By Jess Benninger ’26, staff writer
Menstrual hygiene products can take 500 to 800 years to decompose.
Considering that nearly 20 billion menstrual hygiene products end up in North American landfills each year, these products leave a lasting mark on the planet. So, how can those with menstrual cycles work towards period-friendly environmental sustainability?
When Nivedita Dubey, a senior neuroscience major and social justice and civic engagement minor, learned about the significant impact that period products have on the environment, she decided to do something about it.
“I feel like the campus should be making at least somewhat of an effort to find more sustainable ways to incorporate [providing period products] because that is something that people use every day, and it’s something that is often overlooked,” Dubey said.
During the long periods of isolation for COVID-19, Dubey came across an online video that explained the extent to which period products harm the environment. The company that posted the video that Dubey saw, August, produces sustainable period products, and this is the brand that Dubey ultimately decided to use in her project. The video inspired Dubey to do her own research, but she concluded that converting LVC’s campus to environmentally-friendly period products was too big of a project for her to take on herself.
The opportunity to pursue this project arose when Dubey took LVC’s Service, Activism, and Social Change course in the fall of 2022. Dubey reached out to various departments on campus, such as student government, volunteerism, facilities, admissions and the health center, to begin coordinating the Period Power initiative. After being elected Equity Representative in student government, Dubey advocated for funding to be allocated to providing LVC’s women’s and all-gender bathrooms with sustainable menstrual hygiene products.
These sustainable products disintegrate after 12 months—only a fraction of the amount of time that it takes regular products to decompose. The tampon applicators are the only part of the products made with plastics, and these plastics are recycled to decrease further the amount of waste produced by each product.
In addition to providing sustainable products, Dubey has also placed educational flyers in each bathroom in academic buildings on campus to educate LVC’s community further.
“I wanted the posters to be everywhere, and I put them in men’s bathrooms, too, because I was like, ‘I know that you might not get a period, but you need to be educated.'”
These flyers have a link to a survey that is critical to the survival of this initiative—without responses, the college will not continue to fund the placement of sustainable period products.
Dubey hopes to have the LVC facilities department take over this project.
“If it’s a student-run [project], I’m afraid that after I leave—even after a couple of years—it’s going to die down. And if it’s in the budget of facilities payment and all that, [the initiative] would have guaranteed longevity,” Dubey said.
It can be difficult to spearhead a project that requires a large amount of time and coordination, but Nivedita Dubey took these challenges in stride. Reach out to Nivedita Dubey; Jen Liedtka, LVC’s service and volunteerism coordinator; or the Shroyer Health Center to learn more about the initiative or to obtain hygiene products.