Scotland Leads the World in Ending Period Poverty — Doctor Suggests Alternatives to Disposable Sanitary Products
by Greum Maol Stevenson
Scotland has become the first country to make free sanitary products available to all, with the Scottish Parliament's unanimous passing of the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.
While describing this legislation as “Very progressive thinking to say the least,” Dr Tracy Taggart, an American trauma surgeon, would like to see less use of such products.
“Billions of women worldwide and through the ages have managed menstruation without commercially produced disposable products,” she said. “I haven't bought a tampon or sanitary napkin in 25 years. I make a tampon out of toilet paper. But there's a hundred other things you can do as well. Sponges, strips of cloth, commercially produced silicone cups and absorbent underwear are economical and environmentally friendly. Old socks work as well as Kotex pads. Rolled fabric strips can even be made into tampons.”
Dr Taggart said many women are not aware this is possible. “They think they must have tampons or sanitary napkins. These are luxury items, not even available in non-western society.”
But the problem is not just a lack of awareness. “Here’s the thing — I have explained and demonstrated construction of a toilet paper tampon to quite a few women, sharing it as a revelation and innovation that is economical, environmentally better than synthetic and plastic products/packaging and no one has even tried it. They couldn’t imagine not just buying the fancy disposable version.
“I’ve read a lot of historical books and here and there references to menstruation and its management came up. I’m sure in the time before commercial products, and in places they aren’t common, that knowledge is commonplace and passed along woman to woman.”