cloth pads on tour ~ Newcastle vegan festival ~ eco-activism

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Vegan festival fun, top 5 scary facts about the disposable menstrual hygiene industry,  Ecofemme, and the top question I get asked in my eco-activism work… Oooh I am so excited to share all this with you!

Let’s start with the question… “What is the the biggest impact I can do at home to tread a little lighter on the Earth?

A lot of people would say switch to household chemicals, recycle more and use electricity responsibly. What if you already do all these? What about things that remain invisible with no giant advertising campaign or government initiative? I’m talking about making the switch to re-usables not disposables….cloth pads and menstrual cups in aid of our Earth. If you are not menstruating don’t let that stop you – tell all the other women you know and spread the word for our Earth. The Dalai Lama recently spoke about the feminine attributes of caring and compassion. I am passionate about extending that caring  out to the world, of which we are a part. We can do it, women.

Back at home, in the little Beach House, conversations often flip between menstruation matters (me) and vegan recipes (Lee)… Well we find it perfectly normal anyway, hahaha. So Lee and I were over the moon when we got lunch-time speaking slots ‘back to back’ at this year’s Vegan Festival UK held in the exquisitely decorated Assembly Rooms in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It was a stunning venue for a wonderful happy festival on a boiling hot summery British day!

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Lee, who wrote Peace and Parsnips – a beautiful bright and happy vegan cookery book for everyone, chatted happily through many vibrant and colourful photos of food and travelling. He gave the odd cookery tip and nugget of vegan info and then signed some books – his presentation was fantastic. I was then to do a talk about Woman’s Wheel and my eco-activism work, on the theme of sustainability around menstrual products.

As this was my first big ‘speaking gig’ I was super-excited and fully prepared with a half-hour presentation about my own story and my transition from bridge examiner to menstrual activist, wa-hoo(!). I also spoke about Kathy’s story, and about how her ethical organisation called EcoFemme came to exist. The ‘Femmes’ are doing so much great work out there and I was over the moon to be accepted as a voluntary ‘ambassador’ for them, inspired by the good work I see them doing. They helped me so much with this and gave loads of facts and information about the environment and women’s health, and the financial implications of using plastic disposable pads and tampons too. Thank you! Xx

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I was very happy to see so many men in the audience too; around a third I reckon. Thank you once more men for being there, and for staying for the entire duration of the talk when you could have gone off and bought vegan ice cream from the lady outside the door! 🙂 Afterwards I received so many lovely positive comments from people, and made some lovely new friends – I was on a cloth pad high for hours and could not wipe the smile off my face!

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I just want to give you a quick top 5 scary facts about the disposable industry and it’s yucky plasticy products while it’s fresh in my mind. And just to let you know, there will be more info where this came from….I’m just getting started with this and am loving every second of it. We all need to hear this stuff because we are not told, then we can tell all the women we know. One day I hope the conversation about our choice of sanitary protection will be as normal as talking about what type of tea we drink!

Scary Fact Number 1: There are 5 carrier bags worth of crude-oil derived plastic in one disposable sanitary pad, and an average woman throws away 16,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime.

Scary Fact Number 2: Disposable pads take 500-800 years to break down in our Earth and never fully break down in our oceans (plastic eventually becomes microscopic particles of suspended matter).

Scary Fact Number 3: Disposables cost approximately 6 times that reusables cost and we are collectively spending 349 million pounds just in the UK per year on pads and tampons. The even more scary thing is that Tampax and Always are both owned by giants Proctor and Gamble, with other well known brands owned by Johnson and Johnson.

Scary Fact Number 4: The bleach used in pads to make them white doesn’t actually sterilise the pads – it just ensures they are white. This means that chemicals are left in the pad after the bleaching process is done and these chemicals are big nasties such as dioxin (linked to cancer).

Scary Fact Number 5: The big pad/tampon companies don’t have to disclose what is in their products, and 75% of UK gynaecologists believe that symptoms of intimate irritation increase around the time of menstruation – indicating that the chemicals in pads which are  close to the skin causes the irritation.

There are so many other big scary facts about what these products do to us and our planet (and our wallets), I am looking forward to more opportunities to spread the word about the alternatives 🙂 As I said at the talk I urge everyone to have a look and see what is available out there online – there are so many brands and makes for you to choose from!

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And if in doubt, then let me reassure you that alternatives are super-comfy and easy to care for. Cloth pads instead of disposable sanitary pads and menstrual cups instead of tampons!

Have a look at this video for care advice for cloth pads:

Try them, make the switch, be the change you want to see in the world! Xx

Thanks again to Louise at Vegan Festival UK for having us, EcoFemme, Women’s voices for the Earth, and Women’s network for the environment. For more on Eco-Activism over at Woman’s Wheel click here.

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Can’t wait to talk at a town near you ~ if you would like me to speak at your event and bring a little menstrual magic and love, please contact me on womanswheel@gmail.com or leave a comment below 🙂

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