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‘A quarter of people say they would switch to reusable period products’

The team at North London Waste Authority explain the roots of their new campaign around International Women’s Day

When we commissioned a recent survey, 40% of respondents said they wanted to reduce the waste created by their period, but didn’t know how or found it too difficult. 2,000 women aged 14–49 took part in the survey, commissioned by North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The poll also revealed that respondents would be most likely to switch to reusables if they were cheaper and easier to clean.

A brand new campaign from NLWA is hoping to address both these factors and more, making it easier for women and others who menstruate to use reusable alternatives to pads and tampons. Featuring online info, workshops, discount codes, and an awareness campaign across the streets of North London, the initiative is called ‘Reduce, Reuse, Your Cycle’.

Officially launching the campaign last month was Islington councillor Rowena Champion, who said: “The survey data proves what we already knew about North Londoners: they want to reduce their waste wherever they can. They just need a little bit of help, and that’s exactly what our new campaign is here to do.”

Arming people with the information they need to switch to reusables is the campaign website, reducereuseyourcycle.co.uk. A one-stop shop for anyone curious to learn more about reusables, the website features how-to video guides for a range of period products and frequently asked questions tackling tricky and sensitive topics. No question is off-limits, as Cllr Champion explained: “Reduce, Reuse, Your Cycle is breaking down the stigma of talking about periods, helping us make better choices for the planet and ourselves.”

The conversation doesn’t end online, either: putting a friendly face to the expert advice is the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN). The group are running a series of free, practical workshops to help women and others who menstruate get to grips with the different kinds of products on the market. With over a quarter (26%) of survey respondents saying they would switch to reusable period products if they were easier to use, these workshops are providing the kind of hands-on help people are calling for.

As well as education, the campaign is focusing on affordability, as almost half of survey respondents (46%) suggested that they’d make the switch if reusable period products were cheaper. Discount codes available on the campaign website will offer up to 25% off when purchasing products from three campaign partners – Cheeky Wipes, Flowette, and All Matters. Also helping to overcome the cost barrier is the Reduce, Reuse, Your Cycle online savings calculator. While pads and tampons seem cheaper than reusables, buying them every month can add up – to as much as £1,500 over a lifetime! Using the calculator, users can put in how many pads and tampons they use per period to see how much they could save by switching to reusables.

The campaign comes at a time when reusable period products are increasing in popularity. About a third of survey respondents said they already use reusable period products at least some of the time. When Reduce, Reuse, Your Cycle put out a call out for fans of reusables to appear in a bus stop ad campaign around North London, there was no shortage of volunteers to share their stories.

Campaign champion Rebecca said she loved the convenience of reusables: “I like that they are always to hand – you never have to worry about them running out! It also feels great to not be spending money every month on disposable products.”

Fellow reusables fan Saskia cited the environmental benefits, saying that “it is so empowering to know that I’m doing my bit for the planet by having a zero waste, altogether greener period”.

Saskia’s not alone; with sustainability a growing priority for consumers across all markets, many women and others who menstruate appreciate being able to make a small change that has a big impact. A lifetime of using pads and tampons adds up to about 200 kilograms of waste per person, and a lot of this is incorrectly flushed down the toilet. Switching to reusables even part of the time can make a huge ecological difference.

“Everyone should make the choice that’s right for them and their body,” said Cllr Champion. “What’s important is that those who want to use reusables are empowered to make that choice by having the resources and information they need. That’s what this campaign is all about.”


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