Today we are delighted to talk to Martha Silcott, driving force behind brand Fab Little Bag, about the inspiration behind the business, and her thoughts on the wider movement to end period stigma and period poverty. So, without further ado here’s this week’s post- Keeping the oceans clean: a q&a with Marth Silcott.
*Before we start*
Martha, what’s the story behind how Fab Little Bag came to be?
Inspiration for FabLittleBag was born out of frustration and desperation! Whilst at a friends house for a dinner party, I was on my period and needed to use their down stairs loo to change my tampon; I am a Binner so I did the ‘Loo Roll Wrap’ and went to put it in the bin… only to find that there was no bin! After ten seconds of panic I decided to wrap it up some more and did the ‘Sleeve Smuggle’ followed by the ‘Handbag Smuggle’, glad that the wine was flowing and hoping the no-one had seen!
Suffice to say it really ruined my night worrying about what was going on in my handbag… I was convinced that there must be a better, less awkward and less stressful way to dispose, but there wasn’t! So I invented one and FabLittleBag was born.
Why is it so important to get women away from the habit of flushing their disposables?
Flushing tampons,pads,condoms, wipes, etc all leads to blockages and pollution because sewers are designed to overflow into rivers, which in turn lead to the ocean. As a result, flushed products end up polluting these environments BIG TIME:
- 2.5m tampons, 1.4m pads & 700k pantyliners are flushed every single day in the UK.
- In 2015 the Ocean Conservatory collected over 27,000 tampons and applicators form beaches in a single DAY
- Sanitary waste is the 5th largest polluter of SUP in our oceans
Most flushers are what we call ‘Gobsmacked Flushers’- they have no idea that their actions are causing their tampons and pads to hang out with Nemo and his family in the ocean. When educated, they want to stop flushing immediately! There are some ‘Guilty Flushers’ out there too, but these are the minority. The good news is that there are now more product options out there to help women with their periods.
What tips do you have for women in finding what’s right for them in this growing marketplace?
Try all of them! We’re in a great position now because alongside the traditional disposables, there are now reusable options too- such as menstrual cups, period pants, washable pads, plus organic disposable products that have literally exploded over the last 3 years. When it comes to tampons, my advice is to try different brands to find your fit- some expand width ways, other lengthways for example.
Who around you inspires you in the period movement, and why?
There are a few!
- Gaby Edlin from Bloody Good Period for her amazing work in getting period products to refugee women and raising the profile of period poverty and the gaps that exist within groups of disadvantaged groups.
- Afsaneh Parvizi-Wayne for her integrity in her organic brand Freda and for calling gout BS when she sees it
- Emma Barnett for being open and honest and using her position of celebrity for real good. Part of our challenge in the world of periods is to break down the multiple taboos and talking about it on a big platform reaches many and brings comfort and education. Endometriosis is a cripple disease afflicting many many women who are suffering in silence, she has helped turn up the volume.
- All and any volunteers who give ether time to educate and help to provide free sanitary products to those in most need, and to that end Clegg Bamber and Anna Miles of The RedBox Project who have made a HUGE impact in this area, and globally!
Why do you think this movement is gaining strength and momentum at this time?
It’s well overdue and activism has played a positive role! Thanks to the period tax and period poverty, which ironically brought the issue of periods to the fore, women want to reclaim periods and have them discussed and addressed on their own terms,
There are some great resources and organisations out there now. What would you recommend for women who want to learn more about this issue?
It depends what you want to learn about – there is a huge amount info and opinion on social- but there is also a lot of greenwashing, self promotion and crap info out there amongst the plethora of good stuff. I would always say that when it comes to anything medical relating to periods, do not rely on google or insta, or even your best mate! Get facts from experts such as @gynaegeek (actually she is on Insta but she is a proper Doctor!! ), try out different products, think about how you personally feel about your own period. But a note of caution: let’s not have women judging other women about how they chose to manage their own periods. I hate that. Periods are personal, we all must respect that.