The Lawrence University Environmental Organization is introducing a sustainable menstruation project in collaboration with the Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SAASHA), the Lawrence University Disability Working Group (LUDWiG), the Diversity and Intercultural Center (D&IC) and the Lawrence Food Pantry.
According to junior Lauren Kelly, the president of the LU Environmental Organization, SAASHA will be educating students on period poverty and how to use these products. Kelly also explained that LUDWiG helped make sure the project will be as accessible as possible by suggesting the D&IC as a pick-up location and an option for delivery. As there can be stigmas associated with periods, Kelly emphasized that they are not promoting shame and selected safe locations for pick-ups.
To gauge student interest in sustainable menstruation products, a survey was posted on the Lawrence University Shoutbox Facebook page, included in the LU Insider and sent in an email from LUCC President Kelsi Bryant, Kelly stated. Although the survey was due on May 12, Kelly said students may still receive a product if they didn’t complete the survey. As of May 11, they had received 200 responses. Kelly further stated that they will continue to promote the products and send out another survey to see if any students would like the products delivered to their rooms or SPCs. Additionally, they plan to distribute the products through tabling at Warch Campus Center with SAASHA and LUDWiG, but the date is still to be determined.
Kelly explained that she had considered starting a sustainable menstruation project at Lawrence after she discovered reusable pads. She stated that since disposable pads and tampons produce a lot of waste and can be very expensive, the LU Environmental Organization liked the idea of providing students with reusable alternatives.
As a result, they will be giving away approximately 108 cups and 620 reusable pads., as of May 12. According to Kelly, the cups will be purchased from OrganiCup, and the reusable pads will be purchased from Teamoy. According to OrganiCup’s website, the cups come in three sizes: size mini, size A and size B. Reusable pads must be washed in between use.
Additionally, Kelly said that these free sustainable menstruation products will be available to any Lawrence student who menstruates. They will be available for pick-up primarily in the D&IC and the Food Pantry. They will not be placed in the bathrooms because users must boil the cups before use, and the reusable pads must be washed, said Kelly.
To fund the project for Spring Term, Kelly worked with Sustainability and Special Projects Fellow and staff advisor for the project Grace Subat. In order to obtain funding from the Student Sustainability Fund, Kelly filled out an application on the Lawrence website, which was submitted to the Sustainability Steering Committee for consideration. According to Subat, the committee liked the project idea and approved it for funding.
In April, Subat communicated with the sustainability director at Macalester College, who has experience with OrganiCup’s programs, and shared this information with Subat. Because Subat understood the processes involved at Macalester and the processes at Lawrence, she was able to help Kelly and the LU Environmental Organization get the project funded. Subat was also responsible for communicating with vendors and ordering the products.
This year, the funding for the products came from the Student Sustainability Fund. However, Subat and Kelly are looking at the “Campus Cup” program provided by OrganiCup starting Fall Term 2021. According to the OrganiCup website, the Campus Cup program allows universities to partner with OrganiCup and receive free menstrual cups for their students.
Kelly concluded by saying that information about how to use these products will be posted in the near future.