Meet the Lunapads Ambassadors: Melissa

November 17th, 2014 by Guest

We started our Lunapads Brand Ambassador Program over a year ago and are so grateful for the fabulous ambassadors we have all over Canada and the US spreading our mission and sharing our products with their communities. We started the program to nurture the special relationship we have with our customers and to support them in creating a community around them to hold space for body positivity, self-love, personal growth, and social change.

Here is an interview with one of our inspiring Ambassadors: Melissa!

melissaphoto 254x300 Meet the Lunapads Ambassadors: Melissa1) How did you find Lunapads?

I found Lunapads just through a search engine. About five years ago, my fertility doctor had suggested that I quit using tampons, due to my endometriosis, and I was very unhappy about switching to pads. They felt disgusting and I was having a terrible time adjusting to them. Somehow, I came across the Lunapads website and I was in awe. I had never heard about anything like that, ever (and I’m a fairly “crunchy” person)! I immediately ordered a few to try them out.

2) What is your first experience with cloth pads?

I convinced a friend to try them with me, so we both ordered our first reusable pads together and compared notes for those first few periods where we were learning to use them. I found them to be “bunchy” at first, because I was used to relying on the adhesive of the disposable pads to hold them down. My friend reminded me that this wouldn’t be the same, but that it would still work. Having that person to talk to really helped. We gave each other ideas about how to handle and launder the pads.

3) Why did you want to become a Lunapads Ambassador?

I was so excited when Lunapads launched this program! I have always wanted to share the idea of reusable pads with others, because I personally believe that they have helped my health. However, I had no idea how to share that kind of information! I didn’t know how to broach the subject with my circle of mom-friends, and I certainly didn’t want to post things about my period on my Facebook wall for my dad, grandpa and uncles to see!

Besides helping me to share something that I feel passionately about, I felt that this Ambassador program was perfect for me because it wasn’t a sales job, but there was the potential to earn money. There was only the smallest initial payment on the kit I had to buy – but if things didn’t work out, then I figured I would simply add the kit to my personal collection of pads.

As a stay-at-home mom of three toddlers (adoption + IVF twins), my funds and my time are precious resources. I have very little spare time or money, so this program was perfect for me.

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Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sheros

November 13th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s not every day that you get to meet one of your all-time heroes, but it happened to me just last weekend when journalist Stephanie Nolen was briefly in Vancouver.

2014 11 09 14.01.56 1024x7641 300x226 Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sherosThanks to my Mother’s influence I have been a Globe and Mail reader for most of my life. Stephanie’s writing first came to my attention when she donned a hijab and headed to out to cover the invasion of Afghanistan and fall of the Taliban.

Her knack for illustrating a macro-truth based on one person’s story immediately moved me, as well as her particular interest in the situation of girls and women. She was my kind of hero: brave, hugely talented, social justice-minded and up for adventure. As I said to Suzanne at the time, if I wasn’t already lucky enough to get to be me, I’d want to be Stephanie.

Speaking last weekend at a gathering hosted by 60 Million Girls, a Canadian charity that takes its name from the number of girls deprived of education in the developing world, Stephanie chose to focus on the story of some remarkable students and one determined activist at two unique schools in rural Bihar state in Northern India, taking as her starting point how “laughter and dignity”, as much as careers, independence and a wealthier and healthier life, are what girls miss out on when denied access to schooling. (The full story, including multiple feature articles and audi slideshows, are here.)

It was a point that landed well with the audience of seasoned leaders, educators and philanthropists already well aware of the benefits of educating girls. Stephanie first encountered the Prerna School for Mahadalit girls and its intrepid founder Sudha Varghese thanks to a tip from a friend. Following a lengthy search, she finally pushed open an unassuming gate and witnessed a rare sight in rural India: a green schoolyard of laughing, playing girls. The girls greeted her with a polite salutation before carrying on with their games, itself highly unusual for a tall, lone, female foreigner who typically drew curious crowds, not to mention low-caste girls, who would normally have shied away.

2014 11 09 15.30.25 300x2241 300x228 Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sherosIn and of themselves a rarity in India in general, these particular schoolgirls were an especially unlikely find, being as they are from the bottom of India’s caste system (“Mahadalit” basically translates as “lowest of the low”). “These girls have basically lost the global lottery,” in terms of social privilege, she explained, and was astounded to find an entire school dedicated to nourishing and educating them.

She went on to share Sudha’s story of determining to become as nun as one of the few ways to lead an independent life as a woman, learning of the plight of the Dalit people (also commonly known as “untouchable”) and determining to do what she could to support the most marginalized among them: girls.

Prerna means “inspiration”: the name of the school she founded on a shoestring in 2006, and inspiring indeed is the tale of how one woman has singlehandedly created two schools that now house and educate almost 200 girls. One of the most striking curriculum items is karate, a program where the girls have excelled to the point of winning local, state and even competitions in Japan!

Despite this extraordinary success, there are still massive challenges to be faced: often Prerna students are forced to get married when they return home to see their families, a common practice among their unschooled peers. Stephanie explained that while to Westerners the technically illegal practice of marrying off girls under 18 (most are married by the time they are 13) seems patently barbaric, to their parents it is doing their best to protect their daughters’ futures. Furthermore, while the Prerna girls may be getting an education, the rest of their society still sees them as inferior by virtue of both class and gender: what opportunities will they realistically have?

Lakshmi wants to be a judge, and Gunia, a teacher. Thanks to people like Sudha and Stephanie, they are far closer to those worthy goals than they ever would have been otherwise. Here’s hoping that they are the tip of a massive landslide of educated girls who fulfill the promise of the “Incredible India!” tourist billboards. Oh and hey: it only costs $200 to support one of Sudha’s students for a year. Email Stephanie if you want to help: snolen@globeandmail.com.

 

Margaret Cho Rocks Lunapads

November 7th, 2014 by Suzanne

lunagalscho 1024x882 Margaret Cho Rocks Lunapads

Madeleine and I have a lot to be thankful for for these days. One of the #1 reasons Lunapads has been a success is due to the hard work, dedication and brilliant minds behind our team. So, when I heard that Margaret Cho was coming to Vancouver, it seemed like a great way to thank the gang for their efforts and go on a Lunapads Staff outing! We adore Margaret for her fierce talent and vocal support of women and LGBTQ rights. Plus, she’s kick ass funny as hell.

Leading up to the event, we used Twitter to reach out to Margaret, who is not shy about talking about vaginas and periods. We wondered “does she know about our products” and “is she a fan”? We could only hope. She replied to one of our tweets with the hashtag #giftbasket. Ready with a gift basket full of Lunapads goodies, we wondered “How will we get it to her? Will it happen during the show”?

The big event finally arrived, and we eagerly gathered in our seats. The opening act featured actress/comedian/dancer Selene Luna, who immediately treaded into a topical conversation about sex and consent. Right now in Canada, we are reading stories daily about the evolving scandal around Jian Ghomeshi. As uncomfortable as the subject and jokes were, both Selene and Margaret shared very personal stories about their own experiences of sexual abuse and expressed their anger against those who perpetrate violence.

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This post was reposted from the DivaCup.com blog by Sophie Zivku.

20140916 172854 1024x768 One4Her provides basic needs to the Pader Girls Academy

On October 11th, organizations from around the world will come together to draw awareness to International Day of the Girl. This day is set aside each October to advocate for the basic needs and rights of girls and to encourage participation in efforts to help girls reach their full potential.

Diva International works with various organizations to help ensure that all girls, no matter where they live, have access to basic rights – food, clean water, shelter, education and hygiene (including access to feminine hygiene protection). Since 2000, one of our partners, Lunapads has been providing girls with sustainable period care through their Pads4Girls program. Period care is a necessity for women and girls, but is often not accessible due to poverty and limited resources.

This past spring, Diva International Inc. partnered with Lunapads in support of their One4Her program in recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day. We committed to donate an AFRIpads Kit (complete with 2 pads with 5 inserts, plus 1 carrying bag) for every DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com during the month of May. Each kit provides a girl with a sustainable supply of cloth pads to manage her period for over a year.

Thanks to our Divas, we were able to pledge funds that totaled 443 kits to girls in need!

This summer Lunapads received a request from Maggie Crosby, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, in the School of Public Health, who was working at the Pader Girls’ Academy (PGA) in Uganda. Knowing about Lunapads and their One4Her program, Maggie requested a more comprehensive AFRIpads for the 250 young mothers at PGA that also included underwear (most girls don’t even own a pair) and soap. After reviewing Maggie’s request, Lunapads and Diva International were pleased to use the funds raised from the Menstrual Hygiene Day One4Her campaign to send 250 comprehensive AFRIpad kits to the young women at PGA.

PGA helps child mothers by making it possible for them to bring their child with them to school. This is unique in Uganda, as often child mothers are stigmatized and going back to school is not an option for them. A survey was conducted to see what the girls would need when it comes to self-care and hygiene and most of the girls requested soap, underwear and pads.

Such basic needs.

The young girls who live at PGA have been victims of rape, coercion or abduction (due to Uganda’s 25-year civil war). At PGA they have been given a rare opportunity to continue their studies while raising their babies in a safe place. These are strong young women who have overcome many challenges, and who are learning to advocate for themselves and their families.

The following is a brief recap from Maggie about how your support of the Menstrual Hygiene Day One4Her campaign has helped women at PGA live better, healthier lives.

unnamed 4 231x300 One4Her provides basic needs to the Pader Girls Academy

What do the young mothers currently use to manage their period? How does it affect their schooling when they have their period?

Most girls at PGA use rags or old t-shirts to stuff in their underwear during their period. They do not have any money to afford disposable pads and many cannot even afford underwear. Because of this, if their period soaks through their clothing, they may skip classes to avoid the embarrassment. Each student that I asked about this issue during my time at PGA this summer replied that their lack of hygiene necessities negatively impacts their studies. When asked “what information or resources, relating to sexual and reproductive health, would be most useful to you?” the number one response was “pads”.

The effect of menstruation is so stigmatising on the young mothers. Many of the girls often disassociate themselves from the rest of the students until their period is over, which has a big impact on her performance at the end of the term.

How will life improve for them to have the kits?

Owning reusable pads, underwear and soap will have a positive impact on the lives of PGA students. These young women have been robbed of their innocence and their agency – poverty happens to them, sex happens to them, pregnancy happens to them. Possessing the necessary resources for dealing with their periods will provide them with a measure of control over at least one aspect of their life.

Having the kits will also save the girls from a number of negative outcomes of menstruation (a) worries during periods, (b) use of unclean clothes during periods, (c) further infections during periods as a result of using dirty clothes. This will lead to improved performance of the students at school as such better ground for sustainability of the school.

What are their hopes and dreams in going to school?

Students in the vocational training program hope to become seamstresses, to work in hotels or restaurants, or to start their own bakeries or catering businesses. Secondary school students mostly aim to continue their studies in nursing or teaching. They want to be nurses to provide adequate support and care to young mothers and they want to be teachers they can encourage girls to enrol and complete both primary and secondary education. One student told me that she hopes one day to be a member of parliament.

While we still have many girls who are blocked from attaining their educational career due to re-current pregnancies, most girls who have attained admissions at schools demonstrate commitment in their studies.

Help change a young girl’s life by donating to Pads4Girls or shop to support One4Her today!

unnamed 2 1024x768 One4Her provides basic needs to the Pader Girls Academy

A history of pretty.

September 17th, 2014 by Guest

Reposted with gratitude from Textile Artist Amy Meissner‘s blog, Spontaneous Combustion.

You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’  — Diana Vreeland

 A history of pretty.

“Girl Story 2: How it could be.” Cotton, silk organza overlay, vintage domestic linens, ink, hand embroidered, hand quilted, 2014. Chosen for the show “QUILTS=ART=QUILTS”, Schweinfurth Art Center Nov. 2, 2014 – Jan. 4 -2014. Auburn, New York.

This is a brave post. If you’re squeamish about blood or the magic of women or the power of accepting the physical, then you may wish to pass. But if today you felt a moment of powerlessness, or your own lack of bravery or a body disconnect, then I encourage you to read on. Maybe there’s something here for you.Around 1995-96 I worked for 6 or 7 months in a small garment factory for a woman named Madeleine Shaw. A young entrepreneur with a mind for social and environmental change and what I still believe to be a f***-ing strong business plan, I think of her as the first woman who showed me the power of the feminine. We sewed tiger striped fur coats and sheer blouses for her teeny storefront, generated patterns and garment samples for young fashion start-ups who didn’t have factories of their own, produced mountains of velvet berets for Ooh La La Hat Company (this is how I still know the average head is 22″ around), and we made thousands of washable menstrual pads for Madeleine’s then-fledgling company, Lunapads International. (It was just “Lunapads” then. It wasn’t international yet, but soon would be).

Again, that’s washable menstrual pads.  As in, menstrual pads. That. You. Wash. As in, look, here is the blood you deal with. And wash. And care for. Remember, this is brave stuff, so you either have to lose the squirminess and all that BS you’ve been carrying around about what it means to be female and make the choice to continue reading, or not.

It’s cool.

Click.

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KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

July 30th, 2014 by Madeleine

Sarah Hadden is a former teacher and the US Director of the KURA project, an organization that supports literacy in Northern Kenya.

After traveling to Kenya in 2010 and again in September 2012, I witnessed the sad state of affairs in the schools in Samburu, Maasai Mara and Nairobi.

As a former teacher, it broke my heart to see children deprived of an education for lack of funding. I was told that conditions in the north were far worse with the majority of the population being deprived of an education due to extreme poverty. I soon met Kura Omar, a local resident, who helped me understand even more the great need for assistance. Kura grew up in northern Kenya so he is very aware of the hardships and needs of the people living there.

kura1 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

Upon returning to the United States, I started The KURA Project (Kids Uniting for Rural Africa), naming the program after Kura, in order to raise funds for school supplies for these underserved students in northern Kenya.

Since its inception the Kura Project has delivered supplies to 11 primary schools in Northern Kenya. These deliveries included items the teachers requested, such as pens, pencils, geometrical sets, story books, rulers, graph books, dictionaries, composition books, exercise books, text books, crayons and sanitary towels(pads). Kura generously donated his time and effort to deliver these supplies to schools in the north.

After delivering supplies to several of the schools, and receiving letters of thanks for the donations, a common theme appeared. Each letter and sentiment passed on through Kura expressed appreciation for sanitary towels. Many girls are deprived of an education because of the lack of this basic necessity. Many girls must remain home during this time and risk the danger of being married off for cows at a very young age.

In 2012 The KURA Project began raising money for AFRIpads menstrual hygiene kits. These reusable sanitary pads last the girls and women up to one year, keep them in school and allow them to go through their monthly cycle with dignity.

kura8 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

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Hello Flo’s Unhappy Period Party

July 2nd, 2014 by Madeleine

helloflo first moon party period commercial1 Hello Flos Unhappy Period Party

Monthly subscription period providers Hello Flo have done it again, creating yet another provocative and hilarious video about menarche, the sequel to last summer’s hit “Camp Gyno“.

For all of its gumption and hilarious one-liners, the new video also made me a bit sad. Maybe it’s because I’m still coming down from an incredible high with the successful launch of G Day on April 28th. While not explicitly a “First Moon Party”, G Day was definitely a rite of passage celebration for adolescent girls, inspired by my desire to have the specialness of menarche honoured in my own life back in the day. It was so amazing to see 250 girls together celebrating this uniquely magical time of life: watching them revel in it was one of the highlights of my life.

The Hello Flo video troubled me not so much for its problematic portrayal of mother-daughter relations, as NPR commentator Laurel Dalrymple explores in her poignant article, Meanstruation: HelloFlo’s Mother-Daughter War is Funny, and Sad (although I can absolutely see where she is coming from on that front). At the root of this, for me at least, is some resentment that the idea of a menarche celebration is being mocked, making yet another hefty contribution to the period-as-joke trope. Jokes can lead to shame, and shame is the last thing that any of us, particularly girls, need: they’re getting enough BS messages about their bodies as it is. The subtext  of the video seems to be: what could be more dreadful than your Mom organizing some form of celebration of the onset of your period?

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It’s often said that the best things in life can take time, and that relationships are everything. In the case of a unique new tactic that supports education for girls in the developing world, these old adages are more than true.

rmf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!I was initially contacted online by CottonTales and Transformation Textiles founder Rachel Starkey in the early 2000s, connecting over our shared interest in washable pads. We met in person for the first time in 2003 in Vancouver, when Rachel had returned back to Canada for a family visit from her home in Alexandria, Egypt. Little did I know at the time that our relationship would span decades and continents.

Over the years we have met up in Las Vegas as well as Egypt, every time going deeper on the idea of using mass-scale garment manufacturing to create mass-scale reusable panties and pads to support girls education in the developing world.

Having identified the need for underwear as a key component to the success of the adoption of cloth pad use, together we created an easy-to-make pattern for adjustable-sized panties that could be made from factory offcuts. The process of using leftover wasted fabric and turning it underwear is where Transformation Textiles gets its name.

The panties have small strips of fabric in the gusset that can be used to hold simple cloth pads made of a combination of absorbent and waterproof fabrics, which can then be washed and re-used for years without creating disposable waste. msf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

We got an ideal opportunity to test the products when I was approached by Canadian Anna Ebert of Good Hope Ministries in 2012, who had been working for many years in Malawi and had identified the need for personal hygiene supplies and requested enough for a staggering 50,000 girls. Until that point, Pads4Girls donations had been at most 500 kits at a time.

We settled on 10,000 kits as an initial test run, and set out to raise funds to cover shipping a container from Egypt to Malawi. The final landed cost per kit, each of which includes 3 pairs of panties, 9 pads and a carrying purse, is $5. Lunapads reached out to our community and raised $12,500, including $500 from our friend Danielle LaPorte, a highly influential author and speaker.

Celebrity support also came via talk show host and filmmaker Ricki Lake, who referred us to Marie Da Silva, Ricki’s former nanny. In 2002, Da Silva, a CNN Hero award recipient, founded the Jacaranda Foundation, a Malawi-based orphanage and school.

In an email response to my inquiry about the need for hygiene supplies at Jacaranda, Marie enthusiastically shared: “This is so amazing, because just last week I sat in a class of teenage girls who were being taught by a German volunteer about hygiene during their menstrual period. Remember these girls are orphans and do not have any kind of income to even buy the new piece of cloth. We have 400 Orphans at our school and 50% are girls. Most teenage girls in secondary school. Two days later I received your email and forwarded it to Julia who is the German volunteer. We could not believe it. There must have been some Angels listening in that classroom.”

group Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

Rachel set to work to make the kits, however because of political unrest in Egypt following the revolution of January 2011, the shipment was delayed by almost 2 years. At last the shipment has arrived in Mzuzu, Malawi earlier this year, and the distribution process has now begun! Thank you everyone who has been part of this amazing project, and stay tuned for more stories as the pad/panty kits are distributed throughout the remainder of 2014.

 

Why #MenstruationMatters to us at Lunapads

May 28th, 2014 by Lunapads Team

mm Why #MenstruationMatters to us at Lunapads

You know that you’re really getting somewhere when there’s an “official” day about your cause. For us, that day has finally arrived!

According to their website, Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) “will help to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.”

After over 20 years of trying to get this simple yet woefully underrepresented message out into the world, I am so thrilled to hear this. Our friends at WASH United are behind this excellent initiative, complete with all the bells and whistles to propel the issue to worldwide attention: an infographic, Action Toolkit, and social media campaign: #menstruationmatters.

In the spirit of the day, we thought that we’d address why #menstruationmatters to us at Lunapads. Here are a few of our thoughts:

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Holistic Cramp Relief Tips

May 16th, 2014 by Guest

We know what it feels like to get crampy… and crabby. It’s just not fun. We know how tempting it can be to fall into the old trap of popping a pill, and while that might be a temporary quick fix, it is also very taxing on your body. So why not get to the bottom of the problem and eliminate them altogether? Our friends Dr. Emily Lipinski ND and Holistic Nutritionist Gabriela Delano-Stephens from Period Makeover are here to help!

cramps Holistic Cramp Relief Tips

UNDERSTANDING CRAMPS

In medical terms, severe cramping is referred to as dysmenorrhea, but we will just stick with cramps. During ovulation (mid cycle) a biological chemical substance called Arachidonic acid is released leading to the production of specific prostaglandins (PG). These are naturally made in your body to mediate a myriad of physiologic effects including helping to regulate the contraction of smooth muscle tissue found in the uterus, but unfortunately they can also be responsible for cramping.

This is because there are a number of different types of PGs, and some, such as PG2 and PGF alpha which are pro-inflammatory, stimulate uterine contractions, which cause cramping. With each contraction, oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus is cut off as the blood vessels in the area are pinched. When the uterus loses oxygen for a few seconds we feel pain. Note that not all prostaglandins are inflammatory! Some prostaglandins such as PG1 and PG3 are anti-inflammatory and are very beneficial for your cycle. However, the aim is to decrease the production of arachidonic acid leading to the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Basically:
↑ Arachidonic acid = ↑ and PGF alpha = ↑ uterine contractions = ↓ oxygen = CRAMPS!

Note that, besides excess PG2 and PGF alpha production, there are 3 major causes for cramps.

• First and foremost, is just the mere fact that you are getting your period! Your uterus begins to contract to dispel the uterine lining and blood, and you can feel this process taking place. Most of us would be ok will a dull ache, however severe painful cramping needs to be addressed with diet and lifestyle changes or ruling out another underlying cause.

• Those of you with an IUD likely experience much worse cramps due to the ‘invasive’ device, when your uterus contracts you can feel the device as it is pressed against the uterine walls.

• The third reason can be attributed to endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids in which case you would likely experience pain during sex, pain when you have a bowel movement, or experience abnormal vaginal discharge, if this is the case please consult with your doctor.

HOW DO WE STOP THE CRAMPING CYCLE?

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