In a few weeks, the University Bookstore in the Student Center will be home, not only to Temple hoodies and travel mugs, but also to organic tampons, cloth pads, and a new alternative menstrual product called “the Keeper.”
Thanks to the Tampaction Campaign, sponsored by the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) and Students for Environmental Action (SEA), the bookstore agreed to add alternative products to the conventional items already being offered.
The action taken by the campaign is an effort to realize their goal: “to eradicate the use of unhealthy, unsustainable tampons and pads, institutionalize sustainable alternatives into our schools and communities, and infuse healthy attitudes surrounding menstruation into our culture’s consciousness.” More than 25 schools have joined the campaign so far, including Temple.
The new products are health-oriented and all three promise a lowered risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can be fatal.
Organic tampons are made of 100% pesticide-free cotton, while conventional tampons are made out of rayon and cotton that may have been treated with chemicals and carcinogens. The cloth pads are also made from organic, all-natural cotton. The Keeper, which is a rubber cup to be worn internally, is made from natural gum rubber and is reusable for up to 10 years.
According to the campaign, males and females alike stand to benefit from these items. The average woman throws away about 6,800 feminine products in a lifetime. Discarded tampons and pads pile up in landfills, and may take up to six months to biodegrade. Recyclable alternatives like the cloth pads or the Keeper can help put a stop to this amount of waste.
Environmentalists also have concerns with the production of conventional tampons or pads. The process of making these products releases harmful chemicals like dioxins, which pollute the environment. The production of organic tampons and cloth pads is chemical-free.
According to Andrea Mickus, a national coordinator for the Student Environmental Action Coalition and a sophomore, people of both sexes and all ages should pay attention to this campaign.
“Having it [menstruation] be a woman’s thing instead of an everyone thing is divisive, and it also reinforces gender stereotypes,” Mickus said.
Mickus was instrumental in pitching the campaign to bookstore manager James Hackett.
“We thought that we were going to have to convince the bookstore more, but James has been completely cooperative,” said Mickus.
Hackett chose to market the new products based on a business viewpoint. He explained that there are few vendors to sell the desired items, and the bookstore will be catering to a growing demographic. The bookstore is also planning on opening up to the trend of organic foods in the coming months.
According to Mickus, a growing trend among teenagers is to buy products labeled “organic,” and she hopes that this will extend to the feminine products.
“It’s trendy to shop organic, and behind the trend there are definite health reasons. I think that because people are aware of the trend they are more likely to be receptive to the health and environmental reasons.”
Although the bookstore is currently experiencing “vendor difficulties,” the new products have been ordered and should be available within weeks. Once the items do arrive, FMLA and SEA plan to distribute free samples using donations provided by various companies.
The organic tampons and cloth pads sold in the bookstore will be more expensive than conventional items, but “hopefully we’ll be able to keep them competitive,” said Hackett.
Some students are already anticipating the changes in the bookstore.
Freshman and self-described feminist Emily Schu said, “I’m excited because information is finally getting out to your everyday female. This is something that I feel all women should know about but that’s covered up by the media and the big corporations.”
No matter what the price, Schu pledges to purchase, saying “I definitely plan on supporting it [the campaign] because I think the information needs to be spread on campus.”
There will be a workshop titled “The Truth about Tampons II” today from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the Women’s Studies Lounge on the 10th floor of Anderson Hall for all students interested in learning about alternative products.
Kristi Lee Daidone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.