Full Circles Foundation embarks on sustainable menstruation initiative as part of their Strong Girls, Fair Economy, and Healthy Earth mission

FCF campers Tyra and Davis and Aniah Bland, and FCF Program Leader, Toni Craige, have been selected as one of 6 projects to receive a $1,000 Fellowship though SustainUS, a youth environmentalist organization.  They are working on a project to increase awareness of sustainable, reusable menstrual products. The Fellowships were awarded to 6 small-scale sustainable development projects all over the United States.  For the year 2013, Tyra, Aniah, and Toni will receive mentoring and support for their project, and get to know the other fellows though conference calls and in-person meetings. 

The average woman in America will spent over $2,000 over a life time on single-use, disposable menstrual products.  Reusable products like menstrual cups (cost $35 and last for 10 years!), and cloth pads (you can make them yourself), are great for the environment, and for women’s wallets.  They will be working to get the word out about sustainable menstrual products, and are also developing a line of reusable cloth menstrual pads to sell as a microventure to support FCF.  This is an exciting and empowering opportunity – we can’t wait to see what they do with it! 

Here’s some more information about the project.  Sustainable Cycles is a great resource to learn more about reusable menstrual products.  Please let us know if you want to know more, or be involved!

Tyra sewing reusable cloth menstrual pads at the FCF Raleigh office.

Tyra sewing reusable cloth menstrual pads at the FCF Raleigh office.

Project Description:

Campers from Full Circles Foundation (represented by Tyra Davis, Aniah Bland, and Toni Craige), will partner with Sustainable Cycles (represented by Sarah Konner and Toni Craige).  The FCF girls will learn to make reusable cloth menstrual pads to sell as a fundraiser for FCF, and they will create “educators‘ packets” on the what, why and how of sustainable menstrual products.  Sustainable Cycles (a sustainable menstruation advocacy organizations) will distribute the packets to community educators all over the country.  Sustainable Cycles is also planning and promoting a cross-country bicycle tour this summer to raise awareness.

Why?

Conventional products are expensive and wasteful: The average women in the US will spend about $2000 over her lifetime on single-use, disposable menstrual products.  The products are made of trees, bleach, cotton, and glue (none of which are great things to put inside your body).  After one use they are thrown away.  The average woman throws away a huge truckload of menstrual products over her lifetime.

Very few people know about the alternatives:  A very small proportion of US women use sustainable alternatives (menstrual cups, sea sponges, reusable cloth pads). It is not lucrative business to sell these products (since they are inexpensive, and you do not need to replace them often).  Our culture of silence about women’s bodies and menstruation stops people from even talking about the issue.

How we are addressing the challenge:

Making an alternative:  We are making a sustainable product by hand, on a small scale, which will replace tons of trash produced by multinational corporations.

Income source for FCF girls and programming:  This project could eventually provide fair and empowering employment for FCF girls. 

Sparking a grassroots movement, empowering community educators:  We hope that the hands-on experience of making the pads and educators packets will get FCF girls fired-up about these issues.  They will have the tools and enthusiasm needed to spark a grassroots change in their communities.  Sustainable Cycles will reach out to our large national network of supporters to put the educator’s packets in action all over the country.


Our allies:

Sustainable Cycles network:  Toni Craige and Sarah Konner of Sustainable Cycles spent the summer of 2011 bicycling down the west coast doing grassroots education about sustainable menstrual products.  They have a listserv of 300 people, and a smaller list of about 15 people who are interested in doing small-scale peer education workshops.

FCF network:  FCF’s large and supportive network will be our target market for selling pads and doing community education workshops in Raleigh.

Menstrual cup companies: Sustainable Cycles has relationships will all three menstrual cup companies that sell cups in the USA.  They will provide free sample cups to put in the educators packets.  

GladRags:  GladRags is the largest cloth pad company in the US.  Sustainable Cycles has a good relationship with the owner, who is open to providing advice on manufacturing and business strategies.

Toni and Sarah play around with cups during their summer 2011 bike trip down the West Coast.

Toni and Sarah play around with cups during their summer 2011 bike trip down the West Coast.

2 thoughts on “Full Circles Foundation embarks on sustainable menstruation initiative as part of their Strong Girls, Fair Economy, and Healthy Earth mission

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