Words by Smiley Team
On a mission to alleviate period poverty around the world – as well as help reduce single-use plastic – Harry Gardiner came up with an idea.
He founded Trade to Aid, a nonprofit social business that sells reusable sanitary products, where the profits to help girls around the world have a better period.
"Being involved in education programmes in rural Ghana since 2014 highlighted to me the very real and negative effect period poverty can have both in school and at work,” Harry tells Smiley News, discussing setting up the social enterprise.
“Trade To Aid aims to address this huge issue by funding menstrual education and by donating pads to refugees in need of period products. We're a social business trying to help others have a better period."
Period poverty affects over 500 million women worldwide – and this means that they don't have access to enough feminine hygiene products, or menstrual education. It keeps girls out of school, women out of the workplace, and leads many to use unsanitary items during their period which can endanger their health.
As many as 3 in 10 girls in the UK struggle to access sanitary products, they say. In Sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO have reported that as many as 1 in 10 girls miss school during their periods. Many leave school completely after they have started to menstruate.
For every pack of Trade to Aid pads bought, the nonprofit donates a pack to someone in need – such as women and girls in refugee camps. All their profits go to funding menstrual hygiene sessions in West Africa. “Our aim is to fight period poverty, tackling misconceptions and stigmas surrounding menstruation in the process,” says Harry.
The reusable pads have a secondary purpose of reducing single-use plastic. The average woman uses over 15,000 menstrual products during her lifetime, it’s estimated. Most disposable pad brands are over 90% plastic and contain synthetic additives, many of which are damaging to both women’s health and the environment.
“Made of recycled and reusable materials, our pads are simple to wash and easy to reuse,” say Trade to Aid. “Reusable pads reduce waste, keep plastic out of landfill and away from the oceans."
Many women and girls switch to reusable pads because of their ethical benefits, but stick with them because they’re comfy, secure and highly absorbent.
“Together, we can combat period poverty and reduce the catastrophic impact that sanitary products have on the environment," they say.
SUPPORT: You can buy reusable sanitary products at Trade to Aid to fund menstrual education around the world.
DONATE: Donate to Period Poverty UK, a charity working to eliminate period poverty in Britain by 2025.