Eco Femme is a global initiative to empower women. Growing from rural India, reaching out to people around the world, they are encouraging and revitalizing healthy, dignified, sustainable, and eco-positive menstrual activities. Based in Tamil Nadu, India, it was established in 2010. Their non-profit outreach work is carried out through Pad for Pad and Pads for Sisters, with collaborations and organizations based in different states in India. As menstruation is an experience that transcends culture, gender, and caste, they work in every step of their work to bring about social change and ecological knowledge.
They seek to create a truly holistic approach to menstruation through integrating ethical business practices, production processes that engage rural women as cloth pad producers and culturally sensitive, life-affirming education about the menstrual experience.
Kathy Walling is the Co-Founder of Eco Femme
Kathy personally experienced the shift from disposables to using cloth washable pads in 1999 as a revolution. She was so excited by this discovery that she became fanatical in her efforts to encourage other women to make this shift too. This passion was further ignited when surrounded by the natural beauty of Auroville which fuelled both her awareness of the preciousness and threats to our earth and a heartful wish to preserve its integrity. In 2010 she met with Jessamijn and together co-founded Ecofemme. She feels very committed to bringing the world with this simple but powerful product that can transform the planet, one woman, one period at a time.
She found her first cloth pad in New Zealand but in India, there was no precedent. That’s how the idea of so Eco Femme developed. During their research, they found out about the restrictions imposed on women in India such as not using the kitchen, not touching, secluding themselves from society and even from family members during the cycle, etc.
She also discovered that using cloth during the period was a prevalent practice until recently when disposable napkins that are 90% plastic came into the market.
These pads take 500-800 years to decompose, cause rashes to the skin yet, no one talks about it because it is a taboo.
The dominant cultural view is the shame around talking about the subject. Menstruation is private but it should not be concealed any longer. We feel deep instinctive shame and that is highly unhealthy. Washing the cloth is another taboo. It is a global trend and exists in India as well.
Join the Eco Femme revolution!
Menstruation is not only a hygiene issue. Hygiene is a part of it. We are willing to use plastic that harms our body and earth as opposed to discomfort in washing cloth pads. Using plastic pads and cultural silence on the topic is a grave danger.
Kathy says she agreed to do the talk as the title, “Tuning In” was apt and relevant. Connecting the dots is extremely crucial in the current times. We are nature. Thinking of using cloth pads is like redemption. Listening to ourselves as nature, tuning in to our connection with nature. We are demanding more from earth unreasonably. We lost the connection between ourselves and nature. That’s why we keep exploiting her.
We are not just bleeding, we go through a cycle on an emotional level, physical level. When you track your cycle you realise that you are not the same person through all cycles. There are times when energy is much higher, sometimes it is low and you maybe less productive. We have been defied the feminine a lot but lets start making friends with our menstruation.
How do we develop a conscious relationship with it? We need to start listening to our body. This is the only true navigation system we have got. Conscious knowledge of our bodies, exercising, starting a practice of tracking our own cycle are some of the steps.
Pad for Pad
Approach the concept of using cloth pads from a place of love and not guilt or shame. When you approach it with love, then you will understand the damage involved and you will not want to be a part of causing the damage. Instead, you will become a part of redeeming your connect with nature and in turn saving our Planet.
“It is the time for the feminine to rise”, she says as a apt conclusion to her refreshing talk.