Friday, 19 September 2008

Sanitary wear.... Where?

The effects of disposable sanitary products on women and the environment is now pretty much old news as you'll see in the excellent overview Seeing Red, which was published by the Womens Environmental Network in 2004.

So as we reach the end of 2008, why is it still so difficult to find alternative, environmentally friendly options widely available in high-street stores and supermarkets?

After all retailers are becoming more concerned about the environment....aren't they? With corporate social responsibility (CSR) statements brandishing promises to reduce plastic bags, packaging and such like.

If this is the case, why aren't retail stores also promoting reusable sanitary products? With the exception of Boots, where one can order a Mooncup, why is it the case that alternative products can normally only be found online or in specialist stores.

Until reusable products become commonplace in high-street chemists and supermarkets, people's awareness will remain limited and opinions will remain unchanged.

I firmly believe that if more women have the opportunity to discover alternative products for themselves, by making them more easily available, we will see a break-through in the market.

So why aren't these products more widely available, for us to select while we go about our normal shopping?

Is it because of lack of demand?

If this is the case, why are they sold elsewhere?

Is it because of lack of supply?

If this is the case, why are they sold elsewhere?

Perhaps it's because of opportunity cost? Now let's think about this one. If more women in the UK buy reusable products, they will spend less money on disposable products, which even in 2001 represented a market value of £370 million.

Call me an old cynic, but I can't think of any other reason why our beloved retailers don't do more to promote alternatives?

If you think they should change and make it easier for women to have more choice, maybe it's now time to do for sanitary products as is being done for plastic bags and packaging.

If you agree, please contact your favourite store and ask that they add reusable sanitary products to their range. The more people who do so, the more evidence there will be that there is an actual demand.

All it needs is one phone call or one email and the opportunity to see if they are really willing to put their money where their Corporate Social Responsibility mouth is.



Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs A,

Like every other item to be replaced by Zero Waste alternatives, suitable ladies sanitary wear will be achieved after consumers take up the challenge.

The producers are locked into their current practices and will take some shifting.

Best of Luck to all concerned!


Christina S said...

Morning AMA, one of the barriers to get through with campaining about santiary products I guess is embarrassment. Time to get over it though and start giving the big stores some pressure - good call.

Eliane said...

I agree with Ruby. There is a lot of embarrassment about this. After all it's all in a section called "feminine hygiene". I did find a mooncup stocked in my local Boots recently (and bought it!) but it is rare.

I'm wondering though, would it be best to tackle each individual shop nearest to us, or to go for the headquarters of Boots, Superdrug etc. en masse and bring greater weight of numbers?

And another thought, how about tackling government and getting the mooncup introduced to children during their sex education lessons at school. I seem to recall (but we are going back a long long time) that the other options were shown to us girls in lessons about menstruation. Get them early!

katyboo1 said...

If you think about how long it took for sanitary products to be advertised on the television, and the fact that we are still taxed on them as luxury items, whereas (old news I know, but it still makes me seethe) men's shaving equipment is not a luxury item, it seems to me that this is an uphill struggle.

Not helped of course by the fact that we are not, as we once were, that 'ok' with the concepts of dirt, blood, gore, and the other detritus of human life. Everything is sanitised. Meat comes in bloodless hunks, death comes in shiny boxes and veg doesn't have dirt on it.

Trying to sell someone on the idea of reusable sanitary products means that somewhere along the line the person using it is going to have to come into contact with more gore than they might like. It's all a bit biological.

And then there's the name. I know that the moon cup is a marvellous idea and I get the symbolism, but to be honest, it's a rubbish name. It's just not dynamic enough. And, and, it looks a bit like a sink plunger with the end cut off.

It needs some work. It really does. Great idea though

Jo Beaufoix said...

I am still plucking up the courage to use one of these, and to purchase reusable sanitary towels. I have a hormone problem which means daily pessaries for half the month so I get through a lot of sanitary products. I think I'm going to buy me some reusable towels to start with.

Anonymous said...

This is definitely something that needs addressing, but as other commenters have said - we need to get over ourselves first LOL!

The secrecy, mystery and shrouding in hushed tones needs to be pushed out of the way before people start traipsing to a public sink to clean out their mooncups.

When I've bought this topic up on WOMEN'S forums sometimes you would just not believe the attitude many have. Some of them were really aggressive about it and thought I was disgusting. Ho hum, there is lots of work that needs to be done, but I'd love to see it as the 'norm'.

Mrs Gx

Unknown said...

Hi everybody!
I still haven't found reusable sanitary towel here in supermarkets or eco-friendly shops... and mooncup too. And I have no many hopes to found them in a so bigoted country as mine (Italy)! I have to buy it on the web...

Now I'm using totally compostable ones that I buy in eco-shops. But I still didn't begin to make compost and so they finish to be thrown in the landfill. The one thing that could be accepted is the fact that compostable towels will degrade in less time than the disposible ones, that seem to reamin eternally in landfills. Going to incinerators my towels wouldn't release toxic fumes (except CO2) because they are made from natural sources (i.e. Ingeo, Mater-Bi).

But I know that it is not the right solution for a long time! I need reusable sanitary products, expecially if I would start my 'indipendent' zero waste week... I'm thinking about it... a bit slowly but I'll do it! ;-)

Maisie said...

I too have a hormone problem which means that the "eco" tampons just aren't absorbant enough, and still I also have to use towels as back up.
I do however now use washable panty liners and pads after using the "eco" ones initially.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Folks - sorry I haven't got the opportunity to reply individually on this occasion, but thank you all for contributing to the discussion. Your feedback and support is so important especially as we do live in a society where this subject is one that is dealt with by embarrassment and I don't know if that will ever change. It is only recently that I have even been able to feel confident to discuss the alternatives on the blog.

There have been some great ideas coming through, especially with re-educating and enabling schools to address the new options that exist. Responsible retailers can also play their part too by stocking alternative products, because if they continue to be "locked behind closed doors" only to be found in online shops or "eco" stores, such products will always be seen as ikky. Even if people can't use the products through personal taste or other matters, any pressure that you can put on by phoning the stores, locally or ringing up the buyers at the head offices would be just fabulous.

But as some of you have recognised, there is the big issue of our modern society dealing with what is regarding as ick. I suppose the answer is for those who prefer to use the current standard products, they should do so without any reprimand, guilt or judgment, but for those who have woken up to the alternatives, to go forth with encouragement and confidence and have the opportunity to try something new. Only that way will a sense of normality see a shift of change.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I think another issue is the cost of advertising and distribution. Most of the companies that make reusable feminine products are still very small and don't have the large advertising/marketing budgets as the non-friendly products do. In the US, girls frequently got little packets of info on our changing bodies and product samples in health class that were sponsored by the big companies that make non eco-friendly products. I doubt that mooncup or divacup is at the point financially where they can give out thousands of free samples yet. :(

As for reusable pads, I've only seen those for sale and learned about them on the Web.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Lisa - that's a good point about advertising and distribution issues. Wouldn't it be great though if one forward-thinking company took a proactive stance and introduced a reusable range as part of their product range. Reusable pads could be made up in no time. I am confident it wouldn't create much damage to their existing lines and they would get fantastic PR opportunities. So if there are any executives looking in from SAN PRO companies, please have a think and give the idea a chance. You'll save me a phone call at least! ;-D

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