Menstruation and Sustainability Conference

Euan Donohue
Sunday 11 June 2023
Performance artist, Jay Critchley, performing as Miss Tampon Liberty at Castle Sands, St Andrews

The School of Modern Languages hosted a conference on Menstruation and Sustainability at the end of May 2023. Artist Jay Critchley gave a public keynote presentation and performed as Miss Tampon Liberty in a costume made from washed-up tampon applicators. Fifty academics, charity workers, activists, artists, policy makers and entrepreneurs from Mexico, Kenya, the US, Canada, Europe, Thailand and elsewhere presented and discussed recent research on sustainable menstrual products as well as the role of menstruation in law, public health, politics, justice, global development and culture.

This is the Second Annual Conference organised by Bettina Bildhauer of the Menstruation Research Network UK, a Wellcome Trust-funded network of researchers in Critical Menstrual Studies.

Speakers highlighted how sustainable products such as period underwear, reusable cups, washable and compostable pads have made menstruation ‘cool’ to some consumers, while others struggle to access any period products at all. Conventional tampons, pads and applicators contain plastics and are a significant pollution issue in Scotland and elsewhere due to water companies not adequately clear sewage.

Performance and conceptual artist Jay Critchley led a procession to Castle Sands in a Statue of Liberty gown made from tampon applicators washed up on his local beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

A twinned event, the Menstrual Justice Salon run by Prof. Marcy Karin, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, reflected on the state of menstrual policy and law in Scotland after it became the first country to enshrine in law a universal right to access free period products. Monica Lennon MSP, who had championed the law, spoke about the continuing challenges with implementing the law, ensuring menstrual education and promoting reusable products.

For the full conference programme and further information, see:

A report on the conference from the Provincetown Independent, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is available at:

For more on Bettina’s work, you can read the interview she did with the Open Research Team in October 2022 – “Interview with Bettina Bildhauer – Open Access to period products

Related topics

Share this story