who are we working with?
Rebel Rags is collaborating with a number of organizations to ensure that our products are available to those who need them the most and that they are available with no economic barrier.
This is a very important topic to me. I will ensure that this petition is heard not only in London, but Ontario's municipal and Canada's federal government as well.
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