Periods - half the population will experience them at some point during their lives, and over a lifetime, the average menstruator will throw away around 11,000 single-use pads and tampons. Most of these contain plastic, with pads being the worst culprits:
A single pack is the equivalent to around four plastic bags.
That’s bad news for us: plastic never goes away, only breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, ending up in our seas and our rivers, polluting our world and killing our fish.
That’s where reusable menstrual products come in. I discovered the menstrual cup when I was fifteen, and after looking into it and learning about the benefits, I decided that I wanted to go for the plunge and try it. My mum wasn’t keen - it’d be too difficult, she told me, I wouldn’t be able to use one, I was too young. But, being the wilful teenager that I am, I bought one anyway.
It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to get to grips with, but after three cycles of trying, I got the hang of it.
And my period life has been TRANSFORMED!
I don’t have to worry about stocking up on pads/tampons each month, it takes up way less space when travelling, and I find it so much more comfortable - and, of course, I’ve reduced my waste massively. I’ll talk about reusable menstrual products to anyone and everyone who wants to listen (and even to those who don’t!).
But one thing that frustrates me is the lack of awareness about them, which stems from a lack of education - we’re not told about the alternatives to disposable pads and tampons, so many people don’t even know they exist. That’s why I decided to make raising awareness my BGF local project; it’s something I’m so passionate about!
As part of this project, I created a video explaining all about them, combining this with interviews from my friends using reusable menstrual cups and cloth pads. I submitted it to ConnectHer’s ‘Girls Impact The World’ film festival and managed to land a spot as a finalist in the ‘Green IS’ category, which included films aimed at solving an environmental issue.
This was my first time attempting to make a proper film - I’m a photographer, so while I know how to use a camera, my experience in filming and editing at that point was pretty much zero. Filming it entirely myself was a massive challenge - my camera doesn’t do autofocus while recording, so I had to be conscious of the fact that, if I moved too much, or didn’t focus in the right place, I’d be blurry. I made a pretty crucial mistake in using two different cameras - the frame sizes were not the same, so I ended up having to scale the smaller ones up to size, losing some of the quality. The whole editing process took longer than I expected, and my slow laptop struggled to cope with the size of the files, which only made it harder.
If you’re thinking about making a film, don’t wait until you have the ‘right’ equipment - the best tools you can have are the ones that you’ve got. Phone cameras have advanced so far, that it’s easy to capture decent footage with them. For this project, I used Premiere Pro, but the software that comes with your computer - iMovie for Apple products and Windows Movie Maker for Windows machines is all you really need. One thing I learned about after I created the video is that shorter films (30 seconds to one minute) tend to do better on social media platforms, so if you’re looking to make something that will create an impact, it’s better to film a project that fits in this time frame.
Along with creating a film for her BGF Local Project, Taryn has also been on her local radio (along with cohort 2 BGF-er Maud) promoting reusable menstrual products and also featured on Girl Up Norwich's podcast all about 'The Period Taboo' - listen to it here.