7 Environmental Changes You Can Make

If you have already made the switch to The DivaCup, you may have made it for any variety of reasons. Maybe you were excited about the cost-savings or the 12 hours of leak-free protection, or maybe (like many of us) you found disposables bulky and uncomfortable and knew that there had to be a better way. Whatever your reasoning may have been, many of our Divas really start to notice the big environmental changes they are making by ditching the disposables. It is one small change, but it makes a HUGE difference. Here is a list of other changes you can make in your life that help reduce your environmental footprint. Though it may not feel realistic to tackle them all just yet, even doing one or two of them can make a positive change.

1) Buy Vintage and Donate!
When it’s time to pick out some clothes or a cute outfit for an event, why not make the stylish and eco-friendly choice of buying vintage. Buying vintage is definitely the most stylish form of recycling! When you purchase something vintage, you are saving money, reducing the eco-footprint, and resources used up in new clothes production, processing and shipping. You also have a much better chance of finding a one-of-a-kind outfit that can really showcase your personal style. When you are done with clothes, be sure to donate them (or trade or sell them)! Someone will love your old treasures just as much as you did!

2) Go Bagless
So replacing plastic bags has definitely become a thing in various parts of the world where it is encouraged to bring and use reusable bags for purchases (like groceries), but why not take it a step further? Even though many of us may use reusable bags for our groceries, we still often grab the thin plastic produce bags, or perhaps small bags for bulk items, but did you know there are reusable options for all of these? It’s true. There are reusable produce bags made from materials like canvas, muslin, or mesh and you can use reusable containers in lieu of snack bags! Many bulk stores will also allow you to bring your own containers instead of using bags.

3) Replace your commute with a greener option
There are many green options for getting to work or school. If you are a commuter, with a long daily drive to the office, why not try looking into carpooling, the train, or busing? Long drives can be painful, boring, and tiring as well as come at a horrendous cost environmentally and to your wallet with the ever-climbing prices for gas. For many of us buying an electric car, or a hybrid, isn’t realistic. Sharing the ride can be a lot more social and environmental as can forgoing the car completely for some form of public transport. If you live close to work/school, you might enjoy walking, biking or skateboarding to get you there and back.

4) Reduce Chemical Use
When cleaning the house, your clothes, or even yourself, there are many options available naturally or commercially that help reduce the use of harmful chemicals. This is both healthier for you as well as better for the environment. As the cleaners we use wash down the drain and are flushed down the toilets, they can enter our waterways which can affect the quality of drinking water as well as compromise aquatic ecosystems. Other cleansers can contaminate our air quality and contribute to greenhouse gases. For these reasons it is important to read the label and be cognizant of what you are using to clean yourself and your surroundings. There are also many natural options for cleaning, such as vinegar, lemon, baking soda etc. There are a ton of articles online that can give you some tips to get started! Remember, DivaWash is a great option as a body wash and face wash… and guess what? It is 100% plant based!

5) Buy local
Buying local fruits and veggies is a great option for so many reasons! Not only are you supporting local farms, and the local economy but this deliciously green alternative has some amazing environmental benefits. By buying local produce, you are also cutting down on the fuel used in transporting, processing, and packaging the produce. This added to the fact that local product can ripen naturally rather than on a truck, boat, or plane, means that your food will taste better as well.

6) Replace paper products
If you ever break it down and think about how much paper products you might use, it can honestly be a little be daunting, but there are a ton of greener options that can replace these. Paper towels may make life easier sometimes, but a reusable microfiber cloth can replace most of these instances (and they work better), writing notes and shopping lists on a piece of paper can similarly be replaced with keeping them on your phone, or tablet (if you have one), even napkins at the dinner table can be replaced with reusable cloths which will elevate your entertaining and feel much nicer as well. Try reducing your paper use and make sure to recycle or compost (in the case of paper towel and tissue use) what you do use.

7) Ditch the Disposables
Did you know that close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped in North American landfills each and every year? If you are already one of our Divas then you know how good it feels to not have to worry about disposing (or purchasing!) pads and tampons by using The DivaCup. If you are still sitting on the fence about making the switch, then this may be the day to remember how much you will be reducing your eco-footprint and how much waste you will be diverting from landfills by switching to a reusable period care option!

Take a hike!

“Walking: the most ancient and still the best modern exercise.” – Carrie Latet

Hiking is an amazing past time that so few individuals embrace. It’s almost as if that love we had for traipsing around outside when we were kids is lost in our adult lives. That need to explore nature seems to change in to a need to work, study and just generally adult. Not as much fun, right? Well, as a college student who works, lives on her own and attends full-time courses, my life didn’t involve much nature. But, there was one thing it did involve a lot of: stress. Stress is the biggest struggle in my life, and I think it’s the same for many others. I had tried many ways to handle stress — from yoga and meditation to exercise and diet changes — but the problem was, I could never find the time to do everything in a week. I didn’t have time to take both a yoga and HIIT class and fit in a meditation session as well. I was trying all these different things, and they do work, but they were not becoming a consistent part of my life like I wanted. The solution came to me from my roommate, who is a personal trainer. She recommended that I try hiking! She explained to me that the outdoor exercise from hiking up and down hills is often a better exercise than gym cardio training. This got me doing a bit more research on the concept and I realized just how many benefits to hiking there are! I decided to give it a try and over the last month, I have made it my goal to go for a hike at lease once a week. Here is what I learned:

You will feel happier
Hiking is a great way to deal with stress and to forget about your worries as you focus on what’s around you and the end goal of completing the trail. I found that hiking once a week helped me with my stress and depression as it took me away from daily distractions and technology and allowed me to connect with myself and nature. It’s a combination of meditation and exercise that leaves me happy and at peace.

You will enjoy nature
Being in nature gives us the opportunity to explore, be adventurous and feel free. In our everyday lives, there is so much that is controlled and scheduled. I found that taking the time to appreciate nature and explore it can have amazing benefits on your outlook on life.

You will get exercise
Hiking is an excellent form of exercise as you tromp along the trails, up and down hills and over uneven ground. You burn a high number of calories and build muscle as you go along. After an hour hike I feel limber and refreshed. Another great benefit is the decrease of blood pressure and cholesterol.

You will boost your creativity
Hiking is a great way to boost your creativity. Often halfway through a work day I would get a French vanilla to try and keep myself alert and focused. Instead of doing that I tried going for a quick hike over my lunch hour. The affects were amazing, I could take a break, organize my thoughts, wake myself up and increase my attention span. When I got back from my hike, I found myself more focused and productive than I usually am in the afternoons.

You will find your sense of adventure
One benefit of hiking that I found rather unexpected was a new sense of adventure. I would set a start and end destination for my hike, but I often found myself going further or changing course because I wanted to check something out that looked interesting. Hiking is a great time to just take things as they come and not worry about following an exact plan. Now as I am saying this, I am not telling you to go off into a dense part of the wood or up a forgotten trail without any precautions. I go into a bit more detail below, but make sure you are well prepared and that you use common sense. Hiking, while very beneficial does come with its risks. I almost always go hiking with a buddy and I have my phone with me in case of emergencies.

You will foster relationships
Finally, another great benefit is that you get to meet new people who are out enjoying the same things you are. You already have one common interest, so it’s easy to strike up a conversation. You can meet some great people while hiking and if that’s one of your goals, I would recommend getting involved with a hiking group. I found some great ones online and they were very welcoming and helpful as I started my hiking journey.

It’s a combination of so many different benefits that make hiking so good for your body, mind and soul.

Are you interested in hiking?
Here are a few recommendations I have as a novice hiker:
Start small. Hiking can be intimidating, so start with a short trail in an area that you are familiar with.
Prepare for the worst. Depending on how long your hike is and where you are make sure you carry your phone, water, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray. Also, make sure, you are in a good pair of closed toe hiking shoes or boots.
Pack lightly. You don’t want a huge backpack weighing you down but make sure you have important things: like water, a compass, and anything you made need for your personal comfort or safety. Remote or longer hike will require a different kind of pack than short or close to home hikes.
Overestimate your trail time. I make sure I have my phone with me (although usually on airplane mode) so that I can keep track of the time.
Don’t ignore your own backyard. You can find some great trails in the middle of the city, or just on the outskirts. Try walking around your neighborhood, you might be surprised.
Use the buddy system. I would recommend hiking with a partner, it keeps you safe and is a fun time to socialize.

10 Jarring Ideas

Mason jars are the best and we crafters and passionate recyclers are always finding new uses for them. Here are a list of ideas:

  1. Mason Jars make trendy drinking glasses.
  2. They can be used as vases for fresh cut flowers.
  3. They can be used for taking snacks to work or school.
  4. Set the mood by decorating your mason jar and placing a tea light inside.
  5. Label and use to store your dried goods like: flour, sugar, oats, rice etc.
  6. Make your own old fashioned candy jars by filling with sweet treats and decorating appropriately.
  7. Make your own at home spa, by using mason jars to store makeup brushes, sponges, cotton swabs, and even bath products like body scrubs, creams, and Epson salts.
  8. Use for office or desk organization as they are perfect for storing pens, pencils, rulers, paper clips, etc.
  9. Entertaining? Mason jars are great for sending home party gifts! Just fill with cookies, treats, or even be a bit silly and make your own bubble blowing solution to send home with your party guests.
  10. Turn your used mason jars into homemade snow globes! Glue figurines to the inside of the metal cap. Fill the jar with water (don’t forget the sparkles!), seal tightly and soon you will have the kitty cat, puppy, superhero, farm animal, pop culture, or holiday (the options are limitless!) snow globes you’ve been waiting for!

For more creative ideas on what to do with your mason jars be sure to check crafting sites and social networks like Pinterest!

Play it Again

Recycling started to become a buzzword in the 1980s when curbside recycling really began to make headway in the US and Canada. We (hopefully) do it pretty automatically these days, but why stop at simply putting things in the recycling bin? Did you know that you can re-purpose many of your recyclables into art as well some great useful household items? There are a ton of awesome ideas online, but here is a project to get you started!

Mosaic memory box using old DVD’s 
Do you have any old CDs, DVDs, DVD-Rs or CD-Roms hiding in your closet? If so, we have a great craft for you! Since almost *everything* has gone digital, you can repurpose these old disks into something super cool – a mosaic memory box!
Here’s something that I made with old DVDs.

How to: Using scissors cut into the DVD (or any related disk). When you cut you will notice that a DVD is actually made of two layers. You can discard the clear plastic layer or save for another project, you will only be using the silver layer for this project (CDs only have one layer but won’t have the fun and vibrant purplish color you get with old DVDs). Cut the silver layer into a variety of shard shapes. You can use these to decorate whatever you are making the mosaic on (I used an old wooden box, but you can use any kind of surface really).

Carefully, apply a strong glue to the surface and start placing the pieces however you like cutting the pieces to fit the right shape (it’s kind of like doing a puzzle). I found that I really liked the look of leaving a thin line of space between shards. Also be careful, these shards can be very sharp and this can be a messy project.

After you are done, you will want to use a crystal clear gloss as a finish, otherwise all the beautiful shiny stuff will simply wipe away!

Top 8 Repurposes for Disposables

Today’s the day. You finally made the switch to The DivaCup and are overly excited to start on your eco-friendly journey! The only problem? What do you do with your unused disposable fem care products? No worries! Our team has you covered with the top 8 repurposes for your unused disposables. 🙂

#1: Donate, donate, donate!
The first and most important step you should take when deciding on what to do with your unused disposable products is to donate them. Find a local charity, homeless shelter or women’s organization that is willing to take your disposable products. Not only are you saving the landfills, you’re helping menstruating people in need*.

#2: Nosebleed? No problem
Do you experience frequent nosebleeds that keep you stranded in the bathroom for 20 minutes, leaving the bathroom looking like a scene from a horror movie? Your old tampons can help! Take the tampon out of the applicator and put it in your nose to help absorb all of the blood. This will allow you to get your work done without having to worry about the mess.

#3: Makeup applicator/ beauty blender
Beauty blenders can be pricey and overrated. Now’s the time to take advantage of your unused tampons. Like a recent viral video illustrated, you can take the tampon out of the applicator and use it as a beauty blender. Apply your foundation to the tampon and distribute it in the specific areas. Watch and learn here.

#4: A Handy and Discrete Wallet
Going out for a night on the town or traveling to a foreign place? Hide your money and valuables in an unused pad wrapper. Remove the pad from the wrapper, without tearing the wrapper. Staple the sides of the wrapper, while leaving the top open. Store any light valuables in the wrapper and store in your purse or pocket.

#5: Absorbing Foot Pads
When it comes to washing the floors, the list of tools you need in order to complete the job is endless. With your unused pads, washing floors just got easier. Wash your floors with your preferred solution and mop. To absorb the residue, stick your unused pads to the bottom of a clean shoe or slipper and drag your feet across the affected area. Voilà, clean floors while having fun. Involve the family! Even the kids may enjoy skating through the house on pads, making cleanup a breeze and fun family activity.

#6: Backups
By now you should be DivaCup obsessed and all of your friends and family should be tired of hearing you brag about this life-changing product. But, you may have a few friends that refuse to give it a try (they are really missing out!). Store some unused pads and tampons in a spot where your friends can easily have access to the products if need be.

#7: Crafts
Your unused disposables can make for great holiday crafts. Grab some art supplies (googly eyes, food coloring, sparkles, etc.) and head to Pinterest for some fun and silly holiday craft ideas! Deck the halls with pads and tampons!

#8: Hair curlers
Who knew that your unused tampons could double as hair curlers? Well, now you do! If you’re looking to rock that ‘beached-wave look’ remove the tampon from the applicator and take smaller sections of hair and wrap the hair around the tampon. Just as you would with any other curling device. You can pin the tampons to the hair for more of a tight curl. Check out a tutorial here.

Do you have any tips for repurposing unused disposables? If so, share them with our team!

*Diva International Inc. donates to a number of organizations and shelters. Though, The DivaCup may seem like the best option for donations, it is not always feasible as The DivaCup needs proper education as well as care and cleaning amenities. Check out some of our initiatives here.

 

 

A Diva’s Eco Journey

March 1st: The Beginning
I have thought to myself more than once, I really should do more to help the environment. But then, life gets in the way and I end up forgetting about it until the next time the issue comes to the front of my mind. It’s a cycle that just keeps repeating. But this month, in celebration of Earth Day, I am hoping to make some real environmental changes to my life.
That’s why for the next month I will be experimenting with several new environmentally friendly tricks to help reduce my eco-footprint. I plan to start off with baby steps and see if I can eventually get myself running on this eco-journey.

March 4th: Getting Things Started
It has been a few days since I made my eco-resolution and so far, I have put a few of my plans into action. One of my biggest resolutions is that I want to enjoy nature more and get more active at the same time. I want to do this by committing to going hiking at least once a week. I also ordered a free Discovery Pass online, if you are a Canadian citizen, I recommend ordering one! It gives you free access to every national park in Canada for 2017 in honor of Canada’s 150th birthday. I made it through my first hike this week, as I visited my folks out in the country and went traipsing through the fields. It was a great hour hike and left my muscles feeling well worked and my mind relaxed. Enjoying nature is a great way to remind yourself why it is so important to preserve and protect the beautiful world we share. Getting out into nature is also great for your physical as well as mental health.
Another step I took on my eco-journey was buying a good reusable water bottle. I have always told myself to drink more water and so I bought one with measurements on it, to help me keep track. With this, I have decided not to buy any plastic water bottles and I am giving up buying soda bottles as well.

March 8th: Garbage Troubles
One of the biggest environmental improvements I wanted to make in my life was my waste management. I wanted to improve how much waste I composted and recycled vs how much I threw out. My goal was to get my household (me and my roommate) down to one garbage bag every two weeks. We already have the added advantage of using The DivaCup so we don’t have to worry about waste from disposables. My main solution for this was to make sure we had a spot under the sink to put our compost, recycling and garbage so that we didn’t have to take them outside every time. This worked wonders. So far, I have found we fill our trash can much less frequently.

March 10th: Wash Day
Just a quick check in today, my Discover Pass came in the mail! I am also right on track with my personal hiking goal of getting out in nature at least once a week. It feels great!
In other news, it is laundry day today and I decided to wash my cloths in cold water. I didn’t notice a real difference from washing them in warm water so I will be making that change permanent. Much like switching to The DivaCup, I’m wondering why I didn’t do this sooner!

March 14th: Eco Grocery Trip
Today was my big grocery shopping day and I had the goal of being as healthy and eco-friendly as possible. I started it off right and brought my own bags to hold my groceries. I also made sure to buy as much fresh, local, and unpackaged produce as possible. As for the packaged items, I kept in mind what packaging I could recycle and what I couldn’t. I also visited the bulk food store to stock up on some trail mix and other snacks. Lots of bulk stores have some great new initiative that allows customers to bring in their own containers instead of using the portion bags, so ask your local store if they do as well! If they don’t, maybe you can make a big difference by insisting that they do! At my local store, it worked like the: they simply weighed the containers first and then I filled them up. It also really helped with portion control!

March 15th: Meal Planning
So now that my fridge is full of fresh food, it’s time to prep my meals and snacks. This is a habit I have gotten into since I started living on my own. I find it convenient and quite fun to prep about two big meals and a bunch of fresh snacks like fruits and veggies for the whole week. Having prepped meals allows me to save time on weeknight meal prep, helps me save money by not purchasing my lunch, gives me readily available dinners, and reduces my environmental impact with the reusable constrainers that store my food. . Some fun easy meals I like to make include pastas, stuffed peppers and stir-fries.

March 19th: Thrifty Diva
Today I was out visiting my parents and my mom and I decided to do a little shopping. Now a shopping trip for us doesn’t involve malls or retail stores, it involves thrift shops. Now I know they aren’t for everyone, but for me they are a gold mine. I thought visiting one during my eco-journey was a great way to help re-purpose some great items. It turned out to be a successful trip and I walked out with a red suede coat that looked brand new!

March 22nd: The Journey Continues  
Its getting near the end of the month and I am proud of the changes I have made thus far. I am keeping up with my hiking each week, using cold water to wash my clothes, I am prepping my meals and sticking with my composting plan. I have also noticed that I feel better because I have been drinking more water and eating healthier from all my meal prep and fresh produce. I think overall everything is going very well and I hope to continue on this track well past the end of the month.

From my journey this month, I learned that by making small, personal changes to better my environmental impact, I really can make a difference. I found it much easier to stick to my small goals and objectives and still have a significant environmental impact. I am proud of the progress I have made and I am dedicated to continuing on my Eco-Journey.

Be an Eco-Diva With Your Own Indoor Herb Garden!

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plantgrowBasil, thyme, sage, mint, oregano and parsley.

Who doesn’t love the taste of these fresh herbs in their cooking? Well Campus Divas, it’s time to bring that taste to your dorm or apartment! Instead of paying supermarket prices for these herbs, why not try growing them at home?  College comes along with new expenses and saving money is on the mind of most college students. An indoor vegetable and herb garden can help save money in many ways; plus it can get you started on a journey to not only a new hobby but potentially also a healthier life style. We know that when it comes to student living, space is limited, so we are going to focus our tips on growing herbs in a small space.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to grow these herbs indoors, even in small spaces. All you need is a pot, some soil, a few herb plants of your choosing, and a nice place in the sun for them to grow. If you still don’t think you have the green thumb that you need to make this project work, then here are some great tips to make sure you have fresh herbs all year round!

 

My Herb Growing Recipe:

1.       The first thing you need to think about is location; plants need an ample amount of sunlight so pick the sunniest spot in your dorm, room, or apartment. Window sills are a great location but if you don’t have one you can easily place your herbs on a table or desk in a nice sunny spot. Remember, the sun’s energy provides food for your plants so it is essential for a healthy herb garden. A lot of herbs also only need partial sunlight which makes indoor herb gardens so successful.

2.       Choose the herbs you want to grow. We recommend growing the herbs you use the most first such as cilantro, mint, parsley, and basil. There are also some great herbs you can grow for natural remedy purposes. For example, mint is a great calming herb that can help with headaches and can also help with digestion.

3.       Find the right container for your plants. Depending on the amount and variation of herbs you want to grow, there are many different options you could go with when choosing how to contain and grow your herbs. You could use the classic terra cotta pots, or even recycled bottles can work great. You can find many great ideas on Pinterest and we have a few examples for you to check out below. Remember: any container you use must have proper drainage either in the form of holes in the bottom (don’t forget to put a plate underneath to catch any excess water) or put some rocks in the bottom of your pots to create space for excess water.

4.       Add soil to the mix. This you may need to purchase from your local garden store, but depending on the time of year a lot of other stores can also have soil available. We recommend regular potting soil which has the added nutrients needed for growing seedlings.

5.       It’s time to start planting! We recommend starting with your herbs in sprouted seedling form as they will grow faster and more easily.  When planting, make sure to research each herb before putting them in the soil as different herbs have different soil depth requirements.

6.       Add Water. Once your seedlings have been placed in their new home, it’s time to add water! You will want to try your best to keep the soil moist by watering them as needed. A great general guideline is to check the soil daily to see if more water is needed. It’s also important to note that some herbs may needmore frequent watering while others will need less.

7.       Let them simmer till fully mature. A good tip to remember when your herbs are ready is to never harvest more than one third of the plant at a time. This allows that one third to grow back and allows the plant to last much longer. Tip: Never harvest the largest bottom leaves as they are the main food gathering source of the plant and help keep your herbs growing.

8.       It’s time to eat! Cut up some of your delicious fresh herbs and throw them into your favorite recipe and enjoy! It is unbelievable what a difference fresh herbs can make to your culinary experiments!

So now that you have the basics down, here are some great extra tips that could help make things go a little smoother as you get started with your very own herb garden!

 

A Few Extra Tips and Tricks:

  • If you are a bit unsure of what herbs to start your gardening project with, we recommend basil or mint as a great first herb. Both basil and mint grow quickly with relatively little maintenance and they have many uses in cooking and other remedies. Be careful when growing mint to keep it contained because it can spread very easily and, if allowed will, take over your herb garden.
  • How to trim your herbs properly. We recommend that you cut your herbs just above a set of growing leaves and keep on taking from the top as this will allow the herbs to grow new shoots. Once your plants have flowered they will not last too much longer, but if you continue to cut them back they will continue to grow for several months.
  • Plants also like heat so make sure the space you keep your herbs is warm enough and if they are on a window sill make sure the window is not drafty.
  • Remember that before starting your herb garden, make sure to also do your own research for any specific requirements the herbs you chose might have. Every herb can be a little different when it comes to care, harvesting, and cooking.

 

Now that you have your instructions and tips in the front of your mind, you can start to think about how you will set up your personal herb garden. The best thing is that not only will your functional indoor garden add to your home cooking but it will also add to your overall environment! Plants in your living space help with air quality, and even mood, so let’s make it unique. There are tons of different ways to make this project your own! Check out these great Pinterest Ideas!

herb1 herb2 herb3 herb4

 

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Q & A with the Lunagals

Earlier this month DivaCup co-founders, Francine and Carinne Chambers had an opportunity to talk with Lunapads co-founder Madeleine Shaw about period care, the incredible program Pads4Girls and the many wonderful moments of female entrepreneurship. Join the conversation by reading our post below and sharing it with the Divas in your life!

Can you share a bit about the history of Lunapads?

I started developing Lunapads and Lunapanties in 1993 when I realized that the recurrent vaginal infections I was experiencing were starting within a few hours of the onset of my periods (ie putting in a tampon). Until then I had been exclusively a tampon user, and was unwilling to switch to disposable pads, which had always seemed wasteful and bulky to me. Having a background in fashion design, I decided to sew my own cloth pads and padded panties.

LunapadsWebsiteUsing something comfortable and pretty to manage my flow, as well as going through the previously unimaginable experience of washing and reusing rather than throwing away the products showed me that rather than being gross and inconvenient, my period was actually really cool and worth paying attention to.

I noticed that I started feeling better about my body in general, and even started learning about my cycle and its relationship to the lunar cycle. Periods for me basically went from being a messy chore to being something special, so I decided to commercialize the products in the hope that this would also be true for others who tried them.

My business partner Suzanne and I met at a community leadership course in 1999. Realizing that we shared a dream for healthier women and a healthier planet, we combined our talents to grow Lunapads into the brand it is today.

Although there are many, if you had to pick just one, what aspect of sustainable menstrual care do feel is most important?

While Lunapads definitely came out of the desire to address a specific health concern, I feel like sustainable menstrual products support women’s health and wellness in many other ways as well: by creating a cleaner environment, as well as sending more positive messages about our periods and bodies that in turn support self-esteem.

Have you encountered any barriers to launching a new femcare product and business within an already established industry?

Definitely, and yet one of the advantages is that sustainable innovations like Lunapads, Lunapanties and The DivaCup are just flat-out so much better than disposables. Put another way: I have yet to hear a customer tell me how much she loves the disposable products she is currently using – they are as drying and uncomfortable as they have ever been, so all we really need to do is address the perception that dealing with your menses instead of throwing it away is taboo. Not that that’s always easy, but the feedback that we get again and again is that it wasn’t a huge deal, and, as was the case for me, changing how you think about it can be liberating and help us to love ourselves more, which is light years away from what any disposable product can do

What inspired you to start Pads4Girls?

Our mission with Pads4Girls is to support education for girls in developing nations by providing them with sustainable, affordable menstrual products. The program also supports economic empowerment for women by supporting locally-based padmaking initiatives.

one4herInitially, the idea grew from a letter we received in 2000 from a Zimbabwean/Canadian woman, who informed us that girls and women there had little or nothing to help them manage their menses and asked us whether we could send over some Lunapads.

Lack of access to menstrual products affects millions of girls in the developing world. As many as 10% of girls miss school because of it. The effect of these missed days is devastating, with girls missing up to 20% of their education, thereby increasing the likelihood of dropping out, earlier marriage and pregnancy, as well as limiting career options.

In many communities, disposable products are impossibly expensive or simply unavailable. Providing reusable products means the burden of purchasing products each month is removed and the environmental devastation that thousands of disposable pads would have on the landscape is alleviated.

Can you explain how Pads4Girls works?

Since 2000, we have been providing school girls with washable menstrual pads and underwear that, like Lunapads, will last them for years. During the following years, we would either make the pads and panties ourselves, or gather pads made by customers and supporters, and send them to whoever asked for them.

LunapadsAFRIpadsIn 2008 things changed when we were approached by two development aid workers in Uganda who had come across Lunapads via a volunteer from Vancouver: they asked us if they could copy the products and start a business there selling them. We said yes, and today AFRIpads employs 65 people!

Following our trip to Uganda in January 2012 we launched our One4Her program. Similar to the TOMS Shoes model, with eligible purchases of Lunapads, we provide girls with AFRIpads. Since its launch, in partnership with dozens of groups, individuals and NGOs, Pads4Girls and One4Her have reached over 120,000 girls and women in 15 nations with supplies, giving them immediate and practical means to have a better future.

How does One4Her empower women? 

One of the things of which we are proudest (and that also happens to make total business sense!) is that One4Her supports economic empowerment for women. In the beginning, we used to make all the pads and panties here in Vancouver and send them where they were needed. Which was great for the girls who received them, however expensive and inefficient.

Working with AFRIpads, the pads are made in Uganda using local labour, which creates employment, as well as increasing the capacity to provide more pads since we are no longer paying to have them made and shipped from Canada.

When we went to Uganda and visited AFRIpads, the workers each wrote us a personal letter telling us how their lives have changed thanks to having a job – they are now able to send their kids to school, buy homes and livestock, and even start their own businesses. This in turn raises their overall status as women in their communities, giving them greater power and respect.

What period care options are viable options for the regions you work with? 

We are excited about the increasing variety of choices becoming available as awareness of the Menstrual Health Management (MHM) issue grows, including sustainable disposable, as well as reusable, options. We work with each group individually to assess things like water availability, social taboos, and whether or not the girls or women have underwear to determine which options are best for any given population.

How can our Diva Community support your programs?

You’re doing it right now! We love the Diva Community, and are proud to count Francine and Carinne as treasured longtime friends and colleagues. Liking Lunapads and Pads4Girls on Facebook (as well as following @lunapads and @pads4girls on Twitter) is a great place to start. You can also support Pads4Girls directly by donating here.

Where do you see Lunapads in ten years?

We are doing a ton of behind-the-scenes product development at Lunapads right now, as well as thinking about other ways to support reproductive wellness and body needs from menarche to menopause and beyond.

Our legacy will be that the next generations of girls are more fully aware of their options and choose healthier and more natural choices for themselves. We want girls to be as shame-free about their bodies as possible, and to grow up to be healthy, empowered adults

What advice would you give to women looking to start a business?

We always tell people to choose something that you’re passionate about, because being an entrepreneur is not always as easy road, so you want to make sure that what you’re going to be spending so much time and effort on truly matters to you. We are also big proponents of business partnerships: doing it solo can be tough, so finding someone with complementary skills who shares your dream is a big asset.

Lunapads co-founders Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens

SuzanneSiemens-MadeleineShaMadeline and Suzanne are well-known social entrepreneurs and longtime DivaCup fans and distributors. Their business success in the sustainable menstrual care world has also brought them an opportunity to make a unique difference in supporting education for girls in the developing world with their Pads4Girls and One4Her initiatives.