Close Up of A chandelier made of tampons, entitled “The Bride” and created by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Courtesy of www.theatlantic.com
No More Taboo – a non-profit social Enterprise which sells sustainable sanitary products – with the proceeds going to supporting women finding it difficult to manage their periods, like homeless women in Bristol as well as women in many developing countries where periods are a taboo in their societies. Founder Chloe Tingle, a fellow participant of School for Social Entrepreneurs was inspired by seeing the prejudice and misunderstanding women faced around menstruation during her travels. She is currently busy establishing a partner relationship in order to best support and empower women in Nepal, whether it be products, education, toilet and bathing facilities, or access to clean water.
She is currently running a crowdfunding campaign – do support her if you can!
A big deal about our usage of sanitary products is the wasteful effects. And I have to admit, even myself, the founder of LitterARTI and pretty waste aware… has taken a while to take the step to buy products which are sustainable – which in your head – of course you know it is the right thing – but emotionally you are blocked. Somehow you can’t move forward into action. What was missing was for me to acknowledge my own taboo. The shame, fear and gosh endless embarrassing memories still crystal clear in my mind. I won’t lay myself bare… and spare you the details. There is a place and a space for that at the Period Party coming up this Saturday, 28th May in Bristol. But by avoiding these – I was physically held back from making the right choices with regards to what I consciously knew I wanted to do.
I see a lot of parallels between this campaign and our own acceptance of our shameful past. Our denial of what has been wrong before, not being able to accept climate change, and importantly not being able to act. We also need safe spaces to talk about this. We need to acknowledge our part in it, and then only will we be able to act. I do think what is holding us back is in so many cases an un-acknowledged sense of despair, shame, guilt! oh guilt is a great one. These emotions do not allow for flow. These emotions do not allow for creativity, for compassion, love, they keep us in bondage.
One thing I think that we tend to forget as campaigners for the green movement – we also had to wake up from our old ways. We had to get to a point where we realised something was wrong. We had to acknowledge the emotions and feelings and fears that came with that and made a choice to make a commitment to change. From then on you are different. You have moved out of the old ways, you are reborn. We all come from within this system and honestly Britain has the largest footprint of them all – we started the Industrial Revolution. This is our problem. And we need to fix it.
To finish off I would like to say: Similar to the Greeny culture around sustainable sanitary products for women – a friend of mine felt rather excluded by her fellow city farm dwellers for not using the mooncup! The same way – accessing the issues around sustainability is still greenwashed – and this is so much part of the reason why progress around acceptance and take up and mobilisation by the public around environmental issues is so damn slow.
Also the fortunate position we are in to be able to work in this field. How grateful am I, that I can spend my energy on understanding and communicating and exploring new solutions to these challenges we are facing. Even though making a living as a heart as a passion driven social entrepreneur, is challenging financially and emotionally. I am not impoverished.
But I know I have some back up, be it a friend, family member, a credit card, or the fallback into my old career in the digital sector, an education, a history and memory of having had a regular income, nice clothes, all that stuff. I needed to have had some first, before I could say no more. I needed to taste the cake, to devour the cake when I could, before I could make a decision that the cake is not really what I needed. I was actually starved by eating the cake. Yet. Our society is still telling us to eat the cake and in honesty, I can not say to someone who has seen others enjoy this cake, who is also striving for this cake to not have it, whether it be someone from the developing world, or someone from a deprived area of Bristol. They need to have the right to taste it first, the freedom to have a bite of the capitalist dream which is rammed down our throats by popular media and the lot.
And that is what I am working towards. Being part of this movement where we are working towards an alternative. Towards equality.