This project was to provide over 300 residents with a choice of reusable period products. Partners engaged in a variety of methods to educate residents, resulting in continued use of reusables. In turn, residents will reduce their waste, carbon footprint and save money. This project helped the transition to more sustainable products, which should be easily available to everyone.
- Enable lower income residents to access reusable period products, ideally free of charge.
- Increase awareness on the benefits of reusable period products over disposables.
- To help reduce period poverty in a levelling up area.
- Empower residents through education and information, to make decisions on the products they would like to use.
The pilot was aimed at menstruating residents, predominantly females using the youth group (11-25) and foodbank in Canvey Island.
The goal was to provide and educate 300 residents with reusable period products with the hope that they will continue using reusables and reduce the number of disposables going to landfill.
July – October 2022.
Digital, face to face, print.
Who was involved in this project?
Lead organisation: Essex County Council – BLUEPRINT team
- Circular Economy Officers.
- Circular Economy Manager.
- Design Team.
- External Comms.
- Research Team.
Other stakeholders involved
- Essex County Council.
- Castle Point Borough Council.
- Canvey Island Library & Job Centre.
- Cabinet members including Cllr McKinlay who was the key councillor.
- Interreg - BLUEPRINT Project.
- Yellow Door Youth Project.
- Hey Girls.
Where was the project piloted and why?
Canvey Island, Essex, UK.
Canvey Island was chosen as it is recognised as one of ECC’s key levelling up areas, a location with concentrated pockets of deprivation.
Why was the project created?
Why we did the project
Commonly used disposable period products are 90% plastic. There are 18 million people in the UK using around 11,000 disposables period products each in their lifetime, this equals a huge number of items used once and thrown away. On average, disposable period products cost £18,450 over a person’s lifetime. Reusable period products can be better for the environment as well as the financial benefit of purchasing products that last many years. The project was run to decrease plastic going to landfill, but also to educate residents on the circular economy and help lower income residents who might not be able to afford disposables or reusables period products.
Expected value to the circular economy
Residents switching to reusables will reduce the amount of period products going to landfill but will also save disposables from being flushed, blocking/polluting drains, rivers and seas. This will reduce disposal costs and decrease carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting disposable period products. For example, on average a year’s worth of disposable pads and tampons for one person produces 8.9kg of CO2 emissions, the same as charging a mobile phone more than 1000 times. (Calculation from Wuka). Based on these figures, this pilot could save 2670kg CO2 per year.
How was the project implemented?
- Background research.
- Set up working group.
- Scope target audience.
- Identify targets and monitoring systems.
- Define processes and training needs.
- Source products, materials and training.
- Create webpages and promotional materials.
- Update project partners and organise agreement.
- Schedule catch ups and reviews.
Cost and staff resource
- Staff required – 0.3 FTE.
- £9000 worth of period products.
- £1000 of marketing materials – printing & delivery.
- Marketing materials design.
- External expertise for training.
- External partners to distribute products and collect feedback.
- Cabinet member approval for levelling up.
- Data Protection Impact Assessment.
- Research team for maximised results on questionnaire.
- Weekly check-ins with partners to determine take up and planning next steps.
- Anonymous printed and digital feedback questionnaires.
- Order forms to monitor the number of residents placing orders for each product.
- Google analytics to monitor website views.
- The reach for this pilot was hard to measure as all the events were in person with information to take away. Partners hosted ‘Period Parties’ for a variety of ages. Counsellors also attended to enable them to share information in private one to one sessions.
- Partners had stalls at a cost-of-living event, freshers fair and schools.
- 50 residents took home reusable products. If they stopped using disposables after this, it could save up to 55,000 disposables going to landfill (based on figures by WEN).
- Collecting feedback also proved difficult. Users were to use the product for at least one period before submitting results. Only 6/40 people returned feedback so results might not be an accurate representation but 3 stating they would use reusables for all or some of the time going forwards.
The strengths of the pilot have been:
- the stigma around periods made it hard to initiate engagement but once engaged users gained confidence in not only using the products but talking about periods and period products
The weaknesses of the pilot have been:
- one of the obstacles faced was lack of communication and partner capacity which didn’t allow as many check-ins as requested in the agreement.
- although users consented to give feedback, physically collecting feedback was difficult as there was no incentive.
- this pilot was relatively small and aimed at a very targeted area. More impact could have been made on a bigger scale pilot as more money could be spent on advertising
- The biggest risk was stock. All the products were purchased and delivered at the beginning of the pilot to allow a variety of sizes to be ordered. There is then the issues of slow uptake, storage space and how to move if there is low demand.
- Another risk was relying solely on partners to distribute products as they had competing priorities.
- Without further incentive after receiving the products, feedback was difficult to collect.