Feedback from a Timaru District Council-led project to help promote waste-free periods has shown that people are looking for sustainable alternatives to tampons and sanitary pads.
The programme, the first of its kind in New Zealand, aims to encourage behaviour change away from using single-use and disposable menstruation products to more sustainable, and cost effective, options.
It was made possible through $12,000 funding from the Canterbury Waste Joint Committee.
Council waste minimisation manager Ruth Clarke said the programme involved delivering presentations to 27 schools in the Canterbury region, backed up by the provision of Waste Free Period packs to each school’s health department.
“These packs included 20 reusable menstrual cups as giveaways to each school and brochures for each girl with information on menstrual cups and information for making reusable pads.
“We have heard from our local schools that many girls miss school because they could not afford tampons or pads, and have to stay at home during their periods. That’s why we started the programme.”
According to a KidsCan Survey from 2018, almost a quarter of New Zealand women who responded haD missed school or work because they were unable to afford sanitary items.
“We estimate the project will benefit around 12,000 young women in Canterbury, informing them of choices for using reusable menstruation products, which can save significant money.
“For example, the market price of a menstrual cup is around $40 but it lasts on average 10 years.
“There are around 1.2million women of menstrual age in New Zealand, who use around 350million tampons per year, not including single-use sanitary hand towels.
“This equates to around 5000 tonnes of waste being sent to landfills every year that do not generally break down in landfills.
Following the successful trial this year, there are plans to hold the seminars every three years to cover all girls who will be at high school over the next 12 years.