It was 4pm on a Friday, the office was already nearing the weekend vibes. I thought of taking a coffee break but then zor se su su aayi rey..so I hurried into the washroom to take care of my business and the moment I got in, a colleague of mine called out "Hey I have chums, can you get me a pad?"
Now the thing is, it's been 2 years since I switched to menstrual cups so those days of extra pads in my bag are long gone. But somehow I was able to reach out to office supplies and help out my colleague at that time.
But wait a minute, I don't know if you noticed when she said "chums" in a women's washroom! It's 2018 folks, why do we still hesitate to call periods---> PERIODS?
So as soon as my colleague got out I asked her the same question,
to which she said-
Maybe because I've been trained to hide the word and anything related to "periods" ever since I hit puberty!
Later the conversation carried on over coffee with more colleagues joining in and at that time I realized that-
Many women on my floor didn't have a clue about the devastation caused by commercial menstrual pads disposal;
Many thought that pads are biodegradable!
For many others the idea of environmental sustainability around menstruation sounded puzzling;
All of this realization was too much for me to digest, so on that weekend I penned down a plan to organize an awareness session around sustainable menstruation in my office and presented it the following week to Women Empowerment Network's leaders within our organization.
I guess my urge to convey this information and drive change was so high at that time, that it passionately reflected during the presentation and they agreed to support me to launch this event.
Within a month we pulled together a panel of NGO speakers & gynecologists and hosted #PeriodForChange - a forum to openly discuss and understand-
Basics of menstruation
What are the environmental problems related to current menstrual products available in the market?
Why women need to be conscious about the environment each month?
What are the sustainable alternatives today?
How to use them?
We pilot tested this session at our India HQ and it was open to all genders. Unexpectedly we saw an inflow of 100 employees with 25% of male members as well-which is a great start to a traditional Indian community.
It was fascinating for me to see the audience's response to sustainable menstruation. The data was so compelling that Q&A session was not only insightful but also felt inclusive because two men from the audience inquired about online resources and trial kits for them to make it accessible for their daughters and they even shared menstrual experiences of their loved ones, isn't that cool!
10 women from the audience wrote back to me saying that they are going to give sustainable menstrual products a try.
Its 2021 now..time went by, pandemic brought in a new normal and I too moved on from that organization a year ago. But just last week 2 of my ex-colleagues Whatsapped me and the message read as follows-
"Hey Sree, I finally switched to a menstrual cup and this is fantastic!"
That call back message made me feel grateful and proved that;
"Agar tum kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho, toh poori kayanat, tumhe usse milane mei lag jaati hai".
So dear folks, if you identified a problem jisse aapka khoon khaule and if you have the passion to solve that environmental problem, Go ahead- Take the lead- Ideate a project and JUST DO IT.
When you walk the path, right collaborators will bump into you to help amplify your vision. But for that to happen you must start and take the lead.
P.S - Data suggests that a woman can generate 125kgs of non biodegradable waste through her menstruating years alone. Therefore this session saved an ~1500kgs of non biodegradable menstrual waste ...how? Well..12 women already made the switch therefore you can do the math :)
Speaking of collaborators, one of my artist friend Parul Pancholi (not an employee of the organization) was so happy to hear about #PeriodForChange that she took the lead to help me with graphic design and here is one of the posters. #Collaboration