A Final Message
"I started The Dot Org's blog in February 2020 after being inspired by our founders Gabby, Mal, & Nina and the mission their organization brought to Washtenaw County. This platform allowed me to explore menstruation through several lenses, deepening my understanding of the topic. I had not formally heard about period poverty prior to joining TDO, but this social justice and public health issue has since become a project that I am passionate about. TDO has afforded me the opportunity to know many amazing people, become a part of the change I wanted to see in my community, and learn about a prevalent disparity that affects millions of people every day. I am forever grateful to be a leader in this organization" -Kate (Director of Digital Content, blog writer)
"I joined The Dot Org as a freshman in 2018. Back then, the organization was one year old and still learning how to achieve their progressive ambitions. Almost immediately, I was chosen to join the outreach committee and get to work on my own independent project. New to both U-M and Ann Arbor, I threw myself into the city's activist space and dedicated my free time to changing how our community views periods and legislates period products. Four years later, The Dot Org is my most proudest accomplishment of my entire college career.
Despite countless unanswered phone calls and emails, battles with bureaucracy at the Provost office, and frustrating conversations with those disturbed by openly discussing periods, our team has achieved more than we ever could've imagined. We've provided over 600 period kits to local organizations in need and distributed almost 500 menstrual cups to U-M students. We've collaborated with Skyline High School's period club to donate products for their pilot program. Our latest project was with Ypsilanti Public Library, where we initiated a 6-month partnership to offer free period products in their bathrooms, as well as informative material on how to choose the right period product for your individual cycle. Finally, we worked tirelessly on the campaign to require free period products in all U-M bathrooms (women's and men's). And we were successful.
These past four years have shown me that hard work for your passion doesn't feel like work, but rather a mission you're dedicated to fulfill. I'm incredibly grateful to have learned this feeling at such a young age, especially for something that is helping people reclaim their body's right to dignity, autonomy, and hygiene. I can't even put into words how lucky I am to have walked in the Angell Hall classroom that October evening in 2018. The Dot Org feels like a piece of me that will never be separated, even when I move thousands of miles away from its home.
Thank you to the entire team for making this organization so successful and so special. Thank you to Maddie Cutler for allowing me to peacefully transition out of my passion project, knowing it'll be in great hands. And finally, thank you to every single person who has donated, supported, or simply observed The Dot Org and its endeavors. We couldn't have done it without you. With love," -Livvy Hintz (President)
"I was a student at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor when one of my older sister’s best friends, Nina Serr, co-founded The Dot Org. Watching Nina and her co-founders have the opportunity to speak at the TEDxUofM conference, form meaningful connections with the community of people experiencing homelessness, and begin to break down the stigma around menstruation was beyond inspiring. When I got to UofM, I knew right off the bat that The Dot Org had the sort of mission and atmosphere that I was searching for to fortify my college experience. With such a tight knit community, it was easy to feel like I and my ideas were welcomed and accepted by the members of TDO, even before joining the executive board. Many meetings, while also including slides that gave insight into the issue and prevalence of period poverty, consisted of having open conversations about our experiences with menstruation, the stigma surrounding it, and how we could change the narrative. What I have loved (and bragged about) the most about TDO is that nearly every idea raised in meetings is brought to life, and we have been able to see the effects in real time. Between Ann Arbor Public Libraries offering free products, the homeless shelters we partner with being overwhelmed with product donations, the Ann Arbor city ordinance, and the University supplying free products in many bathrooms on campus, we have seen our hard work pay off. Although not all of these changes were a direct result of our work, it feels incredibly gratifying to have contributed to making a difference in the lives of students and community members. I am forever grateful for this group of dedicated students and our founders for creating an opportunity to find my place and to make a positive impact on the UofM and Ann Arbor communities that I adore so much." -Cammie (Director of Outreach)
"In the middle of the pandemic, like so many, I was floundering. However I was lucky enough to find The Dot Org through the President, Livvy Hintz. Immediately I recognized The Dot Org as a community with values and interests I held myself, which made work for the club and my college experience exponentially better. I’m so thankful to have been a member of such a great organization that not only talks about ways to make a difference in the world, but actually executes these plans. I am so proud to say I have contributed to this organization in any way and The Dot Org will always hold a special place in my college experience and life." -Abby (Outreach team)
Having a menstruation-related emergency or finding yourself running short on tampons or pads is not uncommon for most menstruators. Many of us have probably had these or similar experiences; running to a nearby friend or shop to see if there is any way that someone could spare a product. Instead of texting friends or having awkward conversations with strangers, what if all you needed was a phone to find out where you could get period products in your local area?
In January, a small group of young women from Amsterdam reached out to The Dot Org in hopes of uniting our respective organizations under the united mission to eliminate period poverty. During our (virtual) meeting, these women, who have since officially launched their brand as Periodic, explained one of their projects called the MenstruMap. This map, which acts as a filter over Google Maps, shows exact locations of businesses in a given city that provide free period products in their bathrooms. MenstruMap is also interactive, allowing anyone from the general public to submit the name and location of a business that they know provides free period products in their restrooms. Inspired by a project her brother was involved in, Annika, the woman behind this idea, met with me to discuss how she came about this idea and brought it to fruition with her team.
The MenstruMap provides obvious benefits to people who are in need of menstrual products or experience an unexpected emergency when in public. However, the main question Annika and her team wrestled with was how to keep businesses motivated to keep products in their bathrooms. Many owners cited cost and supply issues as the main deterrents from supplying their bathrooms with products. As the MenstruMap was created off of Google Maps, Annika believes that the free publicity and showcase as a business contributing to menstrual equality that comes from being on the MenstruMap will keep businesses motivated to continue supplying pads and tampons in their bathrooms.
The concept for the MenstruMap proposes a symbiotic relationship between the customers and the owners. Businesses receive a free boost in advertising and will be recognized for being a part of the Periodic movement. Furthermore, the contributions of independent establishments will accumulate to help thousands of people who experience period poverty. At the end of our meeting, Annika described her future hopes for the MenstruMap to become a part of the international fight against period poverty. While the MenstruMap is mainly focused in Amsterdam for right now, the MenstruMap has the potential to spread across the world with so many cities and countries working together to help make period products more accessible (just like Ann Arbor).
Periodic Website: https://www.periodic.nl/home
Periodic Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/periodic.nl/
Period poverty is an issue that millions of people across the world combat on a daily basis. Despite menstruation being a natural process of the human body, product costs and accessibility continue to prevent people from obtaining the products they need. The Dot Org is focused in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county, allowing us to make a direct impact on the issues of period poverty within our local community. Much of our work is on a smaller scale, but we are fortunate to be located in a largely progressive area were many officials, such as the Ann Arbor City Council, want to make macroscopic changes to tackle period poverty. However, this does not mean that we cannot look to other cities to learn about their innovations and ideas regarding these same issues. Observing the work of others can help us create dynamic solutions that address the persisting gaps of our communities.
While on Google news a few days ago, a particular headline about a “Grab-N-Flow” shed caught my attention. The article, which came from a Philadelphia-based news outlet*, detailed how Shelley Aragoncillo, a Penn Medicine employee, arranged for a shed to be constantly stocked with free period products in her city. Shelley either bought products or collected donations to maintain the supply. She also ensured that her shed, called “Grab-N-Flow,” was also open 24/7 and allowed recipients to obtain their products with complete anonymity. Since she launched “Grab-N-Flow,” Shelley described the expansion of the shed to a journalist for Today**. In this interview, she talks about how the shed now includes pregnancy tests and various items for new moms and infants.
Shelley’s idea for this shed is simple, yet that is where its beauty lies. Making large changes in cities and states requires a lot of lobbying, resources, and time. These types of movements may have the most long-term impact, but creating and executing ideas like the “Grab-N-Flow” shed addresses immediate needs within a community. As legislators and advocates work at the government level, laypeople can also contribute to reducing period poverty; contributions do not have to be extravagant to be helpful or meaningful. Working at a local level allows community-specific projects to come to fruition which may, in turn, build support for the larger goals of a group of people or an organization.
We have seen several strides in combating period poverty over the past few years. Menstrual product taxes are being removed in various states, reusable period products are becoming more mainstream and accessible, and several organizations have banded together to reach the common goal of ending period poverty. The “Grab-N-Flow” shed highlights a more nuanced aspect of these accomplishments, which involves regular people recognizing gaps in their communities and working to fulfill them. Shelley’s work sets a great example for the rest of the nation, and even our own organization about the importance of similar local efforts. We hope to see “Grab-N-Flow” sheds make an appearance across the nation and maybe even in our own community!
TDO 2021 Wrap-UP
This past year has had many unexpected changes, twists, turns, and variants (thank you COVID), but nonetheless many of us can still reflect on the positive aspects of this year. While attending our last Executive Board meeting, our current President reflected on how much growth The Dot has gone through in the past year. As an organization that relied on in-person interaction and fundraising, our leaders and members got creative to ensure that we still fulfilled all pillars of our mission. This blog post may not be as informative or educational as others, but a brief history about TDO’s success in 2021 is warranted after all of the hard work our team has put in.
In January, The Dot expanded our Eboard to include more members on all three divisions of our leadership team: advocacy, outreach, and digital. Working with so many individuals allowed us to develop new professional relationships and create so many of the amazing initiatives we accomplished this year. In February, we were virtually hosted by the UM Public Health Association to discuss the impact of period poverty on the public health of our local community. Later that month our Advocacy Team led us through a successful Valentine’s Day gram fundraiser, which reached recipients all across campus. During March and April, TDO was featured in a local newspaper called Groundcover News to highlight and advertise our free period product subscription service. After the summer break, our returning members got to work right away to put together period packages for BirthBrite in Jackson, MI. With Halloween spirit throughout October, we made and hung tampon ghosts around various bathrooms and building on campus to promote TDO’s mission while also providing a free menstrual product for anyone who needed them. We also hosted a Halloween-themed 5K on a rainy day at the end of that month. November was a busy month for us with a tailgate treat bag fundraiser, making period packages for Michigan Movement, and our Kendra Scott collaboration. Our President Livvy Hintz was also featured in Detroit Free Press to discuss the importance of Ann Arbor’s period product mandate. Finally, in December we launched our first ever merch line, hosted a period party where we sold self-care kits, and most importantly, took a public stance on UM lack of decision or action on Ann Arbor City Council’s decision that period products be available in all public restrooms.
*For this last point, if you are interested in showing the University that there is a need and duty to uphold this ordinance on campus, please click this link to read about the history of UM’s resistance to providing period products in restrooms and sign our petition (https://www.change.org/p/university-of-michigan-administration-university-of-michigan-abide-by-ann-arbor-s-ordinance-to-require-free-menstrual-products).
As you can see, we have had a very successful year at TDO and we could not have done it without so much support from our community. We look forward to continuing our work and mission in the new year!
Big News for Michigan Tampon Tax!!
Major progress has been made in Lansing, MI over the past week as a bill combatting the 6% sales tax on menstrual hygiene products, introduced by Rep. Yancey-(D) and sponsored by Rep. Posthumus-(R), made it through the House of Representatives. Similar bills have been introduced in Michigan before, but this is the first time that this type of legislation has made it far enough to be voted on. With bipartisan support, many are optimistic about the future of this bill and what it means for people who purchase these products on a regular basis. I can tell you firsthand that TDO is very excited!
Over the past ten years, several states have passed legislation to eliminate the sales tax on all period-related products included pads, tampons, menstrual cups, liners, and other alternatives. Many of these strides have been made possible by state legislators and advocates, who are the best route to help combat period poverty on larger scales. Several of these movements have been championed by the national organization Period Equity (www.periodequity.org), who have had their own experience with the tampon tax and Michigan courts. Their updated statistics show that the “tampon tax” has only been tackled in about half of the states, meaning there is still a long way to go.
While 6% may not seem like a significant amount, the culmination of all product purchases adds up quickly. To better visualize this scenario, let’s put it into concrete terms. First, it is important to note that tampons are recommended to be changed about every four hours. There are twenty-four hours in a day, about 8 of which are for sleep, which leaves sixteen hours in a person’s day. Therefore, a sixteen-hour day with a new tampon every four hours, plus at least two for overnight, estimates that the average person with an average flow uses six tampons in a day. Now, multiply this estimate by five, as the average duration of a period is five days. That is 30 tampons for one period! According to Target’s website, the average box of tampons contains between 28-48 tampons. All of this math comes down to a roughly box a month, in which case, shows that the 6% sales tax on every tampon box purchased does has a large cumulative impact on the consumer. Eliminating this tax would relieve a huge financial burden and could reduce the long-standing effects that period poverty has.
I have written about the tampon tax before and period poverty is a major focus of The Dot. While we do not focus on the legislative aspects of these issues, they are still important to us and significantly play a role in our work. We are hopeful and excited to see where this bill goes and what it means for period-product consumers in the state of Michigan!
Periods...but Make Them Green
Period product accessibility is at the heart of TDO’s mission as we strive to decrease menstrual inequities across the University of Michigan and Washtenaw county. Some of our largest projects in this realm include our period product subscription, collaborating with Central Student Government at UM to get period products into all bathrooms on campus, and our OrganiCup campaign in the Fall of 2020. The OrganiCup x TDO collaboration added yet another lens to our period product mission as the words “sustainability” and “reusable” continued to come up in our conversations with menstrual cup recipients.
Environmentally-friendly period products have only come to the forefront of menstrual equity campaigns in the past few decades. The main goal of menstrual equity, including TDO’s own mission, is to provide people with access to the products they need during their period. However, many of these movements have now pivoted to acknowledge the waste generated by menstruators across the world as they use disposable products. Many of these products are packaged in colorful plastic wrappers and liners, which take centuries to degrade when thrown away in landfills1. According to Global Citizen1, the average menstruator will use between 5000-15000 period products in their lifetime, which would create about 400 pounds of period package waste, which is about the same weight as a large lion or tiger. The premise of period products is to safely collect and dispose of blood, but with about half of the world’s population generating hundreds of pounds of waste, there has to be an alternative solution. In my own experience, I have definitely stopped to consider how much waste I am contributing to the environment every time I finish another box of tampons or pads.
Fortunately, in the era of modern technology and innovation, there are several alternatives to pads and tampons for those seeking a more eco-friendly approach to their period. OrganiCup, who have recently rebranded as Allmatters,
(https://www.allmatters.com/) opened TDO up to exploring the sustainable period product world. Through their passion for sustainable period products, our organization began discussing menstruation in terms of waste generation and reusable products. On my own time, I have taken this conversation one step further and looked into other alternatives to traditional pads and tampons. In fact, all types of similar products exist including the Flex menstrual disc2, Saalt Wear Leakproof Underwear3, Aisle reusable pads and liners4, and many others. While sustainable periods may seem intimidating, developers and companies really try to make a product that could fit anyone's needs. The rising diversity of the sustainable product market in conjunction with increased accessibility to these items suggest that periods might continue to become more "green."
The quick innovation of these companies and the rising plethora of options for such products shows that menstrual equity is turning a new leaf. Soon enough, these products could make their way into homeless shelters, nonprofit kits, and donations taken to impoverished countries. Offering reusable menstrual products not only would help the waste crisis our planet is facing, but it would help provide more permanent solutions to those who struggle to access period products. There are still several obstacles, such as clean water and soap, that limit the extent of success in such plans, but these are still glimmers of hope showing that reusable period products are here to stay and benefit more than the savvy, modern environmentalist.
The DOT Org, and anyone who reads this blog, understands that the inequities in access to menstrual products is an intersectional issue that needs to be addressed for the betterment of menstruators, and non-menstruators alike. Governments from countries such as Scotland, and New Zealand recently announced their plans to offer free menstrual products to people. These announcements drew global attention to period poverty, but there are ways beyond governments that people can care for one another when addressing menstrual equity. Since my freshman year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I have been curious as to if the university could provide these products to the student community, and what ripple effects prioritizing this could have.
Receiving a formal education was not something always offered to cisgender women, who currently represent the majority of people that menstruate, so it’s not surprising that schools and other large organizations aren’t set up for their well-being. I grew up attending public schools, where soap and toilet paper weren’t consistent in bathrooms, and if my family did not openly discuss menstruation and could not afford products, I have no idea where I would have turned to get them. When I found out that my school system would start offering them for free following my graduation, I was thrilled. Even though accessing pads and tampons was never an issue for me, knowing that they were available at school made a lot of sense to me. For a lot of people, school is where they spend the majority of their time from age 5-18+, so having the option to get free products there every month makes a lot of sense, especially because not having access can impede on learning. When I started attending college and making financial choices on my own, it became harder to justify spending so much money on pads and tampons monthly, and I opted to invest in a menstrual cup. In the state of Michigan, the tampon tax was recently repealed, which eliminates taxes on menstrual hygiene products, another step in the right direction towards making menstrual products more accessible and affordable. But what about what universities in Michigan, like U-M could do to alleviate period poverty?
If we’re comparing U-M to Big-10, or Ivy league schools in terms of providing free menstrual products, the University of Michigan is lagging behind. Ohio State and Michigan State, U-M’s biggest rivals, already piloted programs to provide free menstrual products. A common thread in what started/pushed these programs at other universities: student power. It’s not impossible for a university to reprioritize its funding, but it often takes a lot of pushing from students. How is this university for the “leaders and best” if we are failing to care for the health of people who menstruate?
There is already a lot of great student work happening at U-M to address menstrual inequity. Here at the Dot Org, beyond providing tangible products to the community, we conduct research and provide educational resources to not only reduce the stigma around menstruation, but also improve the amount of information available to people. Besides us at Dot Org, there is a pilot program headed by the university to provide free pads and tampons, Maize and Blue cupboard hands some out, and there is a coalition within CSG working with administration to make the pilot program a stronger, lasting reality. Groups like LEO, GEO, and OneU provide a framework for what strong organizing for collective liberation looks like, which is inspiring to see as an undergraduate, and makes me wonder what would happen if existing activist groups brought menstrual health into their activism.
At U-M and any other organization seeking to address menstrual equity, it is important to address period poverty as it relates to other social issues beyond sexism, such as racism, transphobia, ableism, and ecological destruction. Social justice around identity cannot be addressed in isolation. The university supplying products is a start but is meaningless without input from their target population. Buying healthy, sustainably, and ethically produced products is necessary, and prioritizing buying from black-owned and queer-owned is even more necessary when considering the interlocking systems of oppression that lead to period inequity. I recognize I sound really cynical, which I am a little bit, but mostly I just want the best and want to draw attention to what I see as a really important part of menstrual health. Lately, amidst the pandemic, the mutual aid groups that have grown in prominence in my home and in Ann Arbor have inspired me to look at menstrual inequity through a new lens. Maybe addressing the issue on campus isn’t up to the administration, rather it is in the hands of students to lift up each other, not through a hierarchical lens of charity, but through a shared lens of identifying the needs of one another and providing for each other. I’m optimistic that within my lifetime, the stigma around this topic will be reduced, and the health of entire communities can be improved.
 University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, University of Wisconsin-Madison
In March 2020, I wrote a brief blog post about how health inequities exacerbated by COVID-19 were also prevalent in the menstruating community. At that time, very little information was known about the virus and its biological implications so I used a sociological perspective to tackle this relationship. Now, almost a year later, I would again like to explore the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted menstruation, but with a biological lens. Although hygiene practices have since been established and first-generation vaccines are being distributed, there still remains a lot of uncertainty about the long-term and various effects of the virus. As the virus spread over the course of last year, patients openly shared their experiences and associated medical issues that arose with their infection. Hundreds of publications, both scientific and not, have explored the symptoms people associated with their COVID-19 experience. Dr. Maria Cohut wrote one such article on the MedicalNewsToday website discussing one of the lesser known bodily changes associated with COVID-19 infection: uncharacteristic menstrual cycle fluctuations.
Before diving into Dr. Cohut’s article, let’s begin with some general information about the average menstrual cycle* for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the whole process. A single menstrual cycle lasts 24-38 days during which a reproductive-aged person’s body prepares for a possible pregnancy. The first 1-7 days are marked by bleeding, which is when the uterine lining sheds after the body experiences a drop in hormones after the corpus luteum, which would otherwise support a developing fetus, is expelled from the body. The remainder of the cycle consists of the follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases, all of which are categorized by different hormone fluctuations and bodily changes to prepare for zygote implantation. Now, let’s focus on the beginning portion of the menstrual cycle, famously known as a period. In addition to a week of light to heavy bleeding, menstruators often exhibit a slew of premenstrual symptoms (PMS) including bloating, fatigue, increased appetite, cramps, mood changes, backaches, and headaches. Even for a standard, healthy individual, the menstrual cycle is subject to some irregularity depending on hormonal changes, stress, or other external factors. This is where COVID-19 comes into play. Again, the full extent of the virus’s biomedical influence is not known yet but Dr. Cohut looked at cases in which patients with long COVID-19** experienced previously uncited irregularities with their menstrual cycles. The interviews and Dr. Cohut’s analysis do not suggest a direct causation, but an intriguing correlation of the virus’s impacts on the menstruating body.
Throughout the article, Dr. Cohut lists several women*** who experienced late or missing periods, an unusual amount of heavy blood clots expelled from the body, and exacerbated PMS symptoms. Each of the interviewees described their cases as having been especially abnormal as they all noticed these changes after COVID-19 infection and often in conjunction with their persisting symptoms. One of the patients explains that these changes occurred in spite of her consistent birth control use**** for the past ten years. The combination of these issues can be incredibly frustrating and often interfere with a person’s quality of life. The people had to readjust their schedules to accommodate for new onsets of cramps and headaches while controlling vicious upper respiratory symptoms during their long recoveries.
Unfortunately, with COVID-19 and its associated troubles being so young in the scientific world, there are not many direct interventions for patients experiencing these menstrual complications. Dr. Cohut’s article brings up a relevant point about the research being done to understand COVID-19. Although this is the first pandemic the world has seen in a century, the impact of other viruses and illness on the menstrual cycle is not often studied. The menstruating population makes up a large portion of the world, so in retrospect, should these effects not be an important field of research? As I have mentioned in other posts, the menstrual cycle is a reflection of a person’s internal health, and with a disturbance like a viral infection, people should know to expect associated menstrual changes. Just as COVID-19 showed us that socioeconomic and access inequities continue to impact menstruators, the virus also shows how the periods are not exempt from the impact of a viral infection. As a virus modifies the body, it modifies the respective functions and states of normality associated with it. The scientific community should take this gap in knowledge as a lesson to expand the biomedical research about how sickness may lead to menstrual and hormonal changes. In doing so, the menstrual community would not have to search for answers to determine whether the disruptions to their normal cycles are a part of the viral course or a sign of greater issues.
*Menstrual cycles and the idea of an “average menstrual cycle” differ between individuals and their circumstances. Information used in this context directly came from the Better Health Channel website linked above.
** Long COVID-19 is the term given to patients who experience COVID-19 associated symptoms for longer than the common 2-week period of active symptoms.
*** Only women were interviewed in this article. This does not mean people who do not identify as women cannot also menstruate or are not subject to the same complications as described in the article or in this blog post.
**** Birth control, depending on the type, often regulates the menstrual cycle and can help decrease PMS symptoms and heavy bleeding during periods
The academic semester at the University of Michigan has officially come to a close which means it is time to reflect on the past five months, in addition to the past year. It seemed that every time I turned on the television or logged onto a social media platform, there was only bad news to be reported. This is not to say that there were not any positive moments in 2020, but it was challenging to see the silver lining among the intersecting issues the world encountered during this year. However, I want to end the start of this new decade on a positive note specifically for the international menstruating community: Scotland passed a bill in November 2020 to make all period products free and available for those who need them in public spaces (Lennon). This bill is a huge step forward in the constant battle for affordable and accessible menstrual products throughout the world. Based on Scotland’s history in championing these campaigns, it is no surprise they were the first to enact such legislation. In 2018, Scotland was also the first country to provide period products in all schools, colleges, and universities completely free of charge (Wamsley). Scotland’s leaders demonstrate a definitive understanding of the urgency behind period poverty campaigns. However, as with any legislation, there will be a significant financial cost attached to the bill, which is estimated to total about ￡8.7 million by 2022 (Picheta). This amount is subject to fluctuate depending on the success of the program, quantity of products bought, and overall distribution plan. ￡8.7 million is no small cost but Scotland is showing the rest of the world that they are not afraid to put their citizens’ needs ahead of financial barriers. Lawmakers heard the requests of their communities and diligently worked to respond. The investment Scotland is making in their menstruating population will significantly benefit people who experience period poverty by removing the expenses that pads and tampons bring about during each menstrual cycle. After reading a few articles about the landmark bill, I became very excited at the influence Scotland could have on other countries with the means to enact similar legislation, such as the United States.
In 2018, the average box of tampons in the United States cost $5.99 (Ridder). For the following proposed model, assume the person being analyzed began menstruating at the age of twelve, has consistent periods each month, and they buy the same box of tampons every month from the same store. They are now twenty-two years old and over the course of a decade, this person has spent a total of $718.80 just on tampons. Now imagine this rough estimate multiplied by the number of total menstruators in the United States and keep in mind that the math in this scenario only accounts for ten years of periods, whereas most people stop menstruating in their mid-forties as they approach menopause (Office of Women’s Health). The summation of this cost is tremendous and will most likely only increase as prices with the prices of goods.
Initiating a similar bill to Scotland’s in the United States would help reduce American period poverty and decrease the overall stigma of openly carrying period products to the bathroom. For decades periods have been made out to be a source of embarrassment and something that people should hide. Limited access and long-term costs of products only add to the shame many menstruators experience. If the United States government showed an initiative in procuring a bill to provide period products in public buildings and education institutions, American menstruators would feel more supported by their leaders instead of abandoned. Especially for people who already struggle to put food on the table and pay their bills, not having to worry about purchasing period products would relieve them of an expensive necessity.
Although Scotland does not have as large of a population as the United States, numbers should not be the sole argument against promoting and passing legislation for making period products accessible throughout the United States. The overall cost of this type of bill should not be viewed as a burden on the government or tax payers but as an investment. The rest of the developed world should follow the Scottish parliament’s example in making a federal effort to treat menstruation as a public health issue that can be improved with the correct allocation of resources and attention. Menstruators have long fought for their needs to be heard and with Scotland paving the way for how to bring about such change it is important that other countries follow in their footsteps to diminish period inequalities.
Hey everyone, TDO has a very exciting update about a project we worked on over the past couple of months! Throughout September and October, The Dot Org partnered with Organicup (https://www.organicup.com), a menstrual cup company based in Copenhagen, to give menstruators across the University of Michigan campus access to try menstrual cups as a part of the Campus Cup 2020 initiative. With the pandemic still raging, we were super excited at the opportunity to get involved on campus again. TDO strives to reduce the stigma of menstruation as well as increase accessibility to menstrual products and we felt this was a perfect way to do so. Since we could not hold informational meetings or post physical flyers around campus, we turned to social media as being our main communication outlet. Our Eboard diligently worked to reach as many different populations as possible through Facebook groups and Instagram reposts. Our amazing Social Media Director (shoutout to Jenna) made some beautiful graphics for us to post as well. In mid-September we spent an entire week promoting TDOxOrganiCup and people who were interested in receiving a menstrual cup could easily sign up to do so. After our promotional week finished and the cups arrived, TDO planned a safe, socially-distanced menstrual cup pickup at The Diag. It was so much fun to meet some new faces during our pick-up event and also spread the word about The Dot! After all of our efforts, TDO passed out 494 menstrual cups completely free of charge to those who signed up. According to Organicup’s research, these 494 students using their cups would result in 260.832 pads/tampons saved, and therefore, much less environmental waste (wow!). We received so much positive feedback from people who participated in TDOxOrganicup and we were beyond excited to hear their reviews. This collaboration could not have been a success without everyone spreading the word and participating, so I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite comments below:
“Thank you so much for doing this! The opportunity to get a free organicup really inspired me to finally make the switch from tampons to a menstrual cup. It’s cool to think about how many people will now be using a more sustainable, eco-friendly period product because of this!”
“Thank you so much! Was such a powerful and moving campaign.”
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity because I always held off on buying a menstrual cup because of price!”
Partnering with Organicup definitely helped give us at The Dot the little push we needed to creatively fulfill our mission in light of the isolating times we are all experiencing. This event added a some normality to our lives and even allowed us to safely leave our homes for a little bit and focus on TDO’s impact on campus. For pictures and details about TDOxOrganicup, check out our Instagram (@thedotorg), like us on Facebook (@TheDot), and stay tuned for more exciting projects to come!