Kitty’s 25 Birthday Wishes for Pads4Girls

February 13th, 2015 by Kitty

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During the summer of 2013, I had a chance to visit Destiny Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With the passion of serving the underprivileged, the school provides quality education to some of the poorest kids in the city. Through subsidized tuition (even full sponsorship for the neediest students), Destiny Academy goes above and beyond to support the children’s learning through after-school programs, meal programs, and computer classes. Since establishment, the school has grown rapidly from 25 preschool students to over 500 students!

Speaking with Hareg, one of the co-founders of Destiny Academy, she mentioned that many girls require feminine hygiene products in order to fully participate in their studies. Destiny Academy has been providing students disposable products, but with the high costs, it is hindering further expansion of the school so that more children can receive an education.

For the past two years, I have been doing birthday fundraisers to purchase pad kits for women and girls in Ethiopia. Being that this year I’m reaching my quarter mark, I want to make a bigger splash with bigger goals! I’d like to dedicate my 25th birthday to fundraise for pad kits for the girls of Destiny Academy.

Destiny Academy’s mission is to “help our students develop self-confidence, positive concepts, and the kind of character that will allow them to exercise their unique gifts and talents.” With the donation of pad kits, I wish to break down the barriers girls in Ethiopia face in completing their primary and highschool education.

To support the fundraiser, please direct your contribution to “Kitty’s 25 Birthday Wishes” — thank you!

Make Pads4Girls Donation at Tides Canada

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Periods: Blessing or Curse?

January 29th, 2015 by Madeleine

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The recent media attention over professional tennis player Heather Watson’s “girl things” allusion to the relationship between her recent performance at the Australian Open tennis tournament and having her period has opened up a fascinating and overdue public conversation about how periods and menstrual cycles affect us.

While I share many “pro period” advocates’ disappointment that she used a euphemism rather than “calling a spade a spade”, to dwell on this is to miss the larger point and opportunity to open up the conversation, explore new perspectives and dispel shame and misinformation along the way.

If I can tell you one thing after being in the menstrual product business for over two decades, it’s that our customers have wildly divergent experiences of their cycles and periods, which range from euphoric to awkward and even painful. But does this suggest in the latter case that we are somehow less capable when we menstruate? The recognition that periods aren’t always easy can lead to the facile, inaccurate and even dangerous assumption that they are a universal liability: how to acknowledge the former while avoiding the latter?

Here’s one perspective: menstruators and non-menstruators alike all have different types of days all the time: factors like how much sleep we get, our emotional state, common ailments like colds and headaches and so on, are just part of life. Do we prevent a pilot from working because of having a cold, for example? What about a surgeon who has a headache? A teacher who is emotionally distraught (or alternately, deliriously happy)? All of us have experienced these common conditions, and either kept calm and carried on or been transparent about the fact that they were part of our personal “mix” that day, as did Heather Watson when asked to comment on her less-than-hoped for performance.

Another aspect of this conversation that I want to call out is the conflation of periods and menstrual cycles as a whole. All too often, it’s overlooked that periods are just one phase of the menstrual cycle. When I consider the entire context of my cycle from start to finish, I notice that in the days following the end of my period I feel particularly energetic, creative and open to new ideas, toward mid-cycle more sensually aware, and toward the end more thoughtful and introspective. All of these slight variations and sensitivities in my state of being, depending on what else is occurring in my life, can actually bring meaningful benefit.

Given that menstrual cycles are among the most normal, healthy human physical functions, it makes sense to broaden our perspective to see how we feel when menstruating – or during other phases of our cycles – as simply one aspect or iteration of perfectly normal human experience, rather than anomalous. When viewed this way, we might start noticing how a burst of creativity or an introspective mood might be related to where we are in our cycle, possibly even in a positive way.

To summarize: let’s pay more attention to our cycles as a whole, speak frankly about what’s true for us, and not jump to universalization. And finally: Bravo, Heather!

What’s your experience of yourself as you move through your cycle? What impact does it have for you?

Kids, Kegels & Leaks oh my!

January 22nd, 2015 by Guest

1212_oag_marathon-photo-oldImage above (via David Davis) is of Mary Lepper (L) America’s first woman to run a full marathon. This guest blog post was written by Kim Vopni (@FitnessDoula) Founder of Pelvienne Wellness.

I grew up watching my very active mom curtail certain activities because her bladder leaked. She also had back pain much of the time and was constantly battling with a tummy that wasn’t the same since having my brother and I. From an early age I was convinced that I would never have children because they ruined your body! Thankfully I matured, chose to educate myself and was blessed to have children (now ages 10 and 8). In fact, it was my own prenatal education that led me to my current career!

At Pelvienne Wellness, I work with women prenatally to help them prepare their body for labour, empower them so they can optimize their birth experience and show them how to properly restore their core after baby arrives. In my practice, I place a strong emphasis on the importance of the pelvic floor and abdomen because they get little to no attention in traditional prenatal education: it has become my mission to change that. So many women find out about me after the fact: looking for ways to get their body back or address problems post partum. The two most common things I hear from my clients are ‘ever since I had kids I ….’ and ‘why didn’t anyone tell me about this?’

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For the love of “M.”

December 10th, 2014 by Madeleine

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A shining star of a person has been blazing her way across Vancouver and the Lunaverse for the past few years: we are sad to see her move on to other solar systems (namely California), however so grateful for the time that she was here with us.

The one and only “M.” (then known as World Hip Hop Mom Monica Morong) entered our orbit at a Living Extraordinary event in 2012 where Suzanne and I had been invited to share our story. She came up to our table afterward and instantly blew us away with her energy, enthusiasm and original vision. Who else, after all, would consider writing and performing a rap song about our products?

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FDA Compliance & The Cost of Doing Business

December 8th, 2014 by Suzanne

There has been a recent flurry of activity on the topic of FDA registration and questions from our customers about whether Lunapads are FDA compliant. The short answer is YES we have been compliant since 2001. Having looked into this subject closely for many years, I have this to add to the conversation:

Medical Device Categorization:

Cloth pads have been considered medical devices and subject to FDA compliance since the 1990’s. This is nothing new. Like many cloth pad manufacturers, we had no idea this was a requirement. Once we did, we went through the intense process of obtaining our 510(k) Premarket Notification and paying the Annual Registration Fee. More recently, we had to refile our submission because someone from the FDA noticed that our  product “classification” needed to be defined as “reusable”, a classification that didn’t even exist when we originally registered!

FDA and Regulation:

We think that it is important that organizations like the FDA exist to regulate products for the safety of the public. But, there is a cost to regulation and we regard the annual FDA registration fee as simply a cost of doing business. We don’t love the fact that this cost is beginning to exceed $4,000/year. It is no different than paying for product liability insurance (which costs us a lot more than the FDA fee!) These are costs of operating our business ethically and responsibly in the industry we have chosen to be a part of.

WAHM makers, we feel your pain.

I can relate to the pain that WAHM (“Work At Home Mom”), Etsy & other cloth pad makers are feeling now that they know about this fee. But, it feels only fair that all of us in this industry are treated equally and bear the same costs. We cringe at the criticism we often receive that Lunapads are expensive and told that one can buy cloth pads from WAHM brands for much cheaper. Well, now you know one reason why. Once all WAHM brands start paying these fees and building it into the price of the pads, it will level the playing field a bit.

And, please don’t forget that Madeleine and I are moms too: we sometimes work from home and sometimes work at the office. We are working hard to raise our families and struggle to pay our bills just like any entrepreneur. For more on this, see Madeleine’s post; Lunapads: big or small business?.

Safety & Compliance:

As feminists, while we don’t buy into the notion of menstruation being a medical condition and products like ours being medical devices, we know that menstruation is not always a simple experience. Many people have harsh reactions to certain kinds of menstrual products (such as rashes from pads) and are still reporting to the FDA the affects of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Institutions like the FDA are there for consumers to report adverse effects and hold to account manufacturers for compliance and safety.

Sign the Petition:

We support the We the People Petition to lower or eliminate cloth pads from the medical device classification. Cloth pads are in essence garments and should be exempt; indeed, it is what Health Canada has already told us. Why should the FDA feel differently? It is interesting to note that the FDA website specifically states “There are no reductions in annual establishment registration fees for small businesses or any other group.” Gee, thanks a lot. 

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While the petition gathers signatures, we will continue to be compliant with the FDA. We are happy that the level of consciousness has been raised on the issue and now hope that customers have a better appreciation for the challenges that businesses like Lunapads, Gladrags and other WAHM manufacturers face in running a small business.

25 years later: what has changed?

December 5th, 2014 by Madeleine

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I still remember arriving home from my then-job at a local university on December 6th, 1989 to find my parents glued to the television. What was happening, I asked them? “It looks like someone is shooting women students in Montreal: some crazy guy locked them in a classroom, told the men to leave and started shooting.” My knees buckled.

As a recent Women’s Studies graduate, campus anti-violence leader and rape crisis center volunteer, the news struck hard. This was different, though – until this point in my life, when I thought about gender-based violence (in this case against women), date rape and sexual harassment were top of mind: the idea that it could also express itself as mass murder stunned me.

I was among the appalled who witnessed how the Montreal Massacre (as it came to be called) of 14 female engineering students (14 other people were also injured) was subsequently portrayed as the act of a lone madman, extracted from any wider social context or responsibility.

I mean, here you are, faced with one of the most egregious and blatant examples of a massive and widespread social problem, and people were like, “It was just some random crazy dude.” Some random crazy dude who hated women, in particular those who dared to pursue careers in a male-dominated field. He told the male students to leave the room and locked the doors. And it’s not gender-based. Really.

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The Lunapads Holiday Gift Guide

December 4th, 2014 by Morgan

The name Lunapads has been synonymous with eco-friendly period products for over a decade, but in recent years we’ve expanded our product lines to include so much more! Carefully crafted and curated items that we personally use and love, and we think you’ll love them to! Here are our top picks for the holiday season – natural, reusable and sustainable gifts that will surely delight anyone on your list. Save 15% on these and other great gift ideas with discount code: NIFTYGIFTY

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For the yoga or fitness enthusiast
We all know that conventional deodorants and antiperspirants are loaded with questionable and unnecessary chemicals like aluminum salts, triclosan, parabens and synthetic fragrance compounds –  but finding a natural alternative that actually works is a daunting task. Sola Coconut Deodorant is the holy grail of natural deodorants! Its’ coconut oil-based formula wont leave you feeling sticky after applying, or stinky half way through the day. Pair it up with some 100% Organic Cotton Leggings from Maggie’s Organics for a truly sustainable workout.

For the Fashionista
Maggie’s organics cushioned crew socks in stylish stripes will keep their feet warm and comfy while they’re out pounding the pavement in search of the latest looks. ULAT dryer balls are a great way to shorten drying times on laundry – reducing your energy bill and environmental impact while keeping your duds static-free.

For the Desk Jockey
Office lunches can be a little sad. Brighten up someone’s break with awesome lunch bag accessories from Cuppow and Planet Wise. The Cuppow BNTO adapter turns an average canning jar into ultimate 2-compartment reusable container. Keep your salad and dressing separate or your yogurt and granola un-stirred. Nearly 20 million plastic sandwich baggies are thrown out every day in the US alone. Help them break the trash habit with Planet Wise snack bags. Available in 2 sizes, both lined with FDA food safe material and featuring a no-leak design. Throw in a Lunapads handkerchief as a washable napkin and their reusable lunch kit is complete!

For Mom
Give your mom the gift of a good night’s sleep. Using innovative Drylon technology, Lusomé sleepwear wicks away moisture, keeping you cool and dry for the best sleep ever. Did you know that keeping your feet warm helps you fall asleep faster? La Pinède sleep socks in luxurious Mohair will keep those tootsies toasty, plus they’re machine washable.

For the Stressed-out Sally
We probably all know someone who needs a little extra self care around the holidays. The Lunapads Therapy Pillow provides hot or cool relief for aches and pains, plus it’s soothing Lavender scent is sure to help them relax. Hurraw Vegan Lip Balm is made from only the best ingredients and keeps your lips soft without feeling greasy or grainy – the perfect way to turn that frown upside down.

For the Fence-Sitter

For your friend who’s still on the fence about this whole reusable menstrual products thing. You’ve ranted and  raved about it but they still can’t bring themselves to fork over the cash and save themselves from a lifetime of bummer periods. Now’s your chance to do it for them. No more pussy footing around (pun intended!) Get them anything from our One4Her department. Not only will they feel great about their new menstrual care routine, they can also feel good knowing that using Lunapads products helps girls in East Africa stay in school, and creates jobs for women in Uganda.

Save 15% on these and other great gift ideas with discount code: NIFTYGIFTY

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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!

melissaphoto1) 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.

2014-11-09-14.01.56-1024x764Thanks 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.

2014-11-09-15.30.25-300x224In 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

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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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