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SSMU Menstrual Health Project Provides Free, Sustainable Period Products

Project alleviates costs of menstrual products and environmental impacts of disposable period products

An estimated 500 million people do not have access to menstrual health products globally. This lack of access extends to high-income countries like Canada, where one in three Canadians who menstruate have experienced period poverty: the lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, and/or a combination of these factors.
A survey conducted by Plan International Canada found that one in four menstruating women in the country have had to choose between buying period products or other essentials, such as food or rent. Moreover, women in Canada may spend up to $6,000 on menstrual supplies over their lifetimes. Period poverty specifically impacts young people in Canada – women between the ages of 18 and 24 feel that period products are too expensive and one in three women under 25 struggle to afford menstrual products.
In the face of these challenges, the SSMU Menstrual Health Project, launched in 2017, provides free and environmentally-friendly period products to all McGill students. The Daily spoke with Julia Miracle, Menstrual Health Commissioner with the Menstrual Health Project, on the team’s work.
As Commissioner, Miracle plays numerous roles within the Menstrual Health team. Among other tasks, Miracle facilitates one of the team’s primary initiatives: the distribution of free period products, such as pads and tampons, in female and gender-neutral washrooms across McGill’s downtown campus. Students can reference the SSMU Menstrual Health Free Product Locations document online to locate washrooms with free period products.
The Menstrual Health Project also focuses on sustainability. Single-use, disposable period products like tampons or pads can cause negative effects on the environment; conventional pads are estimated to add two grams of non-biodegradable plastic – the equivalent of four plastic bags – to the environment per use, taking an estimated 500 to 800 years to decompose. In the United States, approximately 20 billion disposable menstrual products are discarded each year, and according to a UK study conducted by the London Assembly Environment Committee, a person who menstruates will discard approximately 400 pounds of packaging from period products in their lifetime.
Reusable period products have been proven to be much more eco-friendly; menstrual cups, for example, are estimated to save a person who menstruates 2,400 pads or tampons in their lifetime, thus reducing the environmental impact of period products significantly. Aware of the environmental toll of standard period products, the Menstrual Health project actively works to provide sustainable products to McGill’s student body.
Miracle explained to the Daily that the team received a grant of $50,000 from the Sustainability Project Fund in 2023, which has helped them purchase period products like menstrual cups and period underwear from environmentally-conscious companies, such as Joni and Period Aisle. One of Period Aisle’s primary initiatives is increasing period products in universities across Canada, and McGill is one of their first partners. “It’s exciting to be one of the first universities that is working alongside them to propel this forward with other universities,” Miracle said.
The Menstrual Health Project organizes monthly pick-ups, where students can obtain free, sustainable period products such as menstrual cups, pads, tampons, and period underwear. Miracle told the Daily that the team holds pick-ups in different locations around campus at midday to reach the most students possible. Miracle said that when the team first started, the pick-ups reached an average of 60-100 students each month. However, this year, they have averaged 200-300 students per pick-up.
“It is super exciting to see how much we have grown and hopefully keep reaching more and more people, because that’s always our goal,” she told the Daily.
The Menstrual Health Project also works to combat stigma surrounding periods. In Canada, one in five people think that menstruation should not be publicly discussed and that menstrual products should be kept out of sight.
“A lot of what we are trying to do is also to destigmatize periods and normalize the conversation around them to increase accessibility and knowledge about it,” Miracle said.
You can visit the team’s Instagram page @ssmumenstrualhealthproject, their Facebook page, website. You can also email the team at to find out more about the monthly pick-ups for the winter term. The next period product pick-up will take place in the Leacock Lobby on February 23 between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Stop by to receive a free, environmentally-friendly period product and help destigmatize the conversation surrounding periods.