Hannah Michelle Bussa
UNO’s Women and Gender Equity Center (WGEC), SustainUNO and the Office of Sustainability hosted a Period Day event on Oct. 11.
Zee Elmer, a senior studying environmental Earth sciences and sustainability, was part of the event with SustainUNO.
“World Period Day started in 2019 to raise awareness to the necessity of access to menstrual products and proper menstrual hygiene,” they said. “Access to period care products is a right, yet they are treated as luxury items by retailers. Period poverty, or the lack of access to menstrual products, proper hygiene, waste management and education, affects around 500 million people worldwide.”
She said the event focused on raising awareness of the need for access to sustainable menstrual products and to expand funding for the WGEC to provide these products to students.
“Sustainable menstrual products eliminate insecurity about access to these products and save students money,” she said.
Annika Kuchar, co-director of the WGEC, is a senior biology major with minors in women’s and gender studies and medical humanities. She said period day is a way to celebrate the bodies of those who menstruate.
“Menstruation is something that can be taboo and uncomfortable to talk about, but it is important because those who do menstruate have to experience it regardless,” she said. “Educating other people about what menstruation means and increasing access to menstrual products is essential in making these conversations more normal.”
Kuchar said providing free sustainable menstrual products to students on campus helps lower financial barriers as well as lower rates of menstrual products in the landfill.
Zoe Miller, board member of the WGEC and second year public health major at UNO, said raising awareness about period products and sustainable menstrual products can help people learn about how to access these products.
“Sustainable menstrual products need to be offered and accessible because they reduce costs, waste, infections and provide security to people who menstruate,” she said.
Joey Gruber, WGEC board member and Program Developer for the Office of Sustainability, is a fourth year double major in IT Innovation and Communication Studies. She said the WGEC collects donations to expand UNO students’ access to sustainable products, like reusable pads, reusable underwear and menstrual cups.
“These products can cost between $30-$70 dollars, so we want all students who menstruate to have access to affirming products without the barrier of cost,” she said.
Kuchar said these sustainable menstrual products are free for UNO students.
“The WGEC can provide you with one free menstrual cup, and one set of reusable pads,” she said. “This is a great way for you to try out these products without having to bear the financial burden.”
She said part of the initiative is to get more people comfortable talking about periods, since they are taboo to talk about.
“I promise you that someone important in your life menstruates, so taking the time to understand where they are coming from will mean the world to them,” she said.
Elmer said reusable, sustainable products can last for years when properly cared for, which cuts back on waste and cost.
“Using the sustainable period product that fits your needs and lifestyle is the best choice any person can make,” they said. “The average person who menstruates for 40 years will use 9,600 pads, tampons and pantyliners (or more). With a lifespan of 2-5 years when properly cared for, sustainable menstrual products reduce a lot of outgoing waste.”
They said it also saves money and reduces period poverty and product insecurity.
“A menstrual cup is usually between $30-$40,” she said. “While that may sound like a lot up front, if you use that cup for 4 years, you are saving hundreds of dollars over its lifetime.”
Elmer said students can reach out to the WGEC for sustainable menstrual products.
“If students want to ensure continued access to these products, they should consider writing testimony to UNO Student Government in support of expanding the WGEC’s budget to accommodate the cost of providing every student who menstruates with reusable period products,” they said.
To submit an online testimony about experiences with sustainable menstrual products, fill out this form.