How Easy it is to Provide Tampons at Work? This Easy:

Buy a 100 pack, put in in the bathroom. Repeat when empty.

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

I went to Austin recently, and was flabbergasted by the number of public spaces with menstrual products. Not just tampons, but pads, hand sanitizer, and sanitary wipes.

In contrast, literally no where I have ever worked, that I didn’t personally manage, provided employees with menstrual products.

About 26% of the global population menstruates. That’s more than a quarter of the population. It’s highly likely that you have someone on your staff who menstruates. This is a fact most people know—and very few workspaces make accommodations for. Pretty much every public space, at some point in the day, will be occupied by someone who menstruates.

So why don’t more public spaces provide menstrual products? Honestly, I can’t think of a good answer.

I can think of some shitty answers, though! I’ll dismantle them one by one.

First is cost—providing menstrual products does cost money. But a simple Google search shows that a 96 pack of tampons cost about $5 more than a 100 pack of coffee lids:

Are the tampons more expensive? Yes. Are you much more likely to go through a pack of coffee lids before you go through a pack of tampons. Yes. Cost isn’t an issue.

Second is stealing. What stops folks from taking a handful of tampons on their way out of the bathroom? This line of reasoning is…interesting. It relies on the idea that having access to menstrual products is a luxury, not a necessity. So when menstrual products are available, folks will treat them like the “luxury goods” they are and nab as many as possible. We can’t control ourselves when we see those sweet sweet tampons.

Let’s compare menstrual products to another item that is generally “free” - mints. Often an amenity at the end of a meal, I doubt you’ve seen many folks put their entire hand in a bowl of free goodies. And perhaps you’ve seen one joker do it, but I doubt you’ve seen the restaurant you go to stop putting mints out. So really, stealing is not an issue.

larry wilmore women GIF by The Nightly Show

The third point is the actual issue—we don’t care about folks who bleed. We might use points like cost or the fear of folks stealing to justify why we don’t provide menstrual products, but as we’ve shown, these points don’t actually hold up when you analyze them for more than three seconds. Most folks in power haven’t had to think about providing easy access to menstrual products, so when it does cross their mind, they’re able to rely on easy (and flawed) arguments against it.

So many of our employees, our customers, our friends—bleed. It’s maybe the easiest sign of care and consideration to provide products that help us during a totally bodily process. It’s a sign of disrespect and lack of thought for the dignity of others when you don’t.

So how easy it is? Buy that 96 pack, and set it in your bathroom. Refill when empty. That’s all you need to do. If you’re ambitious, like the folks at Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina, provide multiple forms of menstrual products (plus some bobby pins) in your bathrooms. It’s really that easy.