Could Your Tampon Help Save the World?

An Australian woman is helping save the environment and change the lives of girls in developing nations by selling bamboo sanitary products.

It's easy to look at your period as an inconvenient monthly guest, but even the haters tend to pop a Panadol and get on with it. 

For girls in countries like Uganda and Sierra Leone, however, a period is so stigmatised and sanitary products so inaccessible, that girls are opting out of vital opportunities, like school, to avoid the stigma.

One in 10 young women across Africa skip classes and drop out of school due to the shame and embarrassment associated with menstruation. In nations like Uganda and Sierra Leone, missing out on an education can leave young women vulnerable to sex trafficking and child marriage.

The stigma and embarrassment is only increased by a lack of sanitary products like pads and tampons, with many women using leaves and dirty rags to try and stop the bleeding. 

After hearing these stories, Melbourne-based entrepreneur, Roslyn Campbell, decided she'd try and raise money by imagining her life without her tampons, instead using scrounged materials in place of proper sanitary products. 

"Instead of using pads and tampons, I used the different methods each day that I'd heard the girls [in Uganda and Sierra Leone] were using. I used newspaper and sponges, I used an old sock, and leaves, and I tried to use bark, but when I pulled it off the tree there were little spider sacks in it," she told Lifestyle.

As it turns out, nothing makes you more grateful for access to pads like the prospect of having spiders near your vagina, and so Roslyn called an end to her experiment.

However, unsatisfied with the ongoing problem women and girls in poverty-stricken nations faced, Roslyn started a new goal: a charitable business. On theme with menstruation, and combined with her other passion of protecting the environment, Roslyn founded Tsuno, a brand of organic bamboo sanitary products. Hitting two birds with one stone, Roslyn's products reduce the impact of typically non-biodegradable pads and tampons on the environment, while 50 per cent of her profits go to supporting girls in developing nations.

Roslyn was studying industrial design at university when she was struck by the idea for her philanthropic new business.

"I was doing this compulsory class at uni about sustainability and the environmental and the social impacts of the products we would design, and I was introduced to some everyday throwaway products," she explained. 

"I started thinking, 'wow, [tampons and pads] are actually full of plastic, and we wear them for a few hours and then throw them in the bin and they go into landfill where they last for a really long time!'"

Since its conception in 2014, Tsuno has brought pads made from bamboo to the women of Australia, particularly around Roslyn's home state of Victoria.

In just two years, Roslyn has successfully partnered with One Girl, donating half of her profits to the charity, and also contributed 10,000 boxes of Tsuno products to Australian charities like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and various organisations that help homeless women and victims of domestic violence. 

Roslyn has started her expansion into the UK and Europe, and her next move is to branch into organic cotton tampons as well as the bamboo pads. 

She received authorisation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration this year, allowing her to legally sell the tampons in Australia, but is currently facing her final hurdle: funding.

To get the next stage of her business of the ground, Roslyn is trying to raise $45,000 on crowdfunding site, Pozible

She is currently less than $7,000 from her goal, with less than a week left to raise the money! (To donate to her campaign and help both the planet and women around the world, visit her page.)

To help her spread the word of Tsuno, Roslyn created the 'Break the Cycle' campaign to raise awareness about the impact of periods on girls' educations in Uganda and Sierra Leone. Adding the cherry to the sundae, Ros made this ad with the help of an all-female crew. Go, ladies! 

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