We've been chatting to young people who are doing really inspiring things, whether it's a hobby, an interest or a campaign that might change the world... we've loved hearing from you!
This week we're chatting to Amy and Ella Meek, the founders of Kids Against Plastic!
Amy and Ella set up Kids Against Plastic back in 2016 after learning about the UN's Global Goals for Sustainable Development and in particular the recurring issue of plastic pollution. Their mission to make a difference started out as a home-school project and has since become an award-winning charity.
The girls have worked hard to inspire kids and adults alike to take action to reduce their use of single-use plastics - or become "Plastic Clever" as they like to call it. Their Plastic Clever award scheme has been adopted by over 900 school as well as cafes and businesses around the UK.
As well as speaking internationally at big events such as the Young Activists Summit in the UN Geneva in December 2019 and giving their own TEDx talk back in 2018, they've also published a book called Be Plastic Clever.
Amy And Ella are passionate about the cause and through the book, their campaigning and activism, they hope to inspire other young people to find, and use, their voices to bring about positive changes to the planet!
To celebrate Zero Waste Week (7th-11th September 2020), we asked Amy and Ella to give our TotsBots Bloom & Nora range of reusable sanitary products a go and have a chat about plastic-free periods!
When did you first become aware of reusable sanitary products?
Amy: Quite late into our plastics campaigning as part of Kids Against Plastic! Plastic in sanitary products is relatively unspoken about, and I was horrified when I realised how much plastic waste I could be producing every month when I was trying so hard to cut down on the amount of single-use plastic I used. I started off using plastic-free and cotton-based disposable products, but making the change to reusable products was the obvious next move (from both an environmental and cost perspective!). We always talk about how the ideal solution to a lot of our plastic consumption is to swap out our single-use items for reusables, and it’s no different when it comes to disposable sanitary wear.
Ella: I first became aware of reusable products when I heard about the impact that single use plastic sanitary products had on the environment, which was about 3 years ago.
Among your friends, is there an awareness of plastic waste in disposable sanitary items?
Amy: Awareness is definitely growing, but it’s not widespread. Plastic in disposable sanitary items is a hidden menace, similarly as it is in teabags or chewing gum – if you aren’t actively aware of the plastic you use, it’s hard to spot the plastic in these products. There’s a growing movement away from the obvious single-use plastics, like bottles or straws, and I hope that with increased education, and the continued work of amazing plastic-free period campaigners like Ella Daish, we’ll see a similar movement with regards to disposable plastic sanitary items.
Ella: Yes, I think there is a growing awareness of the waste caused by disposable products but the difficultly is that many people don’t know where to find other products and what’s best to get. However, as more awareness is raised and more products are on the market, hopefully we will see the transition to reusable sanitary items.
Did you use the reusable pads when at home, out and about or overnight?
Amy: I have to admit that I was a little dubious and paranoid when I first tried reusable period products. Every menstruating person has that (rather irrational) worry about their sanitary items notwithstanding the time you’re using them for, so you’ve got to overcome that again when trying a new kind of product! But once I got past that, I use them all the time.
How did Bloom & Nora compare absorbency-wise compared to your previous disposable period products?
I’m always conscious of hygiene when on my period, never wearing products for more than a few hours, so I’ve had no issues with absorbency of reusable products.
How did you find washing the reusable pads?
Easier than expected! I just make sure to wash them soon after usage, and dry them ready for the next day – pretty simple once you get into the habit.
Have you tried any other types of eco-friendly sanitary products?
Amy: Reusable period pants are amazing, and I’m also trying to get used to using a menstrual cup – I’ve certainly heard good things about them!
Ella: We use eco-friendly pads that aren’t damaging to the environment but would love to start using reusable ones more regularly in the future.
How quickly I’ve adjusted and become used to using them. They’re so convenient, definitely more comfortable, and I have a greater peace of mind not throwing away another disposable product every few hours!
What advice would you give to anyone considering trying reusable sanitary products?
You may be a bit dubious at first, but once you’ve made the switch to reusable menstrual products, I doubt you’ll look back! Just as using a reusable water bottle, or putting a travel mug in your bag, it’s a habit we’re all trying to get into to help combat plastic pollution. Definitely try to make reusable sanitary wear a regular part of your cycle. It’ll save you money in the long-run and will definitely have a significant impact on your single-use plastic consumption (after all, that’s a good 15,000 less disposable products you’re throwing away every year!).
Feeling inspired to make your periods plastic-free? Why not try reusable sanitary pads for yourself and check out the range here!