Social Justice

Changemaker Ella Daish launches online plastic-free period product donations

The initiative previously welcomed people to make donations in supermarkets but as thousands stay at home to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, the scheme has been made available for those shopping online

Big Issue Changemaker Ella Daish, a campaigner for the removal of plastic from period products, has teamed up with an ethical shopping platform to get high quality pads and tampons to people in poverty.

The Eco Period Box will be open online for the first time, meaning shoppers using Ethical Superstore can donate plastic-free products while they browse or at checkout.

For every ten products donated, two more will be added by the company – and it will go to Changing Lives, a charity across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands which is helping socially disadvantaged people get back on their feet.

The initiative ran in December 2018 and April 2019 with drop-off points stationed in 20 shops around the UK. Now it’s hoped that bringing the initiative online will mean the people who need the products won’t miss out while much of the country is socially distancing at home in light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Cardiff-based Daish, a former postal worker, was named a Big Issue Changemaker earlier this year for her campaign to get plastic removed from period products to ease the strain on the planet. Her efforts, including a petition which has been signed by more than 205,000 people to date, saw supermarket giants like Tesco stocking plastic-free period products. When the Welsh Government announced it would spend £2.3m on putting free sanitary products in all schools, it asked that councils spend 10 per cent of the cash on reusable products. But after getting wind of Daish’s campaign, Caerphilly Council decided they would spend the whole grant on plastic-free sanitary products. Now she’s campaigning for other local authorities across the UK to follow suit.

“I set-up Eco Period Box to address period poverty in a way that I feel truly benefits all,” the campaigner said. “Eco-friendly and reusable period products are not only better for the people using them, but also the planet. Everyone, no matter their situation, deserves a choice in what they use.

“The first two Eco Period Box campaigns collected over 4,000 items for various charities chosen by the shops involved. I had so many people get in touch wanting to make a donation online but they couldn’t at the time, but now Ethical Superstore has made it happen.

“I’ve always dreamed big since I first set up my petition, so we’re aiming to make a big impact for Changing Lives to help thousands of people. I’d love to grow the Eco Period Box even further and would love to hear from anyone interested in setting up their own. Let’s end period poverty together.”

One sanitary pad is estimated to be as bad for the environment as four plastic bags.

Pete Leatherland of Ethical Superstore said: “We love the idea of Ella’s Eco Period Box and wanted to bring it online to make it even more accessible. Our customers shop with us to make feel good choices and are passionate about ethical issues.

“Not only do we hope the initiative collects much-needed products for people who rely on the support of Changing Lives, we hope it helps to support Ella’s campaigning and encourage more people to buy plastic-free.”

RECOMMENDED…

Last month The Big Issue teamed up with period-poverty busting social enterprise Hey Girls to create the first mainstream magazine all about menstruation and period dignity.

Laura McIntyre, head of women’s services at Changing Lives, said many of the women the charity helps struggle to afford period products and that staff “see the detrimental impact it has on people’s wellbeing and dignity on a daily basis”.

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