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Period plastic
courtesy of Ella Daish via Instagram/@ecoelleuk

Campaigners demand government provide students plastic-free period products

TextAlex Peters

Charities and brands including DAME are asking the government to make sure free sanitary products at schools are sustainable

Earlier this year the UK government announced its intention to provide all English secondary schools with free sanitary products by September 2019 (Scotland already implemented a similar policy last August). The announcement came after concerns were raised that girls were missing school because they were unable to afford sanitary products and campaigns such as Amika George’s #FreePeriods put pressure on 10 Downing Street.

However, there are many who feel that the government is not going far enough with the scheme. Today, a coalition of charities and sustainable British menstruation brands have joined forces to demand that these free period products are plastic-free. 

In an open letter to the Department of Education, brands such as DAME and charities including Bloody Good Period have called on the government to provide schools with sustainable options when it comes to sanitary products. “We believe young people shouldn’t have to choose between their own comfort and the environment,” the letter states. “For the first time, you can help an entire generation have better periods.”

In the letter, the group points to the government’s recent challenge to schools to go plastic free by 2022 and research showing that period products are a serious contributor to plastic pollution, to support their call. Plastic period products are the fifth most common waste washed up on beaches and the coalition predict that if the government fails to provide plastic-free period products to schools, the equivalent of 90 million plastic bags will be thrown away by pupils annually.

“When we heard that the government were going to provide free period products and that one of the market leaders (also responsible for huge amounts of period plastic pollution) were on their advisory board we saw a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo and improve periods and period products for an entire generation,” says DAME. “We called our friends in the period space and asked if they wanted to take a stand.”

In light of the UK government officially declaring a climate emergency in April, not providing sustainable menstruation product options seems highly irresponsible and a real missed opportunity to cut down on plastic waste. As it states in the letter, we owe this to our children and the planet.

If you want to do your part to help to cause, the coalition is urging everyone to sign this petition.

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