Menstrual Vending Machines: Why Free Period Products Matter

Today, the majority of people still think that it’s normal and acceptable for those who menstruate to have to carry around their own period products with them at all times. Yet, two global leaders in building healthy washrooms in the communities where we live, work and play – Citron Hygiene and Aunt Flow – are teaming up to shift public attitudes and spaces to being much more period positive.

Here’s the thing: 

Menstruating is as natural and uncontrollable as the need to relieve oneself – but the standards are completely different.

The majority of public washrooms outside the home, don’t offer free-vend menstrual products like pads and tampons, and most facilities are lacking when it comes to offering a dignified menstrual hygiene disposal option.

Why?
Well, the majority of us were taught not to talk about menstruation, and for those of us who menstruate, we were raised to carry our own supplies.

But, what if it was expected that we all carry around our own toilet paper, hand soap and provide our own water supply to create a hygienic washroom experience?

And, what if after using our toilet paper, we couldn’t flush it down the toilet – if instead, we were expected to carry it across the washroom to a communal garbage?

This may seem absurd, unconscionable…dare we say…unhygienic? 

Here’s the truth:
Washroom experiences outside of the home aren’t created equal. 

🩸But, good news is flowing. 

The movement to #FreeTheTampon, #AxThePinkTax and fight #PeriodPoverty is gaining momentum, promising that period dignity, free period products and inclusive menstrual hygiene facilities will soon become the norm. 

More companies, government agencies and educational institutions are now supporting this movement, and with increased advocacy comes increased action.

As part of this global effort to help build more period positive spaces around the world, Citron Hygiene is now partnering with Aunt Flow to ensure that high-quality menstrual products are accessible to everyone who menstruates.

It’s time to elevate the washroom experience for those who menstruate –  period.  

👉🏽 If you’re looking to help break the stigma around menstruation, fight period poverty or learn how you can take action to upgrade washrooms outside the home – then you’re in the right place.

In this article we:

  • Explain why tampons and pads need to be categorized as necessities not luxuries 
  • Outline the costs of period poverty and why period equity matters 
  • Help break the stigma 
  • Outline why creating period positive spaces benefit businesses 
  • Share how to deliver period dignity with Aunt Flow and Citron 
  • Invite you to join a growing menstruation movement 

Key Terms + Takeaways 

  • Menstrual hygiene refers to the physical, social, spatial and psychological resources, facilities, and products used to manage the collection of blood during menstruation and dignified disposal of menstrual materials.
  • Period poverty is a real and devastating issue faced by millions of menstruators worldwide. It describes inadequate access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities and menstrual health education.
  • The tampon tax or the pink tax describes discrimination and gender-based pricing on products intended for women. For example, essential items like toilet paper and health based prescriptions are tax exempt, whereas menstrual products are not, in many places.
  • Period positive is a movement dedicated to changing the social discourse around period equity, menstrual literacy and the future of menstruation.
  • Free-vend dispensers provide menstrual care products like tampons and pads for free in public washrooms outside the home. 
  • Citron Hygiene is partnering with Aunt Flow to combat period poverty, support period dignity and amplify the movement to create more period positive spaces outside of the home. 

 

Deliver Period Dignity with Aunt Flow 

To help amplify efforts around the world, Citron Hygiene is officially teaming up with Aunt Flow® to combat period poverty by creating more accessible public washroom facilities one space at a time. 

Aunt Flow provides a supportive and caring experience away from home by providing the essentials menstruators need free-of-charge. 

About Aunt Flow Vending Machines

  • Attractive and durable: front window tested to withstand high-traffic conditions
  • Manufactured to be sustainable—Aunt Flow pads and tampons are 100% organic cotton and produce 25% less waste than other brands
  • For every 10 products sold, Aunt Flow® donates 1 to menstruators in need
  • Offering tampons and pads so that users can choose what’s right for them

Reach out to us here at Citron Hygiene to inquire about how you can start providing Aunt Flow in your public washroom today. 

Pads and Tampons: Essentials for Normal Bodily Functions 

Period products are a necessity the way that toilet paper is essential to washroom hygiene

Menstruation is a normal and healthy bodily function for a significant portion of the population. 

Yet, despite how normal and common menstruation is, it’s stigmatised around the world. Menstruation should never limit anyone’s ability to go to work, go to school or enjoy time outside of their home. 

But here’s the thing:
When a menstruator is not able to access the products and facilities they need, they are left vulnerable, exposed, stressed and without essential hygiene needs to continue working, learning, playing or simply being present. 

Studies have shown that up to 70% of menstruators have missed school or work because of their period, and that their period prevents them from participating fully in social activities. 

86% of menstruators have started their period unexpectedly in public and didn’t have the supplies they needed 
Free the Tampons 

It’s not an expectation that when you’re out in public, you carry your own toilet paper roll, and public washrooms are mandated to provide the basic necessities for clean hygienic use, including toilet paper, soap and water. 

Yet, menstrual products like pads and tampons are currently held to a different standard. They are not a luxury, they are a necessity. In fact, pads, tampons and dignified menstrual hygiene disposal units are critical to menstruators  being able to continue living as usual while on their period.

Why Period Equity Matters: The Cost of Period Poverty 

The social, emotional, and financial costs of period poverty range from lost time at work, to life-threatening conditions.  

When menstrators don’t have access to the products they need, they are forced to resort to:

  • Staying at home to avoid risking unhygienic situations and public embarrassment 
  • Leaving where they are to find products in a store, from another menstruator or at home
  • Macgyvering a tampon or pad out of toilet paper 

Providing free pads and tampons isn’t just supporting a basic human right, it’s a small price to pay for the comfort and dignity of employees, customers, students and visitors to public washrooms. 

From stained clothes, to lost work time, public embarrassment and serious health risks, the cost of period inequity can be, quite literally, life-threatening. 

Nearly 22 million menstruators living in poverty in the U.S, cannot afford menstrual hygiene products, which they will need for at least one week of every single month.  This is period poverty. 

Furthermore, without the proper products or proper use of products, menstruators are at a risk of health issues including:

  • Vaginal infections including toxic shock syndrome (a life threatening condition)
  • Reproductive and urinary tract infections
  • Vaginal irritation and vulvar irritation 
  • Debilitating stress and anxiety 

Creating Period Positive Spaces Is Good for Business

Providing free pads and tampons isn’t only beneficial for those who menstruate, it’s also good for business.

By providing period products through free-vend solutions like Citron Hygiene, lost work hours can be minimized, school attendance can be increased, health and safety for all washroom visitors supported and anxiety-provoking moments reduced.

Demonstrating care and consideration for your colleagues, customers and washroom guests leaves a positive impression that will translate into positive reviews and word of mouth referrals. 

Staying ahead of the curve to provide inclusive and dignified spaces, means your business won’t be left catching up with new legislation and scrambling to access products and supplies that will be in high demand.

From Taboo to Tampon Freedom: Here’s How to Create Period Positive Spaces

Put periods first and start a new conversation about menstruation. 

It’s critical that businesses, the government, schools, thought leaders and menstrators around the world come together to talk about periods, break the stigma and advocate for period equity. 

While we’ve come a long way in the evolution of menstrual hygiene standards over time, today many aspects of menstruation, puberty, childbirth and women’s health are still taboo or stigmatized. Misinformation about menstruation and women’s health, along with inadequate resources, research and funding create unsafe spaces and put menstruators around the world at a significant disadvantage.  

It’s time to break the stigma, change the narrative and supply the essential products and facilities. 

Here are a few ways to begin building more period positive spaces:

  • Start with conversations – in the workplace, at home and with businesses 
  • Breakdown myths and misinformation – share research, stories and stats freely
  • Make period products available – go beyond accessibility and offer free-vend 
  • Elevate public washroom facilities – provide dignified menstrual hygiene disposal units 
  • Create inclusive spaces – remember, it isn’t just women who menstruate
  • Consider a period leaveListen to DivaCup explain their period leave policy

In Conclusion: Join A Growing Menstruation Movement

Moving from period poverty to period positivity is picking up steam legislatively, politically and socially, but there’s still more work to do. 

Here’s how you can join the growing movement and take action in your own workplace: 

  • Speak to your facilities manager or leader about upgrading the menstrual hygiene facilities in your workplace washrooms 
  • Share this article with your colleagues and leadership team 
  • Join the conversation online – follow @CitronHygiene @AuntFlow @PeriodMovement
  • If you’re visiting a public washroom outside the home or your workplace, leave a review that includes what the washrooms are like
  • Write or call your legislators – Did you know that five states have passed legislation requiring schools to provide free menstrual products to students? 
  • Contact us directly to learn more about how we can help elevate the washroom experience in your workplace. 

It’s by delivering more education, resources, products and partnerships that we can build more period positive spaces. 

Here at Citron Hygiene we are committed to elevating the washroom experience, one conversation, one social media post, and one free-vend machine at a time. 

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