Proposal: Sustainable Menstruation at WUR

This week the Wageningen university green office submitted a proposal with darner design that could revolutionize life on campus as a menstruating human. This project is just a pilot, but would provide free reusable menstrual pads on campus for anyone that needs them. Wanna know more? Check out the proposal!

Description of the Project 

This initiative aims to cultivate awareness and social safety regarding menstruation while providing reusable menstrual pads on the Wageningen University campus. The multi-phase rollout will involve awareness campaigns, educational efforts, and the distribution of sustainable menstrual products 

  • Create awareness about menstruation on campus:  
  • Empower (SDG5) and educate (SDG4) and provide a safe and welcoming work and study environment (SDG8) 
  • Promote sustainable menstruation through reusable products (SDG12) that are safe and hygienic (SDG 3 and 6) 
    • Provide sustainable menstrual products 
    • Through an invitation to pick them up at the Green Office (promoted in designated areas on campus) 
  • Promotion at relevant WUR events such as Dies Natalies, PhD defences, or at Impulse events 
  • Follow-Up Project: 
    • Based on positive reception, extend the initiative to strategic campus locations and major events like the Wageningen Annual Introduction Days (AID) 

Project Overview 

The project seeks to raise awareness about menstruation, menstrual poverty, and sustainable living by reducing waste using reusable products. Such products contribute to environmental sustainability with the potential to be used for up to 10 years, as opposed to the 49 billion disposable menstrual products contributing to 590 metric tons of waste in the European Union. They are also a healthier alternative as single-use products are made of harmful chemicals which can penetrate the skin and cause health hazards.  

Menstrual poverty transcends financial constrains; it encompasses the need for a safe space for all menstruating individuals.  

Menstrual poverty does not only affect 10% of women living in the Netherlands that struggle to afford these products. It is also about addressing the need to provide a safe space for all those who menstruate. Safety not only in terms of hygiene, but also socially safe and free of shame. Every public space (e.g. university, workspace) should create an atmosphere of inclusiveness for menstruation through open discussion, acknowledgement and most importantly by providing accessibility to menstrual products. Menstruation should be celebrated and not shamed or hidden behind closed doors. It is something we need as healthy humans and can be improved through education and inclusiveness. No one should be excluded from work or education because they are menstruating. Facilitation, easy access to menstrual products and open discussion are essential in alleviating menstrual poverty and inequality. 

 

Why the Project Matters 

Sustainable menstruation aligns with at least six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: 

Goal 3 Good Health and Well-being: being able to menstruate while working or studying without worries, stress or fear is essential. Promoting and providing products that are free from harmful chemicals and safe to use is also supporting this SDG. 

Goal 4 Quality Education: Part of the project is creating awareness about sustainable menstruation. This means understanding why menstruation is important and part of a healthy human, and sharing knowledge about how this can be done sustainably for the environment and your health by opting for reusable products. 

Goal 5 Gender Equality: Menstruation is often a hidden barrier to learning or working comfortably. Providing menstrual products on campus creates both normalcy around menstruation and makes sustainable menstrual products available to all. 

Goal 6 Clean water and Sanitation: Although we have clean water in the Netherlands, menstrual products or ‘sanitary napkins’ are a requirement for hygienic menstruation. Providing an option on campus that is also safe for the skin, reusable and antimicrobial is another step towards this goal even for people with clean water. 

Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth: Providing a space to work and learn without having to worry about rushing home for a menstrual product or staying home for lack of resources creates a work and learning environment where people can thrive. Providing products shows respect for basic human needs. 

Goal 12 Responsible Consumption and Production: Encouraging reusable menstrual options on campus is part of changing daily habits that can improve consumption patterns. 

Goal 14 and 15 Life on Land and Below Water: Using reusable menstruation products, reduces waste and pollution, creating habits that reduce the impact on biodiversity both on land and below water. 

The above goals apply to Wageningen and can be summarized in the chart below to apply anywhere in the world (https://menstrualhygieneday.org/project/infographic-mhm-and-sdgs/ ) 

Pilot quantities and pads

To conduct the pilot project with menstrual pads available on demand at the Green Office, the estimated quantities of reusable pad are as follows: