We've explained time and time again the huge benefits gained from switching over to reusable feminine products, whether that's a reusable menstrual cup, a reusable cloth pad, or making your own DIY solution. For our better health, and for (way!) less waste, reusables are a no-brainer.
But it's not necessarily easy to get younger girls to come on board. Thanks to an ocean of corporate marketing out there, women's periods are subliminally portrayed as dirty, messy, something to hide and be ashamed of, rather than as a natural and even sacred part of your body.
With the aim of normalizing reusable menstrual products and reducing the number of disposables sent to the landfill, Northumbria University industrial design graduate Ailsa Inglis created Nixie Girl. It's a pale pink menstrual cup and a set of accessories targeted right at young girls, that is made to help "normalize" the experience of using a menstrual cup.
Inglis was motivated by her research, which revealed that 93 percent of menstruating women in the UK still use conventional, disposable products, which can take almost a decade to break down when thrown out. Not only did she want to make a better alternative that could be easily adopted by younger women, potentially for many years to come, she explains on Dezeen that she also wanted to address some of the social stigma surrounding menstruation:
This final-year project set out to explore the products on sale, social attitudes and the media's hold on the female hygiene industry, and how this influences society today.
Since the average woman uses nearly 11,400 tampons or pads in her lifetime, isn't it time as a generation we start to consider what's in these products? And, are other options like menstrual cups better for future generations if we spent a bit more time on designing for the user experience?
To create a cup that's more comfortable for new, younger users, Inglis design's features a higher back lip that's curved, in order to provide a better fit and more support when inserted near the cervix. There is a bit of a groove in the design, which helps the user find the best way to fold the cup, prior to insertion.
Instead of a bottom stem that's typical of most menstrual cups, Nixie features a loop of silicone string for easier removal.
Best of all, to make sure that there's no muss or fuss in cleaning the cup (one of the big issues that women may have about switching over), Nixie comes with a convenient, mini-sterilizer that steams the cup while cleaning it with a jet of hot water. After eight minutes, it's clean and ready to go.
And instead of the usual cloth bag that comes with conventional cups, Nixie comes with a stylish, mirrored hard case, separated into a section for clean and used cups. The mirror can help ease insertion.
For Inglis, it's about pushing for a cultural change, but not just in a political way. Besides enacting favourable policies like eliminating taxes on menstrual products, design is one way to achieve that cultural transformation by materializing new, sustainable attitudes in the products we use:
With so much division currently happening around the world today, surely it is the design world's responsibility to try and unite societies through thoughtful design like Nixie Girl. We cannot change the cultural values of corporate organisations like Procter & Gamble on sanitary products, but industrial designers can endorse a cultural shift regarding menstruation through innovative product design to help enable cultural change and support sustainability.