Menstruation, Stigma and Sustainability

Dr Lara Owen
Prof. Bettina Bildhauer

School of Modern Languages

This project is concerned with the sustainability of menstrual products, and in particular explores how and to what effect the ongoing stigmatisation of menstruation is a factor in deterring some menstruators from disposing of products sustainably and/or from choosing to use reusable products, such as menstrual cups, cloth pads and period underwear.

This image shows a public toilet on a small island in the Orkneys. Inside the toilet is a box of single-use disposable period products provided free by the Scottish government following 2021 legislation making access to period products a universal right. Outside is a wilderness area with beaches polluted by such products, in particular by plastic tampon applicators, a significant source of marine litter identified as being of concern in a 2019 report by the Scottish government. This image demonstrates a failure to connect policy-making. Instead we have the irony of plastic disposables being offered free in a wilderness area itself.

Photographer: Lyn Hartman