By Olivia Kersey-Bronec
It costs about 5 bucks for a box of tampons. While it may not seem like much, that really adds up. The average menstruator uses about a box of tampons a period cycle which results in an average spending of about $2,200 on menstrual care in a person’s lifetime. The average menstruator uses approximately 11,000 menstrual products (pads, tampons) over their lifespan and thus produces 250-300 lbs. of garbage (Stein and Kim, 2009).
Why I choose to use the word menstruators: “This linguistic choice locates menstruation beyond the confines of gender as socially constructed and expresses solidarity with women who do not menstruate (due to illness, age or some aspect of their physiology) and transgender men and genderqueer individuals who do in spite of their gender identity. Refusing to assume who does and does not menstruate is one way of challenging the rigid gender binary that perpetuates privilege and oppression” (Bobel, 2010).
In light of the environmental and financial impacts due to the tampon and pad industry, there has been a movement to encourage menstruators to move away from these products and utilize diva cups. Diva cups have been around since the 1930’s and are “reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cups that are worn internally, collecting rather than absorbing menstrual flow” according to divacup.com. Diva cups are not associated with the health risks that tampons are, they only cost about 20-30 dollars, and they can last up to two years. People over time have been utilizing this resource as a sustainable way to maintain their hygiene. The Puget Sound community is no exception.
This fall semester, four individuals have come together to help provide UPS students with access to free, sustainable hygiene products (diva cups) through the on-campus green fee initiatives. This program provides students with the opportunity to submit green and sustainable ideas which, after approval, will be provided funding. The diva cup initiative was founded by Rose Pytte (She/Her), Rachael Laitila (She/Her), Lucca Monnie (She/Her), and Tessa Samuels (She/Her) who desire to create a more environmentally and financially sustainable way for menstruating students of UPS to have access to hygiene products. The goal for their project is to provide 3,000 diva cups to the UPS campus in order “to decrease waste and empower all people who menstruate by providing them with free, reusable menstrual cups” (Green Fee Project App.). In order to advertise and create awareness they “will be creating a Zine (a mini, home-made magazine) that describes how to use menstrual cups and the benefits of using them, and distribute it to the student body to raise awareness, educate, and advertise” (Green Free Project App.). This initiative incorporates sustainability issues on campus as well as menstruation rights for all menstruating individuals. Currently, the initiative is going through the approval processes, and they hope to get it passed and running by January 2017. Free menstrual care should be a right for all people, and these UPS students (with the support of the school) are on their way to making that a reality.