Sustainable Cycles is a collective of spokeswomen who travel the country by bicycle spreading the word about sustainable menstrual products. Through leading workshops and engaging in one-on-one conversations, we seek to break down the cultural taboo surrounding menstruation and help women make the switch to methods such as menstrual cups, reusable pads, and sponges – methods that save women a whole lot of money, worry, and trash.
The project was started in 2011 by Sarah Konner and Toni Craige, who biked down the West Coast meeting with groups of women to talk about periods and offer alternatives to single-use pads and tampons. This spring, 7 women will traverse the US along three different routes in order to converge in Boston at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research’s National Conference at the beginning of June.
We – Heather and Rachel – will be bicycling up the east coast from Key West, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts, facilitating conversations about menstruation and sustainable, healthy ways of engaging with our cycles.
While in some ancient cultures, menstruation was seen as a sacred time of month, in modern times getting one’s period can feel like more of a burden than a gift. Across the world, menstruation presents challenges for women and girls. An average woman will spend $2000-$3000 on her period and use 12,000-16,000 disposable products over the course of her life. For low-income women, having their cycles can be trying because food stamps do not cover pads and tampons. In some places, menstruation is a primary cause of girls missing or dropping out of school. Switching to reusable options gives women long-lasting support for their cycles. It can mean spending under $100 for a lifetime’s worth of supplies, no longer worrying about the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome or putting chemically bleached materials in their bodies, and ditching the constant contributions to the landfill. Not only are sustainable methods cost effective and convenient, but they can be hugely empowering on an emotional level as well.
Removing the stigma around menstruation could be one of the most helpful things that we can do. So we’re embarking on a two month trip to offer tangible alternatives and get people together to talk, learn, listen and share stories about one of the most intimate parts of our lives. These conversations are a doorway to honest and frank discussion about bleeding and how to cope with it. This person-to-person revolution aims to help people find empowering ways of handling their cycles while supporting a healthier planet and the movement for women’s empowerment that is taking place worldwide.
Our route includes (but is not limited to):
Key West, FL – Miami – Jacksonville – Savannah, GA – Charleston, SC – Wilmington, NC – Raleigh/Durham – Winston-Salem – Blacksburg, VA – Harrisonburg – Charlottesville – Richmond – Washington DC – Baltimore – Philadelphia – New York – Boston
You can also help by talking about these ideas with your friends and family, and by spreading the word about the project.