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Could Your Tampon Help Save the World?

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

While many young women in Australia tend to look at their period as an inconvenient but necessary monthly guest, most of us tend to pop a Panadol and get on with it. 

Yet, in countries like Uganda and Sierra Leone, periods are stopping girls from going to school - an opportunity which can mean the difference between a life of poverty or stability, or the chance a girl will become a victim of trafficking or child marriage. 

Yet, one in 10 young women across Africa are skipping classes and dropping out of school due to the shame and embarrassment associated with menstruation. In many of these instances, girls don't have the sanitary products to control their bleeding, often risking infection through the use of leaves, bark, paper or sponges in place of pads. 

After hearing these facts, Melbourne-based entrepreneur, Roslyn Campbell, tried to raise money for girls in Uganda and Sierra Leone by replacing her pads and tampons with scrounged materials. She officially called an end to her experiment after discovering a piece of bark she intended to use as a pad was full of spider eggs.

"Instead of using pads and tampons, I used the different methods each day that I'd heard the girls were using. So I used newspaper and sponges, and I used a clean, 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.

"I thought, 'I'm definitely not doing this anymore, this is enough!' but that was [otherwise] really motivating!"

Roslyn runs a company called Tsuno, a brand of natural sanitary products that raises money for the charity One Girl. Her goal is to both reduce the impact of non-biodegradable pads and tampons on the environment, while supporting girls in developing nations by donating 50 per cent of her profits.

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!'"

Tying together her charitable desires to help both the environment and young women, Roslyn came up with Tsuno.

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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