Last week our Information and Guidance Manager, Sharon, met with the team from en-form, an environmental charity based in Colchester who have launched the Love Your Flow initiative. They have two main aims in this project; to reduce period poverty and to inform people about the choices they have with regards to period products.
Period poverty is an increasing issue in our society today. Most of us are aware of the rising cost of living, and the struggle that many people have to afford food, fuel and accommodation costs. Grace from en-form quotes that 1 in every 10 girls in the UK is unable to afford sufficient period protection. On average, a menstruating individual uses up to 15,000 disposable pads or tampons in their life. This equates to an average spend of £5,000 in a lifetime on period products, and a yearly expenditure of £200.
Many menstruating individuals do not realise the variety of period products which are available. Reusable pads, for example, can last several years meaning far less waste and cost, as well as being much more environmentally friendly than disposable products. They are also better for our own health, as they do not contain the harmful chemicals which have been found to be in disposable products. En-form want to help people become fully aware of the choices available to them by knowing their choices and giving them full guidance and access to choose the right period wear for them. There are other options also available, including period pants and menstrual cups which may be better for many individuals but are not as widely advertised or known about. Every individual is different and entitled to make their own decisions about how they manage their menstrual cycle; having all the relevant information to be able to make these decisions is imperative.
Disposable period products, towels and tampons, also have a huge impact on our environment. Andrew from en-form explained ‘one issue is that 41% of individuals are still flushing tampons down the toilet which is a huge issue across Essex and the whole of the UK in fact because they cause, as we know, enormous backlogs in the system, sewage blockages, leaks, there’s huge issues with that. They wash up on our beaches, it’s a massive problem.’ The environment is inherently linked to our health, and we need to consider the impact we are having on it.
En-form provide workshops across the county of Essex providing information and resources that will enable better health and environmental choices when it comes to management of menstruating. As part of the project, they will be training individuals and teachers across primary and secondary schools to educate pupils and other groups on the various choices there are for managing their periods. As well as this they want to make schools aware of the free period wear, they can offer their students.
If you would like to access support around any of the issues mentioned in this blog, give the Healthwatch Essex Information & Guidance Service a call on 0300 500 1895, email [email protected] or text/WhatsApp on 07712 395398.
If you would like to find out more about holding a workshop for your school or company, contact en-form at [email protected]