In Spring of 2019, NAU made a groundbreaking stride forward in sustainability and women’s health advocacy by offering 1,200 free menstrual cups to the student body. This project, spearheaded by the Green Fund, was an ongoing collaboration between NAU’s Health Promotion Office, the Honors College, and Dot International. Dot International is a company that produces menstrual cups with the purpose of empowering women around the world. For every Dot cup purchased, the company will donate another Dot cup to a woman who lacks easy access to feminine hygiene products.
Providing free menstrual products has been an idea that many universities around the country have implemented. However, offering free menstrual cups to a student body is something that virtually no other institution has accomplished. It’s estimated that each menstruating individual generates about 300 pounds of waste using only disposable products. That means that if all 1,200 of the menstrual cups were distributed to and used by students, it would prevent 3,600 pounds of waste from ever entering the environment!
Research also indicates that menstrual cups can provide increased health benefits as well. Tampons are made of cotton, which absorbs the natural moisture present in the vagina. This can interfere with the normal pH level of a woman’s body. Tampons are also often made with chemicals, such as bleach, which can leach into the body via the mucous membrane in the vagina. The chemicals have been linked to unpleasant health effects, such as cancer. Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone, which is a naturally occurring element (it is also what glass is made of!) so they are a more natural alternative. They can also be reused for several years, making them a much more sustainable and inexpensive option when compared to pads or tampons.
The menstrual cup project idea was initially proposed in Spring of 2018 by a former Green Fund member. The project was then picked up by the current Green Fund Vice Chair, Janice Baldwin-Rowe. After coordinating among different departments, the Green Fund approved funding for the menstrual cups in February of 2019. The menstrual cups are currently available in the Health Promotion Office for pick-up, and will continue to be available as long as supplies last. In order to procure a menstrual cup, students just need to visit the Health Promotion Office, fill out a quick survey, and pick up an informational packet.