“I am fascinated by the Nepalese sustainable way of life and their harmonious relation with nature. But over the years, I have seen more and more cheap, plastic products coming from China and India… I want to show that economically disadvantaged individuals are also entitled to the good things in life,” Lin says.
In Taiwan, disposable pad manufacturers have monopolized the market for years, but their products contain synthetic ingredients and fragrances that can cause adverse allergic reactions, dermatitis and vaginitis.
The impact is not only on health but on the environment as well. In a woman’s lifetime, she may throw away 11,100 disposable sanitary napkins, which are incinerated, end up in a landfill or reappear in the environment, according to the information compiled by Michelle Hua (華宇芝), Lin’s business partner.
In another study conducted by the Women’s Environmental Network, a health charity in the UK, the number of tampons, pads and other applicators an average woman dumps in her lifetime can weigh up to 150kg.
Washable cloth pads offer environmental and health benefits. In addition, since the majority of washable cloth pads are manufactured by small businesses and sold via the Internet, health stores and like-minded shops, they offer a great opportunity to “free oneself from the dependence on multinational companies,” Lin says.
Lin says that working with sanitary pads has helped her reconnect with her body. “Nepalese women gave me a chance to re-examine myself, to see my blood and study it, to feel and understand my own body,” says Lin.
Hua agrees. “It is changing habits, going from avoiding it to understanding it. Since you need to wash the pad, you get to know your menstrual blood well. Does it change in color and thickness? Or are there clots? Through cleaning, I am more in tune with my body. It [cleaning pads] may be an obstacle to some, but to me, it has become a special thing.”
Lin and her friends run a study group in Taiwan that meets regularly to discuss topics surrounding women, the environment and sustainability.
Since April, the group has toured the country with an exhibit of sustainable menstrual products by small Taiwanese manufacturers, like Pu Pu Tieh Hsin, 1225 Simple Life (聖誕婆婆小舖), Easy Lohas (容億樂活小舖) and Cherry Pads (櫻桃蜜貼). Also on display are environmentally-friendly products such as menstrual cups from South Korea, Canada and India as well as a photography exhibition documenting Lin’s social undertaking in Patalekhet.
“We want to invite more people to move toward a sustainable way of living,” Lin says.
The touring exhibition is on display at the Facai Timeless Coffee Shop (法采時光咖啡館) in Hualien City until June 16. More information can be obtained at earthygals.wordpress.com.