Although we believe every day should be International Women's Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women*, we do believe that there are some spectacular women out there who deserve a special high five. Celia is definitely one of them.
We are honoured, therefore, when Celia agreed to write exclusively for our community, explaining the how and why she co-founded DAME, the first reusable tampon applicator. So grab yourself a coffee, sit back and be inspired, for this lady and her team are helping to turn "period shame" into a powerful, beautiful and sustainable movement.
"DAME is a sustainable period care brand on a mission to make periods positive, for women and the planet. They’re cleaning up the tampon industry, focusing on plastic waste, toxic chemicals and period shame.
The period plastic problem
100 billion period products are thrown away around the world each year, most of which contain plastic and cannot be recycled. Instead they hang around on the planet for centuries, breaking down into microplastics which end up in landfill and our oceans.
My co-founder Alec and I originally ran an online period subscription service delivering popular brands of tampons and pads to women around the UK. But we soon began to see the amount of plastic, chemicals and waste tied up in these everyday single-use products.
We realised that our business was contributing to the problem, and that the reusable options available on the market were only being used by a minority. So we stopped believing in the products we were selling and instead focused our efforts on speeding up the shift to more sustainable solutions, by creating a solution that was convenient and required little habit change. It was here that DAME was born.
Period products for the 21st Century
After 2 years of careful design, we launched D, the world’s first reusable tampon applicator. D works like a normal applicator, but you keep it for life. It gives you all the comfort and convenience, without the waste. By making the switch, a woman can save up to 12,000 disposable applicators from reaching landfill or polluting our oceans.
We also make our own organic tampons which are free from the pesticides and harsh chemicals often found in conventional tampons.
Turning the tide on plastics
To date, we’ve saved over 350 million pieces of single use plastic going to waste. And seeing the positive impact we are having first hand is epic.
We held an event last year for some of our DAME customers. It was amazing to hear their personal stories first hand about why they use our products, what they love about them and what we can do better.
Someone was telling us about her recent holiday in Sardinia where she was horrified to see such vast amounts of tampon applicators on the beach. The magnitude of the waste problem hit her but she struggled to make the switch away from applicator tampons. She felt so relieved when she discovered DAME and realised she could make a sustainable change - and she loved how easy it was to use.
Hearing these stories are the moments you really want to bottle up. They make it all worth it.
Purpose beyond plastic
We’re committed to reducing period plastic but our environmental credentials don’t stop there: all our packaging is recycled, recyclable or reusable. Our nifty sample tampon boxes which contain 2 of our organic cotton tampons are the perfect handbag size. They’re made from offcuts of our other packaging, ensuring that spare material doesn’t go to waste.
We also recently became climate positive which means we now remove twice as much carbon from the atmosphere than we emit, certifying as the first brand in the UK to get the Carbon Neutral Plus accreditation. We didn’t view this as a choice but an absolute necessity and strongly believe that businesses have a responsibility to address the pressing societal and environmental issues that we’re currently facing.
That’s why certifying as a B Corp was so important to us at DAME. It demonstrates to consumers that we are committed to using business as a force for good. It’s the only certification out there that measures a business's entire social and environmental impact. But the great thing is that B Corp standards now inform all our decisions and business practices.
In addition to sustainability, one of our key pillars is driving the acceptability of periods. Huge corporations have sold us period products through the narrative of shame, fear and discretion, rather than recognising periods as a natural, quite remarkable part of everyday life.
Conversations around periods are definitely starting to change but it’s not all smooth sailing. I’m continuously struck by some of the taboos that still shroud periods today and I’ve experienced some of the classic female-led female-product issues as a founder, particularly
from prehistoric male investors who felt our
space was too ‘niche’. 3.5 billion women might
Nonetheless after the success of our Kickstarter in 2018 and launch in 2019, we’ve secured nationwide listings with Waitrose and Boots as well as regionally with Planet Organic, As Nature Intended and Farmdrop...with more to follow very soon. We’ve got a Dezeen Design Award and a Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award under our belt and sold to women in over 60 countries, proving that we’re solving a genuine pain point for women.
Sustainable periods in the mainstream
I wish they’d covered women’s health as a continuous conversation at school. I had just one lesson and that was it. But our bodies are constantly changing at that age. Revisiting the subject every year is crucial to allow girls, and boys, to increase their awareness about what is happening and feel more comfortable.
I also wish we’d been taught about the more sustainable menstrual options, rather than just being handed a giant disposable pad. Cups and reusable cloth pads have been around for decades, but I only discovered them in my late 20’s, by which stage I was so institutionalised to the disposable products I’d always been using. Making the switch felt like a big leap.
At DAME we want to provide young girls with access to a full choice of products so that they can form sustainable period habits from the very start of their menstruating years. And prevent significant plastic waste in the process. We’re huge fans of the ReThink Period initiative that we support. It’s a nationwide programme in schools across the UK which aims to educate a future generation of girls about sustainable options.
At DAME we champion open, honest language around menstruation and we aim to design products that make you look and feel good, and that you’re proud to display on your bathroom shelf, next to your other preferred brands. We see this as a crucial step to normalise menstruation and take period products out of the bathroom cabinet, both metaphorically and physically.
Eventually, we hope to reach a reality where every woman has access to sustainable, safe, innovative period products and resources."
*taken from the International Women's Day official website