Absorbing UnTabooed

As of today, Period has officially absorbed UnTabooed, a nonprofit committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation by providing menstrual health education and reusable menstrual products to menstruators in need, and promoting the conversation among people everywhere. Since UnTabooed started in May 2015, it has educated over 600 menstruators with seven community and four college partners, and distributed over 1,000 reusable menstrual products for free to menstruators in need.

PERIOD will enable UnTabooed’s curriculum to grow nationally through their Campus Chapter Network, and UnTabooed will help grow PERIOD's support of sustainability in period product usage. Now, each PERIOD Campus Chapter is able to implement UnTabooed’s curriculum for their students, and in their community. We are doing this because we have felt too much in competition with fellow menstrual activists, and want to instead push forward as a more unified and amplified movement for social change. Together we can reach more menstruators through more channels in more areas locally and globally.

Here’s more about UnTabooed from its founder, Diandra Kalish:

Hi, I’m Diandra, the Founder and former Executive Director of UnTabooed.

I was inspired to start UnTabooed after reading an article from Al Jazeera about homeless women in my current home of New York City lacking adequate access to menstrual products. I was shocked, and also angered, that as a menstruating person myself, I had never even thought to donate menstrual products along with the bags of clothing and food I continuously donated.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how everyone should have access to this basic necessity, so I started to do research to learn more about the issue both in the US and abroad. I called around to shelters in New York City and the surrounding areas, and asked if they had enough menstrual products. Each one said they never had enough from donations. I also researched international organizations that provided both menstrual health education and menstrual products to girls around the world.

At this point I had been using a menstrual cup for about two years. Through my research, I learned of organizations that provided reusable menstrual products, both cups and cloth pads. I knew this was the solution I wanted to provide to women in need. Reusable products can be reused for five-10 years, are much more environmentally friendly, cost efficient, and have fewer health risks associated with them than disposable pads and tampons. Additionally, reusable menstrual products can help take the “ick factor” out of periods by helping people learn more about their bodies instead of automatically throwing away the products associated with periods. Instead of donating disposable products that would only last a cycle or two, it was important to me to offer a sustainable solution. By working with reusable products I would be able to give UnTabooed’s clients a product that helped the save hundreds of dollars, and diverted hundreds of pounds of menstrual product packaging and waste from landfills.  

In speaking with reusable menstrual product companies, I learned how important it was to educate about how to use and care for the products before distributing them. I realized that before you teach a person about a new product to help her manage her period, you should make sure she understands her period. It became clear that in addition to lacking products, many girls and women are also lacking crucial education about one of their bodies’ most natural functions.

UnTabooed was founded as an educational nonprofit, committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation by providing menstrual health education and sustainable menstrual products to women in need, and promoting conversation among people everywhere. Our one of a kind educational workshops combine the facts and FAQs of the menstrual cycle and reusable menstrual products, specifically menstrual cups and cloth pads. Since our first workshop in August 2015, we have worked with over 600 menstruators (and some non-menstruators), 450 of whom are homeless or low income. UnTabooed partners directly with shelters and community centers in low income areas because reusable products require consistent water access, so they are not a good solution for women who are strictly street homeless.

In December 2016, Nadya and I were finally able to meet face to face after months and months of emailing. The timing could not have been more fortuitous. I had just submitted applications for graduate school to get my Masters in Arts and Teaching, and was looking for a way to transition out of UnTabooed, and Nadya was telling me how Camions of Care was to be reborn as Period, which would include an Education pillar. We both know very quickly that we had met the other’s need.

I am thrilled that Period is absorbing UnTabooed. I know that Nadya and her team have the credibility and passion to propel the menstrual movement forward, while also continuing to serve UnTabooed’s mission with integrity and increasing UnTabooed’s reach tenfold. UnTabooed will arm Period with unique curriculum to spread through their chapters, and a way to bring reusable menstrual products into the conversation. As I move onto my new life at Brown University, I’m excited to watch UnTabooed grow through the powerful menstrual movement that Period is pioneering.