#ENVIRONMENSTRUALWEEK

Founded by Women’s Environmental Network, #environmenstrualweek is an annual week of action from the 19th-25th of October to put the spotlight on periods. 

Menstrual products are a significant source of waste in Europe – generating around 590,000 tonnes of waste annually – and there is work to be done to make eco-friendly, toxic free and plastic free products readily available for menstruators.

This week, we want to amplify and magnify the work happening all across Europe and beyond. Whether it’s raising awareness, breaking the taboo, skilling up educators, demanding action from producers and suppliers, or asking for policy change at the national and European level… we need to start talking about periods, and start taking action to build a better world!

Take Action

There are loads of easy ways to get involved in #environmentstrualweek whether you menstruate or not:

USE YOUR VOICE: use our social media toolkit to amplify key messages and take part in the period proud challenge

GET EMPOWERED: tune in to all the various events happening across Europe to educate and inform on the topic of menstrual products. 

FIND YOUR PERIOD PEOPLE: see our list of active member organisations taking part in #environmenstrualweek to tune in to online events and join campaigns in your language.

MAKE THE SWITCH: If you can, commit to making the switch to toxic-free, plastic-free, and zero waste period products, and share your story with the hashtag #environmenstrualweek.

ENVIRONMENSTRUAL WEEK HERSTORY
In 2018, the first ever Environmenstrual Week was launched by Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) in the UK. Environmenstrual Week is a week of action dedicated to advocating for healthy, eco-friendly menstrual products for everybody. It’s a week dedicated to helping all people who menstruate feel empowered to make an informed choice about which menstrual products to use. With the purpose of tackling period plastic and harmful chemicals, the menstrual taboo, and increasing access to plastic-free and reusable menstrual products, Environmenstrual Week has grown into a movement that is 3 years strong!

The Environmenstrual Week movement has become a force to be reckoned with. Each year, Wen releases an action toolkit which is shared widely with their Environmenstrual Coalition partners, supporters and the general public. The toolkit includes loads of ideas on how to take action – from activities like making your own pad, hosting a period quiz, lobbying manufacturers, or raising awareness about period poverty with your local government officials. It is filled with lots of powerful posts and images to raise awareness about the environmental and health impacts of conventional period products. The toolkit provides people with the tools and resources to make a difference about #plasticfreeperiods in their communities.

As Environmenstrual Week comes into its third year of action, it has become clear that access to sustainable period products is not only a health and environmental issue, it’s a social justice issue. The fact that the cheapest menstrual product options are often those with the most potential to damage our health and planet makes this a social and environmental justice issue. It means people with the least power have the greatest exposure to dangerous products. That’s why Environmenstrual Week is also about fighting for period parity.

All of this and more is why Wen are motivated to get the Environmenstrual Week message out even further bringing it to a European audience in 2020 with the help of our brilliant partners at #breakfreefromplastic!

More information on the origins of #environmenstrual week: 

SINGLE-USE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS & THE ENVIRONMENT

For many menstruators, the environmental impacts of menstrual products probably do not come as a surprise – we see the realities of the waste problem every month. Yet, these products have been overlooked in legislation and could play a key role in tackling our waste problem. 

Single-use menstrual products create serious environmental impacts throughout their lifecycle – from production to end-of-life. In the 28 EU Member States in 2017, research found that: more than 49 billion menstrual products were consumed, resulting in an annual generation of around 590,000 tonnes of waste from these products alone. Worse still, typically 87% of these products then end up in landfills, while 13% are incinerated – creating knock on impacts for the climate and our environment. 

However, this is only where products are properly disposed of. The other challenge with menstrual products is where they are flushed down the toilet, and end up in our oceans and water systems creating economic and environmental consequences. Single-use menstrual products are the fifth most commonly found item found on European beaches.

One of the stand-out benefits to switching to reusable menstrual products is the reduction of waste generated. If only 20% of menstruators in the EU switch to reusable products, the amount of waste could be reduced by 100,000 tonnes per year!

More information on periods and the environment: 

Policy recommendations to make menstrual products, nappies and wet wipes circular
Existing measures & policy recommendations to minimise the impact of menstrual products, nappies & wet wipes
The environmental & economic costs of single-use menstrual products, baby nappies & wet wipes
Applicators Unwrapped: the problem with plant-based plastic applicators

Menstrual Products: the choices

Plastic Free Periods FAQ

SINGLE-USE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS & THEIR ECONOMIC COSTS

From the amount of waste generated by these products one can already imagine how much it would cost for public administrators and consumers themselves to manage them in public sewer systems, treatment and clean-ups. First of all, collection costs related to this waste stream in Europe may be significant, varying from €1 per inhabitant per year in some regions of Greece and Italy, to almost €10 in Ireland.

In addition, there are costs resulting from the incineration and landfill of such waste. The total typical charge to landfill of one tonne of municipal waste in the EU (the tax, plus the middle of the range of gate fees) ranges from €17.50 in Lithuania to up to €155.50 in Sweden. The total typical charge for incineration (tax plus the middle of the range of gate fees) for one tonne of municipal waste in the EU ranges from €46 in Czech Republic to €174 in Germany

But the public costs associated with these items do not stop there. There is also the marine litter costs, including the costs of: (i) cleaning up the beaches, (ii) the obstruction of the engines, (iii) costs of hospitalisation due to the impact on human health, (iv) income losses in the fishing industry due to a reduction in the population of fish or its own pollution, (v) loss of income in the tourism sector, as well as the (vi) economic costs associated with welfare: impacts on human health, loss of aesthetic and cultural values, etc.

It is estimated that the maintenance and unblocking of these facilities, together with the waste disposal of sewage debris removed in wastewater treatment plants costs the European Union between €500 – €1,000 million per year. This cost is passed on to all consumers through water bills regardless of whether they use these products or not. 

More information on periods & economic costs: 

The environmental & economic costs of single-use menstrual products, baby nappies & wet wipes 
Break the barriers: girls’ experiences of menstruation in the UK
Menstrual Products: the choices

SINGLE-USE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS & OUR HEALTH
Currently, single-use menstrual products are dominating the market. Not only do they create problems when disposed of, but they are impacting our health too.

Period pads can contain up to 90% plastic, and tampons have plastic in them too, both in the string and their applicators. It goes without saying that our world has far too much plastic in it, but we certainly don’t need it in our bodies too!

Yet, plastics aren’t the only unwanted toxics in period products. Many single-use menstrual products and their packaging contain synthetic materials like rayon, adhesives, artificial fragrances and toxic chemicals such as phthalates, bisphenol-A and petrochemical additives, which are recognised environmental pollutants and are known to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to diseases, such as heart disease, infertility and cancer.

We need to ensure that all menstrual products are toxic and plastic free, and that the very best products are readily available on the market at an affordable and accessible price.


➡ Switching to reusable products means
taking control of what goes into our bodies, protecting us from potentially dangerous chemicals, and helping remove them from the environment too.

More information on periods & health: 

MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

We cannot talk about periods without talking about the societal structures and systems that perpetuate a taboo around menstruation. Despite periods being 100% natural, 100% powerful, and 100% the agency of the menstruator – our male-dominated society has had a lot to do with the way we hide, disguise and try to cover-up periods.

This week we want to be clear that all menstruators are their own agents, free to make their own choices about their bodies, their purchasing power, and their periods! We need to build a movement of empowered menstruators who feel educated and confident when making decisions about their periods – and this should be matched with policies that support wider access to products and education in schools.

Similarly, there is work to be done to make period products accessible for menstruators. Still today nearly one in five women struggle to pay for basic single-use menstrual products on a monthly basis in the EU and this has to change. We want to see financial support from governments to ensure that period products are not taxed, are fair, and that free products are accessible to those in need.

➡ An important benefit of reusable menstrual products are the long-term economic savings. Using a reusable menstrual product could generate annual savings of between €18 to €199 per person, with lifetime savings that could exceed €4,400.

More information on periods & socioeconomic costs: 

The environmental & economic costs of single-use menstrual products, baby nappies & wet wipes
WEN Environmenstrual Toolkit 
Break the barriers: girls’ experiences of menstruation in the UK

Our Ask

We need the EU to take the lead on supporting and empowering menstruators to be their own agents – by setting up the policy framework – so they can feel educated, confident and free to make their own choices about their bodies, their purchasing power, and their periods! 

This can be done with policy support that guarantees: 

🩸  a European wide reuse target of 30% by 2030, to be increased to 60% by 2040 for menstrual products, combined with a separate collection target for recycling of the remaining single-use menstrual items of 40% by 2025, 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040;

🩸 period education programs in schools, so that menstruators can make informed choices about their period and body, including understanding all kinds of menstrual products and their associated impacts (i.e: single-use) as well as their benefits (i.e: reusables) and how to use and dispose of them properly;

🩸 widespread availability of toxic-free and reusable menstrual products in particular in large retailer outlets and pharmacies across the EU (at least in the same proportion to single-use items), accompanied with awareness raising measures on the benefits of reusables compared to single-use menstrual products;

🩸 economic incentives for reusable menstrual products to overcome barriers to entry (i.e: discounts for reusables and/or levies for single-use products); as well as strong encouragement for Member States to reduce or eliminate taxes on reusable menstrual products;

🩸 a legal obligation for manufacturers of menstrual products to phase-out hazardous chemicals and eliminate the use of toxins in their products, as well as to disclose the ingredients’ list of their products; and

🩸 that free products be made accessible to those in need.

By taking these measures the EU can help change current consumption patterns by moving away from disposability, addressing the environmental, health and economic impacts related to single-use menstrual products all together, and help fight menstrual poverty and inequality, while empowering half of its population and being a champion of women’s issues.

Social Media Toolkit

Hashtags

#environmenstrualweek 

#breakfreefromplastic   |   #PeriodParity   |   #PlasticFreePeriods   |   #ToxicFreePeriods

GROUPS TO TAG

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

#breakfreefromplastic

@brkfreeplastic

@breakfreefromplastic

@breakfreefromplastic

Wen

@Wen_UK

@WEN.UK1988

@wen_uk

Zero Waste Europe

@zerowasteeurope
@ZeroWasteEurope

/

City to Sea

@CitytoSea_

@citytosea

@citytosea_

Friends of the Earth Scotland

@FoEScot

 

@foescotland

 

/

Hej Support

@HEJ_Support

/

/

Mission Reuse

@missionreuse

/

@missionreuse

Plastic Soup Foundation

@plasticsoupfoun

@plasticsoupfoundationnl

@plasticsoupfoundation

Recycling Netwerk

@RecyclingNet

@recyclingnetwerkbenelux

/

Rezero

@rezerocat

@rezerocat

@rezerocat

VOICE Ireland

@VOICE_Ireland

@voiceireland.org

@voiceireland
@noplasticperiod

WECF

@WECF_INT

@WECF.INTERNATIONAL

@wecf_international

Zero

@ZEROasts

@ZEROasts

/

Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine

/

@zwau.ukraine

@zwaukraine

Zero Waste France

@ZeroWasteFR

@ZeroWasteFrance

@zerowastefr

Zero Waste Latvia

/

@zerowastelatvija

@zerowastelatvija

Zero Waste Montenegro

/

@zerowastemontenegro

@zero.waste.montenegro

Zoldovezet Egyesulet

@zoldovezet_t

@zoldovezettarsulas

@zoldovezet

GENERAL

TWITTER

Welcome to #environmenstrualweek 2020! 🤸

It’s time to switch to #toxicfree #reusables for the benefit of our planet & our health. Let’s get #PeriodProud & bust the taboo!

We’re ready to #breakfreefromplastic starting with #periods – are you @EU_Commission?
___

It’s #environmenstrualweek 2020!

Time to:
🩸 break the taboo
🩸 #breakfreefromplastic
🩸 and break up with #toxic, #singleuse products

Let’s get #PeriodProud!

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/

FACEBOOK

Welcome to #environmenstrualweek 2020! 🤸

This week is all about busting the taboo and talking loud and proud about periods! It’s time to talk about getting affordable, reusable and toxic-free products in the mainstream and addressing period poverty to empower menstruators everywhere! 

We’re ready to @breakfreefromplastic starting with periods – are you?

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/
___

It’s #environmenstrualweek 2020!

Time to:
🩸 break the taboo
🩸 #breakfreefromplastic
🩸 and break up with toxic, single-use products

All across Europe groups are taking action with educational materials, webinars, podcasts, resources, facts and social media activity! Find out more: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/

INSTAGRAM

It’s #environmenstrualweek 2020! 🤸
.
This week is all about busting the taboo and talking loud and proud about periods! It’s time to talk about getting affordable, reusable and toxic-free products in the mainstream and addressing period poverty to empower menstruators everywhere! 
.
We’re ready to @breakfreefromplastic starting with periods – are you?
.
#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods #periodproud
___
It’s #environmenstrualweek 2020!
.
Time to:
🩸 break the taboo
🩸 #breakfreefromplastic
🩸 and break up with toxic, single-use products
.
All across Europe groups are taking action with educational materials, webinars, podcasts, resources, facts and social media activity! Find out more: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/
.
#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods #periodproud

ENVIRONMENTAL

TWITTER

Periods are powerful just like mother earth!

We can look after both by switching to #reusable, #toxicfree, #plasticfree products! But we need the @EU_Commission to help incentivise the shift!

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic
___
We can’t let our period products go to #waste!

We need the @EU_Commission to set:
🩸 #reuse targets 
🩸 separate collection targets for #recycling, and
🩸 binding requirements to phase out #toxic chemicals

👉 https://bit.ly/menstrualpolicy

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic

FACEBOOK

Periods are powerful just like mother earth!

We can look after both by switching to reusable, toxic free, plastic free products that protect our planet! But we need policy changes to help incentivise the shift! 👉 https://bit.ly/menstrualpolicy

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic
__
We can’t let our period products go to waste!

We need European wide:
🩸 reuse targets
🩸 separate collection targets for recycling
🩸 economic incentives for reusable menstrual products to overcome barriers to entry, and,
🩸 binding requirements to phase out toxic chemicals

👉 https://bit.ly/menstrualpolicy

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic

INSTAGRAM

Periods are powerful just like mother earth! We can protect both by switching to #reusable, #toxicfree, #plasticfree products! 
.
#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods
__
We can’t let our period pride go to waste! We need European wide: 
🩸 reuse targets 
🩸 separate collection targets for recycling 
🩸 economic incentives for reusable menstrual products to overcome barriers to entry, and,
🩸 binding requirements to phase out toxic chemicals. 
.
#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods

HEALTH

TWITTER

Mainstream period products are full of #toxic chemicals that our bodies don’t want or need!

We need the @EU_Commission to incentivise #affordable and #safe period products to tackle #PeriodParity and #waste!

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic

🩸 separate collection targets for #recycling, and

🩸 binding requirements to phase out #toxic chemicals

👉 https://bit.ly/menstrualpolicy

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic

FACEBOOK

Mainstream period products are full of toxic chemicals that our bodies don’t want or need!

We need European policies to incentivise affordable and safe period products to tackle period poverty and waste! 

#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic 

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/

INSTAGRAM

Mainstream period products are full of #toxic chemicals that are bodies don’t want or need! We need #affordable and #safe period products to tackle #PeriodParity and #waste!
.
#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods #periodproud
__
We’ve been lied to all our lives. Our #period is NOT dirty, and disposable period products do NOT smell like flowers, but rather toxins. Periods are 100% natural, 100% powerful, and 100% ours!  

Join us in the #environmenstrualweek and demand for #toxicfreeperiods!
.
#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #periodproud

 

PERIOD PARITY & EMPOWERMENT

TWITTER

We need #reusable, #toxicfree & #plasticfreeperiods for ALL!

🌎 The @EU_Commission must ensure widespread availability of toxic-free & reusable products in the EU market AND economic incentives for these products to overcome barriers to entry!! 🌍

#environmenstrualweek

FACEBOOK

We need reusable, toxic-free & plastic-free periods for ALL!

🌎 Which is why we are asking the EU to ensure the widespread availability of toxic-free & reusable products in the EU market AND economic incentives for these products to overcome barriers to entry! 🌍 

Join us: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/environmenstrual-week/

#environmenstrualweek

INSTAGRAM

We need reusable, toxic-free & plastic-free periods for ALL! 🌎 
.
Which is why we are asking the EU to ensure the widespread availability of toxic-free & reusable products in the EU market AND economic incentives for these products to overcome barriers to entry!
.
#environmenstrualweek #breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeperiods #periodparity #toxicfreeperiods

 

 

JOIN THE #PERIODPROUD MOVEMENT

In partnership with Women’s Environment Network we are launching the #PeriodProud Challenge to encourage people to be loud and proud about periods. It’s time to end the shame around periods which affects our choice of products, how we dispose of them as well as equal access to period products.

This challenge is open to all genders, menstruating or not menstruating.

To participate we would love you to: 

1. Accept the challenge

Each person that does the #PeriodProud Challenge has to nominate 1 or 2 people to join them. If you are nominated, you have 24 hours to complete the challenge! 

2. Take a photo

Take a photo of yourself showing your favourite period product out and proud. Do this in an unexpected place or in an unexpected pose! You will need your period product, camera and a social media account. 

*Ideas: You could hold your period product in your fav yoga position? Whilst climbing a tree? Whilst petting your dog? 

3. Share your photo to social media

Tag the people you are challenging and include the hashtag #PeriodProud, share the link (https://www.wen.org.uk/2008/09/14/periodproud/), and tag @wen_uk and @brkfreeplastic ! 

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