A Zero Waste Scotland campaign aimed at tackling the 427 million single-use period products disposed of nationally every year has been ‘overwhelmingly’ well received, with more than nine out of ten survey respondents switching to reusable products as a result.
With funding from Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund, #TrialPeriod aimed to shine a spotlight on the variety of sustainable options and demonstrate that reusable alternatives can be just as convenient and comfortable. As part of the campaign, over 2000 menstrual cups and cloth pads were distributed for free.
The results of the trial show 42% of those who tried the products are now only using reusables for their period and a further 49% are using reusables in conjunction with disposables (depending on circumstances).
The results of the campaign survey have been released to coincide with World Menstrual Hygiene Day (28th May).
Of those to try the products, 85% rated reusables as great or excellent. Feedback also revealed 53% of people selected the most similar reusable option to the disposable product they regularly used.
Reusable menstrual products benefit the environment by removing the need for single-use items. Disposable menstrual products are a significant cause of marine litter and can also end up in landfill. Disposables are primarily made of plastic and other synthetic materials, which take around 500 years to break down.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities Aileen Campbell said: “As we work to combat the global climate emergency it is vital that we consider the environmental impact of single use period products and encourage people to consider alternatives.
“The Scottish Government has, from the outset, encouraged the provision of reusable period products as part of our commitment to make period products available for free, including in places of learning and the wider community. I am delighted that the #TrialPeriod campaign has been so successful.”
Catherine Bozec, #TrialPeriod campaign manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and shows that a comfortable, reusable alternative to disposables is the preferred choice for most who tried them.
“The average woman will dispose of an estimated 11,000 period products in her lifetime, and we hope the Trial Period campaign is a start in addressing this number and reducing our impact on the environment. By switching to reusable period products, women can save money, resources and the environment.”
In a question about their reasons for taking part, a total of 66% of respondents stated curiosity about reusable products with environmental reasons being selected by 59%.
The #TrialPeriod campaign was launched in November 2019 with Scottish dancers, Sarah Gibson and Kara Hudson, and encouraged Scots to try reusable options. More than 2300 reusable products from Hey Girls were given away.
It is estimated that more than 340,000 tampons and pantyliners are flushed down the toilet each day in Scotland.
Research carried out by Zero Waste Scotland prior to the campaign indicated that a promising 10% of women in Scotland were using reusable products and a further 76% said they would consider trialling at least one reusable alternative – the menstrual cup, period-proof pants or washable cloth pads.
Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls, said: “It was great to see such enthusiasm from the public to move towards a more sustainable period, and fantastic to hear so many are continuing to use reusable products.
“Often the barrier to switching to reusables is fear of the unknown, but actually it’s much more simple to manage than people may think. Hopefully this campaign encouraged people to change their habits for the better.”
Catherine added: “We realise these products may not suit everyone and some will opt for a mix of reusable and disposable options to best suit their lifestyle needs. We would urge everyone never to flush the products down the toilet as that increases the risk that they will end up in our oceans.”