Sustainable Cycles works to catalyze a grassroots, person-to-person revolution away from single-use, disposable menstrual products to reusable, sustainable options. We want as many women to make the switch as possible, and for users to become advocates – “spokeswomen” – in their communities. We see our work as a feminist, social, and environmental justice project.
Toni Craige: email@example.com, Sarah Konner: firstname.lastname@example.org
PROJECTS: Our projects run the gamut from ridiculous stunts, to conversations, to creating excellent educational materials.
*Rediculous stunts aimed at getting the media spotlight on sustainable menstrual products.
- Our bike trip (Summer 2011): “Toni and Sarah bicycle down the West Coast, live on $4 a day, and talk to women about sustainable menstrual products.” Enough said… But here’s some details:
- Showing up at the set of Portlandia and demanding that a crew member give a menstrual cup to the director’s wife – maybe they would make an episode about us!
- Getting fans to write to Ellen DeGeneres asking her to put us on her show.
- Sending a menstrual cup to a prominent blogger (BikeSnobNYC) to get him to write about us on his blog.
- Create the “Handsome Young Man Project.” Send huge menstrual cup shaped beer goblets to the two best male sustainable menstrual product advocates.
- Our bike trip (Summer 2011): I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had about menstrual cups over dinner with strangers (haha). Of course, we also planned events at housing co-ops, activist spaces, and community health centers.
- North American Students of Cooperation Conference (November 2011)- Sarah tabled at the NASCO conference, starting conversations about how co-ops can support their members in making the switch.
- Law Students for Reproductive Justice Conference (February 2012) – Toni spoke on a panel an education about sexuality and reproduction.
- In life – even when we aren’t on a bike trip, we raise awareness by talking with friends, and doing informal info sessions.
- For our bike trip, we were sponsored by all three companies the make menstrual cups for sale in the US (The Keeper, DivaCup, and Lunette). They donated a total of 300 cups which we gave away during our trip. Many women are hesitant to make the investment in a product that is a little pricy, and that they are not sure will work for them.
- Those cups did not just disappear into thin air. We followed up with our giftees, providing troubleshooting guides, writing personal emails to answer their questions, and sending a survey which assessed their satisfaction with the products, and provided space for a narrative response on their experience.
- Educators regularly contact us to ask for educational materials and advice on spreading the word. We are working on creating an educators packet with samples of all three brands and a cloth pad, and other useful print-media education tools.
- Our article tells you the basics. It has been published in several newsletters and newspapers, and emailed to hundreds of people.
- Our resources page gives you access to more than you’d ever want to know.
Sarah is a dancer, yoga teacher, environmentalist, bike enthusiast, and menstrual cup advocate.
I found out about menstrual cups from a friend, but not until I was 20 years old! I felt like this incredible secret of freedom and joy had been kept from me for so many years! On a personal level, having a menstrual cup has made me love my body and my period and feel connected to it in a way I never was before when I was having to use all sorts of commercial paper products and spend money and contribute more trash into the world making me feel dirty and wasteful. Ever since I found out about menstrual cups I have worked to convince all the women in my life to make the switch. It is so important to me, that for any of my friends/ family who were unsure about it, I offered to buy them one, with the agreement that once they learned to love it they would one day buy a cup for someone else in a similar fashion. I have probably bought 10 menstrual cups for different women in my life, and convinced 20 or 30 more women to make the switch and buy one for themselves. I see this as my personal contribution to the beginning of this revolution. I have been doing this to contribute to the happiness of women that I care about, but also because I know that with every menstrual cup comes a very sizable reduction in paper product waste. After receiving a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan, I feel that those menstrual cups might be my biggest positive impact on the environment yet.
Toni is in massage therapy school in North Carolina. She studied dance in college, and continues to dance on the side. She plans to enter a dual masters program in Public Health and Social Work in the fall of 2013.
I am inspired to help as many people make the life-style change from single-use menstrual products to reusable cups as possible! This lifestyle change synthesizes many of my deepest values: responsible consumption and a more intimate and healthful relationship with our bodies. Most people who use a menstrual cup heard about it from a good friend. Maybe we can give people the support they need to make the switch: I believe that a person-to-person strategy can do something that print media and television cannot!
I began to use a menstrual cup in college, and it has improved my life multi-fold. As an active woman, I have the freedom to do the things I love without too much thought about when my period is due. In the three years I’ve used it, I have saved over $180, 600 disposable pads are not in the landfill, and I’m not grossed out by my body’s cycle. While at Berkeley, I had the privilege to participate in and create an incredible community of people where I could openly discuss any number of taboo subjects—reusable menstrual products included. Having friends to help and talk to made the switch from disposable products easier. Besides my academic studies, the bay area provided me an invaluable education in cooperation, activism, and critical thinking. Now that I’ve graduated from college, I have the time and opportunity to live the dream! To bicycle across the country and talk to people about waste reduction, women’s health, and conscious consumerism.
HOW WE GOT STARTED:
How the heck did you decide to go on that bike trip?…
Two years ago, after graduating from college, Toni and Sarah met at a dance festival in North Carolina and decided to ride bicycles from Albany, NY to Ann Arbor, MI— for the adventure, to see some world, to make connections to people, and to see where we got to without any plans. We set out for a 3-week adventure with a map, and the plan to live on $3 a day each. That meant lots of rice and beans on the camp stove, and depending heavily on the kindness of strangers. Each night we knocked on a stranger’s door and asked to sleep in the backyard. We connected with an amazing variety of people this way, and experienced human generosity and openness to strangers as we had never before.
So we had this idea…
to go on another bike trip, with more of a purpose: to bike down the west coast and talk to women that we meet along the way, make woman-to-woman connections and convince them to switch to using a menstrual cup. One-at-a-time spread this information to women who otherwise might never have access to learning about non-disposable menstrual options. It seems to me that the number one way this revolution grows is through personal testimony of friends-to-friends.