We've got a period problem. Every year, billions of menstrual products are thrown away and can end up in landfills or the ocean, where they can take years — sometimes decades — to degrade. How do we update these products to suit growing environmental concerns without completely disrupting the routines and preferences of women across the world? That is the very question Dame founders Celia Pool and Alec Mills are on a mission to answer.
The UK-based startup company recently launched a Kickstarter to fund its reusable tampon applicator, simply called D. The applicator looks a lot like the typical tampons one might find at a drugstore, however, its self-cleaning technology makes it entirely reusable and eco-conscious.
In an interview with Fast Company, Pool said the applicator is meant to fit in with women's existing habits. "Moving over to something like the menstrual cup or a reusable cloth pad seemed like such a change in their habits," she said. "We just thought, there's got to be something in the middle that can be created that's not much of a leap — that women can identify with, and that women will use quite readily."
How does it work? The BPA-free applicator contains antimicrobials that actively help keep it clean. After each use, consumers are instructed to wipe down the product with clean toilet paper, quickly rinse it under running water, and store it in Dame's travel wallet or storage tin, which are included in each order.
Truthfully, the applicator looks pretty chic, too. Pool said, "One of the goals was to make something that looked beautiful, that looked well designed, that fit in with this modern woman who has all sorts of other technology in her bag." The dark green colour was ultimately chosen by the co-founders because they didn't want to "go down the pink and fluffy route," but they also didn't want the applicator to look like a sex toy.
Another brand aiming to revolutionise plastic period products is Thinx, known for its reusable period underwear. A year ago, Thinx announced it would be developing a reusable tampon applicator, called the Reta (reusable tampon applicator), made out of medical-grade silicone.
The Reta has yet to launch, and unfortunately, it might not even be for sale in Australia when it does. The same goes for Dame's D, which will need to reach its goal of $27,913 by March 29 to receive Kickstarter funding. Even then, it will only be available to people in the UK.
Though obstacles lie ahead, both brands are attempting to decelerate a growing problem while also taking into consideration women's preferences and the processes they've used for centuries.