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Meet Bloody Bitches, the Period Poverty Nonprofit Improving Menstrual Equity and Advocating for Sustainability
Health & Beauty

Meet Bloody Bitches, the Period Poverty Nonprofit Improving Menstrual Equity and Advocating for Sustainability

Menstrual products are expensive and difficult to access for many communities. Two Temple University graduates are doing something about it by running an organization that donates pads and tampons to those in need.

A 2019 survey of low-income individuals found that one-fifth of respondents struggle to pay for period products every month. Incarcerated individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and underserved communities are particularly hindered by an inability to afford menstrual products; an expense that adds up quickly.

Bloody Bitches, a nonprofit soon filing for 501(c)(3) tax status, purchases and delivers menstrual products to low-income Philadelphians. The organization began with the fledgling ideas of Temple University alumnae Nayanka Paul and Zoë Vella in a business course last year.

Their different but converging interests forged a partnership that informs their diverse, inclusive approach to fighting period poverty.

“[Nayanka] likes to advocate for period poverty and things of that nature, I’m all about sustainability, and we see how our interests really collide and are intersectional,” says Vella.

This intersectionality is at the heart of Bloody Bitches’ awareness and education efforts. Their work is guided by four tiers of period poverty: accessibility, education, environmental justice, and fundamental rights—all of which are interconnected.

“…Each tier plays a critical part in period poverty. It is important that as advocates & community members, that we start addressing these tiers when speaking about period poverty, because if we aren’t starting these conversations, who will?” asks Bloody Bitches in an Instagram post.

Vella is invested in these core tenets, as she believes equity cannot be achieved without examining the systems upholding inequity through a critical lens.

“A lot of people that bleed don’t have access to pads and tampons. They don’t have access to even bathrooms sometimes—or even clean water. And I want to bring the Black Lives Matter movement into this because I think it’s really important to understand that we’re not equal in America in a lot of aspects. Even if you look at pollution—with sustainability, we have to look at it as intersectional,” she explains.

With these principles in mind, Paul and Vella have made a tangible impact on the Philadelphia community by purchasing and distributing over $1000 dollars worth of pads and tampons.

While they continue to encourage the growth of the Bloody Bitches nonprofit, the pair are also spearheading two new developments that they hope will increase visibility and viability for the organization.

“We’re going to start up another program where if people are in need, they can anonymously let us know and we’ll get it to their house… We’re also trying to build a company outside of that,” says Vella.

How People With Periods Can Stimulate Social and Environmental Equity

Even if you don’t have the resources to build a nonprofit organization from the ground up like Paul and Vella, there are a number of actions you can take to make dealing with menstruation healthier, sustainable, and more ethical.

If you can afford to do so, try reusable period products that don’t produce pollution and are without the harmful chemicals found in many pads and tampons.

“We want people to make sure they realize their actions might affect [marginalized communities] as well. If you’re polluting and it’s not affecting your town, it’s affecting someone else’s town… That’s why we encourage people who can buy reusable products, cups, things of that nature, to definitely do so,” urges Vella.

She suggests Ruby Love’s period panties and The Honey Pot’s menstrual cups, both of which are sustainable Black-owned businesses.

You can also contribute by sharing Bloody Bitches’ Instagram content, educating yourself on the intersections of environmental justice and period poverty with the resources listed on their Linktree, and by donating on PayPal, where 100 percent of proceeds go to purchasing menstrual products to donate.

Cover photo courtesy of Bloody Bitches.

Broke in Philly
Green Philly is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow at @brokeinphilly.

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Avery Matteo
Avery is a junior at Bryn Mawr College majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in English. She is currently an Editorial Intern at Green Philly. In her free time, you can find her curled up with an iced coffee, a book, and her adorable dog Cosmo. View all posts by Avery Matteo

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