Southern Route. Good Start!

Greetings! Rachel and Olive are in Long Beach after a beautiful and easy ride from Los Angeles. We had a great Sustainable Cycles Workshop at The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse.

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Who’s ready to bike  cross country? We are! We had a lovely event at The Bikerowave in Los Angeles on Friday. Goodbye hugs, potluck food, and lots of free menstrual cups.

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It was a grey start to the day, but not much rain. We are water-proof and ready for puddles. Thank you, @DeFeet for the warm gloves!

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The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse is a trash-to-treasure business. Lisa and Yoshino are an amazing mother and daughter team that run the store. Stop in for any type of art supply that every existed. 320 Elm Ave!

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Thank you for a great workshop, ladies! See the woman in the overalls? That’s Frau Fiber. She’s awesome. A super OG feminist activist seamstress craftswoman maker. Long Beach, you got it goin’ on!

WE DID IT! 2015 Will be our largest bicycle tour yet!

IMG_1410Major thanks to all of the 200+ wonderful people who donated to our Indiegogo campaign! We surpassed our goal of $10,000, and our seven riders will be embarking on their journeys in the next few weeks! We are so grateful for your love and support, and are so excited to start this adventure!

Thanks to our sponsors, DIVA CUP, LUNETTE, THE KEEPER, MY OWN CUP, RUBY CUP, PARTY IN MY PANTS, COZY FOLK, THINX, JUJU, AND GLAD RAGS, for donating the samples that are making these workshops across the nation possible!

We would also like to thank Vaya Bags, Green Guru, DeFeet, Bicycle Habitat NYC, and WEBike NYC for providing our riders with some snazzy gear that we can’t wait to use!

Rachel H and Olive will be starting in Los Angeles on March 2 and biking across the southern tier, joining up with Rosie in Austin, TX. Ruby and Sarah will begin their tour in the Bay Area on February 26, and will bike across the Midwest. Rachel S and Heather will be biking up the east coast from Key West, Florida. All seven riders will converge in Richmond, VA on May 14, and bike in a group up to Boston for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research conference on June 4th.

We are gearing up, and we are thrilled to know that we have the love and support of all of you! Follow our progress on Twitter @bikeperiod and Instagram @sustainablecycles !

Upcoming events:

San Francisco, CA : Saturday 2/28 2-4pm at Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant Street

Davis, CA: Monday 3/2 6-8pm at US Bicycle Hall of Fame, 303 3rd Street

Long Beach, CA: Monday 3/2  4-6pm  at The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse, 320 Elm Ave.

Las Cruces, NM: 3/20 7-8:45 pm at Mountain View Market Co-Op, 1300 El Paseo Road

2015 Indiegogo Campaign is up – Help us Spread the Word!

Our March- June 2015 Tour is right around the corner and our Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000 is in full swing!

  1. Read this post about the tour.
  2. Visit the Indiegogo page and make a donation
  3. Check out our Facebook event for the fundraiser and invite your friends.
  4. “Like” Sustainable Cycles on Facebook.
  5. Get in touch if you want to be involved!

Sustainable Cycles is a collective of “spokeswomen” who travel across the country by bicycle to lead workshops about eco-friendly menstrual products.The project was started in 2011 by Sarah Konner and Toni Craige, who biked down the West Coast meeting with groups of women to discuss the cultural taboos of menstruation and pass around a show-and-tell kit of alternatives to single-use pads and tampons. The project gained momentum and a year later, Rachel Horn led a second bicycle tour, talking about periods and the environmental impact of the products we use everywhere she went.

Now, SIX WOMEN from diverse backgrounds want to take the project to the next level! Rachel and Olive from Los Angeles, Ruby and Sarah from New York City, Rosie from Australia, and Kim from South Africa are going to bike from the West Coast to Boston. Our six riders will follow two separate routes (one southern and one midwestern) from California to converge in Richmond, VA. Then we will ride in one big group up the east coast  to end at the Society of Menstrual Cycle Research’s National Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. We will present our project at the June 2015 event and network with others doing work in this field.

SO FAR, MENSTRUAL CUP AND REUSABLE CLOTH PAD COMPANIES HAVE DONATED OVER 1,000 SAMPLES FOR US TO PROMOTE AND DISTRIBUTE ON OUR TRIP! OUR SPONSORS INCLUDE DIVA CUP, LUNETTE, MY OWN CUP, RUBY CUP, AND PARTY IN MY PANTS.

During our three months on the road, we will host events in different cities along our routes and start person-to-person conversations with hundreds of women about menstrual health and alternative products. We will encourage them to switch to methods that are safer and more environmentally friendly, and spread the word to their friends and communities. Let’s break the cycle of shame and embarrassment around “cycling”!

We want your support!

We want to raise $10,000 to help cover the cost of food, bicycle maintenance, emergency repairs, and transportation to and from our start and end locations. While we are doing our best to be frugal and source used and donated gear, there are still many items we don’t yet have that will be necessities on the road, especially since we will be riding through a variety of climates and terrain. We will definitely need to replace things like tires, tubes, and brake pads as they wear out over the trip. We will also need to keep ourselves fed and watered. Remember, the money we raise will be distributed between six riders!

If you aren’t able to contribute financially at this time, please check out our list below of other donations we will gladly accept!

Why donate?

By donating to this campaign, you are supporting a cultural shift towards more environmental and health-conscious practices, as well as more open discourse surrounding women’s bodies and menstruation. We have done bike tours like this before, and we have been successful in spreading knowledge about alternative products and getting hundreds of women across the country to make the switch to reusables. We are already supported by many of the companies who manufacture these sustainable products, but we need YOUR SUPPORT to make our largest cross-country tour ever a reality!

There are many ways to contribute!

In addition to monetary contributions, we will gladly accept donations of the following (things in used condition or temporary loans are A-ok!):

-lightweight camping gear (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camping stoves, water purifiers, camel backs)

-Up-to-date bicycle maps of the following states: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia

-bicycle gear (clipless shoes, lots of bike lights and batteries, warm lightweight layers, racks, panniers, safety flags and triangles, water bottles and bottle cages, toe covers, bar mitts for cold weather)

Help us make connections!

Besides the physical “stuff”, connections to potential hosts and communities who would be interested in workshops along our routes are invaluable! Know a women’s health center, bicycle coalition, social/environmental/student group, health food store, or other potentially interested party in any of the following cities or surrounding areas? Please reach out to us and let us know!

Ruby, Sarah, and Kim:

CA- San Francisco, Sacramento

NV- Carson City

UT- Salt Lake City

CO- Boulder, Denver

KS- Topeka

MS- Kansas City, St. Louis

IN- Bloomington

OH- Cincinnati

VA- Roanoke, Richmond

Rachel, Olive, and Rosie:

CA- San Diego

AZ- Phoenix

NM- Las Cruces

TX- Austin

LA- New Orleans

MS- Jackson

AL- Montgomery

GA- Atlanta

NC- Asheville

ALL:

DC- Washington

PA- Philadelphia

NYC and Boston- we have many connections here already, but we’d be happy to make more! :)
Please share our campaign with your friends and pass the word along about our project! 


Even if you can’t contribute at this time, supporting our work by talking about it with others will help us greatly!

Invitation to Join: Sustainable Cycles Tour 2015

AN ANNOUNCEMENT AND AN INVITATION:

We are planning our grandest adventure yet! Starting in Spring 2015, there will be two or three (or hopefully more!) Sustainable Cycles trips on different routes happening at the same time across the country, all converging at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference in Boston in June.

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We are about to embark on a big fundraising campaign for this. We have already gotten 1,000 (!!!!!) cups donated to the tour, and we are working to getting cloth pads and sea sponges donated.  We aim to raise $10,000 with an IndieGoGo campaign to cover the cost of the riders. As we set out planning, we want to extend this invitation out to you or anyone you know who might want to join us!

 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

Bike touring is a rigorous and exhilarating adventure. We expect that all cyclers will agree to live cheaply while riding and take a serious part in our fundraising campaign. You and a partner will design your own route and create your itinerary for where to visit and when. You will be responsible for planning events along your route and publicizing them.  We encourage you to offer your own ideas for fundraising schemes and any ridiculous stunts to catch people’s interest. We will do the job of getting the cups and heading up the fundraising campaign. We will give you all of our educational materials and support you with conversations and mentorship. We will expect you to want to educate yourself about the subject matter through books, research, and conversation aver the coming months.

 

APPLY!:

If you might be interested in joining this wondrous adventure, send and email to sskonner@gmail.com with a little about yourself.

Please respond briefly to the questions below by September 1st to indicate serious interest in joining.

 

1.  What is your background/ passion for sustainability and menstruation?

 

2. Bike touring can be beautiful and carefree, but also strenuous, unpredictable, and we will be living simply– really simply. Assuming that sentence is exciting and not terrifying, tell us about your experience (or desire for experience) adventuring.

 

3. What is your experience, if any in public education and/ or grassroots organizing?

 

4. What makes this the right time in your life to go on this trip?

 

We believe in this work. It is happening and it is exciting to be slowly, but surely moving the ‘norm’ away from disposable menstrual products and opening public dialogue about menstruation. If you want to take part, we want you to!

 

Tampon Safety Act in Congress– Needs Our Support!

I’m writing this post to you all from a blazing hot New York City Summer. Sadly, I’m not currently on a grand travelling adventure, but Sustainable Cycles has some exciting news to share from the Menstruation Activism world in general: Congress may pass a bill requiring federal study of the health risks of menstrual products!   Please read this post and take action by writing to your representatives and signing the petition. 

News from the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research:

This past May,Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney introduced into Congress a piece of legislation that would be huge advancement to the menstrual health and safety of girls and women in the US.  It’s called HR 4746, or the Robin Danielson Act, named after a woman who died from the effects of the contents of commercial tampons. The bill would require appropriate Federal agencies to conduct research and make available to the public information about the content of menstrual products, particularly tampons and pads.

qDilXyvmykAAyWT-556x313-noPad If all of this is new to you, here’s the background information in a nutshell. All the scientific research about the safety of tampons and pads that is currently available, has been funded by the pad and tampon corporations. Yes. You heard that right, and your jaw should have dropped. Not only that, but because of the way pads and tampons are categorized by the FDA, the manufacturers are not required to reveal to the public what their products are made of. And they don’t. Worse, they may share some ingredients, but not all. There are numerous chemists and microbiologists doing brilliant research on the actual effects of these conventional products (challenging, as even they can’t get access to an accurate account of what they are made of). But as I learned from NYU microbiologist Dr. Phillip Tierno (published work on Toxic Shock Syndrome), and from researchers in several fields at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference, it is close to impossible to get this research published. It’s shocking, but that is the reality of corporate pressure on science.

If the act has any chance of passing it will require the collective effort of all of us. David Linton, with the support of the SMCR leadership, drafted a sample letter to members of Congress in support of the Act. The letter is copied below for your convenience. Feel free to modify the letter to suit your own views of how best to argue the case.
As it stands, the act was referred to the H.R. Subcommittee on Health on May 30th, 2014, so it will probably be most effective to contact the specific representatives on the committee (information below). They will review it, and put it up for a vote whenever they see fit.  There is no set timeline, but it’s likey that public pressure on the members of the committee will speed things along.
Let’s get behind this effort. Please contact your representative.

I just did it online. It took less than 5 minutes. Also, share this email/ post with others you know who are also involved in issues of women’s health and safety.


Dear Congressman (or Congresswoman). . . . . . .:

I am writing to to urge your support and co-sponsorship of HR 4746, The Robin Danielson Act, that was recently introduced by your colleague, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.  The bill is aimed at providing better safety and health care for girls and women through more effective testing and public information about the quality of widely used menstrual health products. It is important to note that this bill does not involve controversial areas of women’s health such as abortion or contraception.  Rather, it provides a means for members of Congress to address an important safety and health concern that affects virtually all girls and women between the ages of 13 and 50.  Simply, the act would require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research whether menstrual hygiene products that contain dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other chemical additives like chlorine and fragrances, post health risks. The bill has already been endorsed by a wide variety of women’s, consumer, and environmental organizations, including the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research of which I am a member. Should you desire more details about the intentions of the legislation or the positive ways to will help advance the safety and health needs of girls and women, I would be happy to provide more information.  Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing your views on the bill and hope that you will give it your full support. Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

 


Members of the Subcommittee on Health:
Republicans: Dan Benishek (MI), David Roe (TN), Jeff Denham (CA), Jim Huelskamp (KS), Jackie Walorski (IN), Brad Wenstrup (OH), and David Jolly (FL).
Democrats: Julia Brownley (CA), Corrine Brown (FL), Raul Ruiz (CA), Gloria Negrete-McLeod (CA), Ann Kuster (NH)

If you’d like to also contact your member of Congress: Use the following link to the House of Representative web site.  There’s a zip code search function in the upper right corner of the main site – http://house.gov/. As the bill is referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it would be helpful to have members of that committee  as cosponsors but any new cosponsors would help advance the bill.


The other easy way you can make your voice heard is to sign this petition started by Ingrid Johnston-Robledo and Angela Barney of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. “Congress: Robin Danielson Act–Research regarding risks posed by dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other additives in feminine hygiene products” It will take 30 seconds to sign it right now. Here’s the link: http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-robin-danielson-act-research-regarding-risks-posed-by-dioxin-synthetic-fibers-and-other-additives-in-feminine-hygiene-products

Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference

After a whirlwind of a summer, we are, a little belatedly, finishing our post from the SMCR Conference from early June.

Sounds quirky, but believe it or not, there were over 200 people at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research conference in NYC in early June.  Sarah and I have been looking forward to this conference for two years!  The Society has been facilitating multidisciplinary dialogue and research about the importance of the menstrual cycle to women’s health since 1979.  Scientist, artists, public health researchers, and gender/sexuality experts converged on Manhattan Marymount College for three days of sharing.

On Thursday evening, Sarah represented Sustainable Cycles at the Poster Presentation session– Our display was a big map of the United States with Rachel’s route pinned out. I hung up samples of cloth pads, menstrual cups, and sea sponges, and brought in all the materials of our fresh-off-the-press Educator’s Packets! Most people there already knew and love re-useables, although cups were new to a few people, even at this conference! That evening I gave away three Educator’s Packets to 3 awesome new spokeswomen.

Nita Padavil, one of our newest spokeswomen, is a soon-to-be second year medical student at UChicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, hoping to become an OB/GYN. She is especially interested in how the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle underpin a woman’s health and wellbeing throughout her lifespan. Her first Sustainable Cycles event was in July at the Englewood Community Health Fair, which took place in the Chicago neighborhood of Englewood which is predominantly African American and working class.

From Nita:

“One awesome moment: two teenage girls came by and were very excited by both the reusable pads and cup. One even said that our table was the most helpful one they’d been at in the entire fair. Another great moment: One man was sold on the idea of resuable products when he realized this would mean no longer having to make monthly trips to the drugstore for his wife’s Always Maxipads.
“I also talked with a few women I knew from the women’s homeless shelter, (the shelter was the organizing entity for this fair). One was very excited by the idea of reusable products but disappointed that we didn’t have any samples to give away, as she is of very limited financial means.
Overall, this menstrual activism effort was a great success. It even led to conversations among some of my fellow medical students, female and male, who hadn’t heard of these products before. I’m thinking that my next outreach event will be at my medical school, to let my peers know about these products so that they’ll be able to recommend them to patients they see.”
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I feel so lucky to have met Nita. We will be looking forward to hearing about her work in the future!
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There were some serious rock stars at this conference!  We could not possibly list them all, but Alessandra Leri,  Chella Quint, and Chris Bobel illustrate the diversity of the group…

Conventional tampons and pads are bleached with chlorine, and contain some unknown concentration or organocloride chemicals (some in the form of dioxins).  We got to hear Alessandra Leri, a chemist at Manhattan Marymount College talk about her latest work attempting to measure the toxicity of tampons.  With strong results, this research could be part of an attempt to get bleach out of tampons!

Chella Quint is a comedy writer, performer, artist, activist, zine editor, and health educator who lives in the UK.  She did a comedy show during lunch on Saturday which included:

  • A video of a girl walking around a mall with a huge period stain on her white jeans… plus everyones’ reactions.
  • A pitch for her Stain (TM) product line – stylish red patches in the shape of a stain that you can stick on the back of your pants.
  • And best of all, an educational song about the menstrual cycle, that she thinks would be ideal for Sesame Street.  We will have to ask her if we can share it here.  It’s seriously been stuck in my head for days.  She had the whole conference doing a sing-along.

Chris Bobel, a Women’s Studies professor at U Mass Boston, felt like the hostess of the event – she did a ton or work to organize, and was clearly in a state of bliss the entire time.   MORE

We met some menstruation education sisters!  M.A.R.C. (Menstration Activist Research Collective), was co-founded by two students at Arizona State University, Jaqueline J. Gonzalez and Stephanie Robinson.  They have their own version of an “educators packet,” and their own spin on a menstrual product workshop.  It was fascinating to attend their workshop on menstrual activism.

We have big crushes on two different organizations doing work with menstrual products in the developing world… and we got to meet representatives of both organizations at the conference!

  • Zana Africa is a non-profit working with local people to create business out of biodegradable, affordable cloth pads for women and girls. By making affordable sanitary pads, delivering health education, and informing policy, Zana Africa creates new opportunities for women and girls to thrive as focused students, productive workers, and informed mothers.

“The Problem: 65% of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford pads. This means that over 850,000 girls miss 6 weeks of school every year and women miss valuable work hours. The problem is worse across East Africa with 4 in 5 unable to afford pads. Reusable pads and rags are the alternatives, but can be unhygienic, leading to long-term health complications. They also cause embarrassing leaks. Girls would rather stay home than risk such humiliation.

The Solution: produce the lowest-cost, most eco-responsible sanitary pad in the world and to provide large-scale, cascading impact to women and intermediary partners through distribution. By 2020 Zana Africa will directly support 3 million girls and women with their pads, to sustainably win back 5 million school days, 2 million work hours and $1 million to reinvest in their families. They will equip 23,000 saleswomen to earn an additional $100/year.”

  • Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE): helps local women in developing countries jump-start their own businesses to manufacture and distribute affordable, quality, and eco-friendly sanitary pads.  SHE  uses local raw materials, instead of  imported materials, to ensure affordability and accessibility.banana fiber  SHE will couple its product innovation with a financially sustainable business model operated and owned by women in the community that can be replicated wherever the need exists.  SHE will instigate the launch of a local business by
    • Partnering with existing local women’s networks;
    • Ensuring a microfinance loan for women who will share start-up costs;
    • Training local group in necessary business skills and health and hygiene.

Check out their promo video and join the SHE28Campaign!

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To say that we were inspired by this conference would be an understatement. The collective power, vision, and intelligence of this group of people sent us off feeling a charged excitement about this work, but also with questions of how Sustainable Cycles can be most effective. We are happy to continue giving away Educator’s Packets and resources to new Spokeswomen as we meet them, but we’ve decided that, for now at least, we’d like to focus on making more bike trips happen. Our goal is to support at least one trip per year.

This year we will be inviting women to apply to take a Sustainable Cycles bicycle trip. As we did with Rachel, we will supply educational materials, mentorship, use of the blog, and keep up the relationships with the cup companies. We see these trips with (at least) a two-fold benefit: bicycle touring allows you to meet people, start conversations, and give away cups to a wide demographic of people that would be very hard to find otherwise; and, these trips are a tremendous learning experience for the people taking them.

It’s a cheap, adventurous, and meaningful way to travel. Great for folks finishing up college. If you or someone you know might be interested, contact us for more information!

Sarah Konner: sskonner@gmail.com

Toni Craige: tonicraige@gmail.com

we are here. celebrate with us

after a rainy last day of the bicycle trip, we made it safely into manhattan, boxed up our bikes, and sent them back to california!! i don’t exactly know what to do with myself, now. but i know it involves shopping and cooking for the AWESOME events we’re having. see you there, and if not, spread the word.  also, i’m still looking for a bicycle-powered ice cream churner.  anyone?ImageWE DID IT.

Upcoming events:

Boston, Lost Flag, Help with the NYC Parties!!

I am in Owen’s Aunt’s kitchen in Charlestown in Boston. It rained on us the past couple of days coming in from Albany. But now we are dry, warm, well-fed, and happy.

Since New Hartford, we stayed in a place called Herkimer, NY with a couchsurfing host who contacted us! Her couchsurfing profile was pretty scant, but she said she’d been following our blogs since the beginning of the trip, that she’s a happy cup user, that she’d feed us delicious banana bread, and that she’d give up her bed for us. BUT, that we’d have to wait until she got off work at 9 pm. Sounds creepy, right?! Well, we had our escape route ready and the Walmart parking lot as plan B, but when she got off work and welcomed us home, she turned out to be AWESOME.

This woman is an undercover “menstrual cup evangelist”. Not only has she tried pretty much every menstrual cup on the US and European markets, she has convinced several of her friends and their sisters to use them. And, she stealthily drops these fliers in bathrooms sometimes. Oh yeah, and she makes some of the meanest banana bread I’ve ever eaten.Image

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At Earthdance, an awesome space in beautiful mountainous MA. We got to stay a night because Owen’s friend works there. But we had to work 2 hours for it, so we cooked dinner for them! Fine by me! It was so nice to be in a big kitchen stocked with everything imaginable. And I was presented with tall flowers from the garden.Image

In Boston, I got invited to a ‘chat ‘n chew’–a lovely evening of women and delicious soups. To get home, the hostess sent me off with the Boston Bike Map. And I left her with a DivaCup. Sadly, I lost my flag somewhere on Com Ave near Jamaica Plain…it just flew off. Call me if you find it! I’ll try to make another before NYC. Image

Now, WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

The NYC events are coming up, and that is exciting. If you don’t already know, Sustainable Cycles consists of Toni, Sarah, and I. Toni doesn’t live in NYC, Sarah is super busy, and I am in charge of food for the events. I need a kitchen and I need hands! Who can help? Also, if you have any food hookups (like produce, bulk goods, prepared food, bike-powered ice cream churner), talk to me! 310 963 6121

Here are the events:

Invite all friends and try really really hard to get there. ’cause lemme tell ya. It’s gonna be fun. WE’RE ALMOST THERE!