How do you dispose your tampons after usage?
Flushing tampons down your toilet costs the water companies in England and Wales £70m a year to clear the drains of nasties and stop them ending up on the world’s beaches.
Not flushing, however, presents other problems, wrapping them in loo roll, and building them up quickly in the bin.
That's why we present to you today Fab Little Bag and the founder Martha Silcott.
What is Fab Little Bag?
Fab Little Bag is a unique sanitary disposal bag invented for tampon disposal but also used for Sanitary towels too. Uniquely they are opaque, they seal closed, you can open them with one hand (handy if holding a used tampon in the other!) and they are biodegradable.
What sparked the initial idea for Fab Little Bag? What inspired your mission?
Frustration! Sitting on the toilet, about to do another “Loo Roll Wrap” I just thought – why isn’t there a better way to dispose of tampons that isn’t yukky and awkward?!
Can you tell us a little about your education and career background? How has that influenced your work with Fab Little Bag?
Straight out of University I pretty much started my own business setting up my pwn IFA practice in the City. I loved that for 7 years then decided to have a family and I moved into Corporate world, but still being innovative setting up a new register to help people find their ‘lost’ money from Insurance companies...I have always sought better ways to do things, whatever they may be so I guess in a way Fab Little Bag is simply my most passionate one of these projects!
Tampon disposal has always been a topic that’s been a little neglected. Why do you think there is not enough information on this subject and why do you think it has taken this long?
It remains a taboo subject, not quite sure why, it is not freely spoken about and boys and men are excluded (willingly most of the time!) It involves blood and the vagina and many religions have strict and prohibitive rules around how women are treated when they are menstruating. It seems to have been somehow forgotten and not appreciated that without periods women could not have babies , no babies, no human race..... so these it actually affects everyone!! Until people feel more comfortable discussing periods, and how they manage them things wont change that much, although things have been changing for the better – the Tampon Tax actually was fantastic as it brought the word Tampon out into the open, even into the House of Commons and on the news!
What kind of reception have you received from your customers and how are you building your brand in the online and offline world?
The feedback form customers has blown me away to be honest – We receive lots of tweets, and emails telling us how Fab Little Bag has changed their life, they are now confident especially when out and about, at other peoples houses etc, there are so many places where it is uncomfortable and embarrassing to dispose of a used product and Fab Little Bag just takes all that angst away! We have also had feedback from men who have periods and how Fab Little Bag is a godsend as there are no bins at all in men's loos! We also are converting many “Gobsmacked Flushers and Guilty Flushers to Binners , which makes me very happy!
What is the social impact of Fab Little Bag?
I hope that the social impact of Fab Little Bag is that:
a) it helps to break down the taboos around periods and particularly around disposal
b) that they encourage people to be Binners and not flush sanitary items (or anything other than Pee Poo and Paper) down the loo! This will reduce the blockages and environmental pollution too!
c) that they ensure that people (especially teenagers) can bin the angst and feel confident with disposal every time , anywhere.
How do female entrepreneurs like you confront the social stigma around menstruation? Why is it important to change the dialogue around periods?
We try to employ some humour in our messaging as well as the serious messages around blockages, pollution, embarrassment.... just talking helps - “are you a flusher or a binner” is my favorite question! !! We need to change the dialogue and break down the taboo around menstruation as it limits women in terms of how they feel on a regular basis.... why should we have to stress about what if there’s no bin , or enough loo roll or I block the toilet....etc? Why?
What are the highs and lows of your job and what advice would you give yourself when you first started this process?
The highs are easy : Customer feedback! I particularly like meeting Gobsmacked FLushers – those who have been ‘innocently’ flushing as they genuinely believed it was fine to flush ! When they realize they are usually slightly horrified at all the tampons they have flushed to date and are very open to becoming a Binner!! Seeing FabLittleBag on the shelf of Waitrose (our first retailer) was incredibly – the idea I had back in 1996 there on the shelf for people to buy , amazing! There are lows for sure, managing cashflow, getting rejected by retailers, high street shops, corporate customers, the sheer full-on-ness of it all – it is hard to juggle family and other life commitments as a new business needs all of your time!
How has your relationship to tampon disposal changed or stayed the same since your product launched?
Not really as I was a Binner and had my prototypes to use for a while so was already experiencing the joys (yes joys!) of using Fab Little Bag! I am aware now about men who have periods and who therefore have a real challenge regarding their disposal…
How difficult is it to create awareness for safer and healthier behaviors when it comes to menstruation and tampon disposal?
Very! You have to force a conversation about a topic that no-one is really comfortable discussing ! Also it is so personal….People have their established habits and so it is hard to change these, but we are making great progress…
What’s your motivational mantra?
Either: Every day in every way my life gets better and better, or This too will pass….. depending on the day I am having!
What hopes do you have for Fab Little Bag?
That it becomes a loved and valued brand in the UK and internationally, making a yukky part of a period easy, discreet and hygienic putting women and girls back in control.
What’s next for Fab Little Bag?
Global domination ! ....just as soon as we raise our funding!!