by Georgia Dillon
The Sustainable Period Products Initiative is a student-run campaign aiming to educate students on the environmental impact of menstruation and sustainable alternatives to traditional, single-use period products. At the heart of the initiative is the sentiment that while reusable period products aren’t suitable for all menstruators, those of us who can make the switch away from single-use products should try to do so. The initiative consists of a social media campaign, a poster campaign, a study of menstruator’s consumer habits and an opportunity for students to trial reusable products for free and to report on their experience with the reusable product.
The project was funded by the Uni-Eco Green Challenges Campaign. This initiative aims to encourage students to “develop solutions that will improve sustainability at their University campus, working toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The campaign is a collaboration between five universities across Europe, from Barcelona to Budapest. Trinity had five projects funded, a biodiversity audit of the campus, the student lab coat resale service, ecocalc (an app that helps students calculate the emissions their travel to college cause), thinking inside the box (a project to establish “novel habitats for bugs, bats and birds through installing ‘bio-boxes’ on campus, to enhance and support local wildlife populations) and our project, the sustainable period product initiative. These projects were led by students, with guidance from staff members.
reusable period products aren’t suitable for all menstruators, those of us who can make the switch away from single-use products should try to do so
We created our social media campaign to bring awareness to the waste generated by single-use period products. For example, the average menstruator will use 12,000 period products per lifetime, enough to fill two minibuses, and most period products are made from 90% plastic. The disposal of period products generates up to 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. We will post this campaign on our Instagram @sustainableperiodstcd, as well as on the Green Campus Committee Social Media. We also plan on postering bathrooms across campus, as this will allow students who may be uncomfortable reading posters out in the open the ability to read about the impact of these products and sustainable alternatives.
the average menstruator will use 12,000 period products per lifetime, enough to fill two minibuses
We also plan on surveying students twice throughout the campaign. Once, in the beginning, to gauge student attitudes on reusable period products, as well as their interest in trying them. Through partaking in this survey, students will have the option of putting their name in a raffle to win a free sustainable period product of their choice. We will ask these students to report on their experiences, which we will anonymously share with other students. We will then resurvey the student body to see if attitudes towards these products have changed. Our goal is to replicate this study in other universities across Ireland or throughout Europe. By using our Uni-Eco platform, we hope to raise awareness of the waste created by these products.
Through partaking in this survey, students will have the option of putting their name in a raffle to win a free sustainable period product of their choice
We were privileged to be chosen to present our project at the Uni-Eco Summer School, a week-long series of presentations and lectures on sustainability and best practices from students and experts from across the five universities. We learnt from other wonderful teams about their initiatives in their home universities and heard from academic staff and sustainability experts about best practices in their universities. The Sustainable Period Product Initiative was selected as the top project, meaning that the project will receive more funding and that we will be able to present our project to participants in the next Uni-Eco Summer School at the University of Utrecht. We hope that Trinity students that experience menstruation will keep a lookout for our social media posts, survey links and posters around campus!