This February, the Broome County Public Library (BCPL) will be hosting a “Period Product Donation Drive.”
Gillian Friedlander, the Adult Services Librarian at the BCPL, said the purpose of the drive is to collect period products, including tampons, pads and personal care products, for those in the community, according to WBNG. The drive is meant to attack period poverty and begin more conversations on the issue, Friedlander explained, with many residents of Broome County being low-income. BCPL aims to use these collected resources to create a period pantry modeled after one started in Schenectady, NY, and offer the supplies to community members.
Friedlander further outlined the details of the pantry and its intended purpose in the community.
“All items will be available in the period pantry and are available for all community members,” Friedlander wrote in an email. “We’re hoping to especially help low-income and houseless community members — however, the items are available for anyone, no questions asked. If you need it, it’s there! There are no age or gender identity restrictions either.”
The pantry will purposely be placed outside of restrooms so that resources are constantly accessible. Friedlander clarified that menstruation is not a gendered concept, and therefore, the pantry does not belong in gendered bathrooms.
Friedlander expressed her belief that period products are a basic human right and should always be easily accessible. However, according to WBNG, many end up having to choose between these essential items and food.
“People need to make decisions they should not have to make, such as missing work or school or forgoing food for the sake of purchasing products,” Friedlander wrote in an email. “Just like people should have access to food, shelter, water, health care and information, and it should be noted that many also do not have access to those items, they should have access to period products. The ability to manage one’s period offers people dignity and the ability to fully participate in society.”
While New York state does not have a sales tax on period products anymore, a recently implemented change, many states still do. Period products are typically still seen as luxury items instead of basic human necessities. State aid, such as WIC and SNAP, doesn’t cover the costs of these products. The inability to afford period products has dramatic impacts. The lack of access to period products prevents people who menstruate from going to school due to worries about bleeding through their clothes, according to UNICEF.
Period poverty has been shown to affect emotional and physical health, Friedlander added, with it being connected to various illnesses, including depression and urinary tract infections. Period poverty disproportionately affects those of color. “A quarter of Black (23 percent) and Latina (24 percent) people with periods strongly agree that they’ve struggled to afford period products” in 2021 according to The Alliance for Period Supplies.
Friedlander finally addressed the public to inform about how they can continue fighting this sanitary product issue.
“Learn about period poverty and its causes,” Friedlander wrote in an email. “Learn about government policies. Learn about the consequences of a lack of access. And then advocate for change. If your school doesn’t offer free products, advocate for those to be available. Advocate for free products in lower grade schools, in public locations, in doctor’s offices. Donating is also a great step! Run a drive. Donate items. Help keep this pantry stocked.”
Donations can be dropped off at the reference desk up until Feb. 28,
Shannon Santos, the vice president of She’s The First and a junior majoring in human development, explained why she thinks that period product donations are so important.
“No one can control having a period but the barriers set up in specific places determine whether or not these menstruators have access to the materials they need,” Santos said. “It’s especially hard at an institution like Binghamton University, where it may feel difficult to ask for help because several students have been privileged enough to have period products at their disposal. I think donations like these impact all menstruators and even more so those who care about the future of our health care.”
Grace Colavecchio, an intern for the Women’s Student Union and a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law shared her support of the drive.
“Access to period products is something that all people who menstruate should have access to,” Colavecchio said. “I am thrilled that the drive is happening.”