Code Red and OrganiCup

Code Red and OrganiCup have partnered to bring free menstrual cups to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students during CampusCup 2020. 

Code Red is a sub-committee of Sustain UNL, which works to promote advocacy and education on sustainable menstrual products at UNL, according to Madison Whitney, junior environmental studies and global studies double major and leader of Code Red.

CampusCup 2020 is an online event occurring from Oct. 18-31. UNL students can sign up for a free menstrual cup, Cameron Raszler, senior civil engineering major and member of Code Red, said in an email. Once the menstrual cups are shipped to Code Red, Code Red will distribute them to the students who signed up.

During the summer, Whitney said she discovered OrganiCup, an organization that provides free menstrual cups to universities. Whitney said after researching OrganiCup and its mission, she signed Code Red up as a college partner with OrganiCup. 

Whitney said she was then put in touch with an OrganiCup representative who helped her organize CampusCup 2020 at UNL.

“Menstrual cups are a sustainable alternative to traditional menstrual products — such as pads and tampons — which have a significant impact on the environment from their production to their waste,” Whitney said.

Raszler said the cost of a menstrual cup commonly prevents students from purchasing them. However, since OrganiCup is providing them for free, it is a great way for students to make the shift toward more sustainable periods, Raszler said.

Whitney said about 2.9 million tampons and pads are used in a medium-sized university per year. Whitney said a menstrual cup can be reused for up to 10 years.

“By incentivizing students to use menstrual cups rather than traditional products by taking away the financial barrier, UNL can make a big difference,” Whitney said.

Whitney said it can be difficult to talk about menstruation and different menstrual products on campus, let alone their environmental impact. However, Whitney said she wanted to bring this event to campus to give students the opportunity to have that discussion and destigmatize the discussion around periods.

“As we work to bring sustainability into our own lives, the conversation of period products is usually overlooked or actively ignored, but I hope this event shows that there are opportunities to implement these practices and discussions into our own lives,” Whitney said.

Raszler said the waste created every year by period products is huge. The average person with a period will use 11,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime, according to OrganiCup. Eliminating that waste by using a reusable menstrual cup is an effective way to lessen an individual’s impact on the environment, Raszler said.

“This event is a fantastic opportunity for those who have been looking for ways to make small changes in their lives that have a big impact,” Raszler said.

As of Oct. 22, Whitney said there were over 230 students who signed up for their free menstrual cup. Whitney said this is more than she could have ever hoped for.

“I am grateful for all the support that Sustain UNL and Code Red members have given me, and hope that this is the first step for Code Red to bring these conversations and events to UNL,” Whitney said.