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Sarah Olney MP backs #THISTAXISPANTS

By the #ThisTaxIsPants team

#ThisTaxIsPants are thrilled to announce that Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney has spoken out in support of including sustainable period underwear within the zero VAT rate for period products.

The government’s reluctance to recognise period pants as a menstrual product reflects a dated understanding of available period products and constitutes an obstacle to the promotion of environmentally and economically sustainable alternatives.

If we’re going to make progress on the government’s environmental goals, we need to start encouraging more people to use reusable products, such as period pants. This must be our goal.

Sarah Olney MP

If you agree that the government needs to change course and support the use of reusable period products by removing the VAT on period pants, please sign our petition and share your support for the campaign on social media. Periods are NOT luxurious, and period products should not be taxed as luxury items.

Happy New Year ALL.

By Kristy Chong, CEO & Founder Modibodi ®

It hasn’t been the best start to a year BUT we do have two vaccines being deployed, a Brexit deal and the removal of the tampon tax from many sanitary products in the UK. These are all things to be positive and hopeful about.

However, we’re not content. The tax on ALL period products has NOT been axed.

In an announcement at New Year the UK Government claim that the “tampon tax has been abolished – from 1 Jan 2021 – VAT no longer applies to women’s sanitary products”

But it has not been totally abolished as the 20% tax remains on reusable period pants, which when we last checked, are a sanitary product available for use by all. 

In fact the new legislation exclusively ignores the concept of period underwear which will now be taxed higher than other sanitary wear. Disposable sanitary items, which generate tens of thousands of tonnes of waste each year, will be VAT-free, while period underwear will be taxed at the same rate as champagne, sports cars and other luxury items.

We’re pleased the Government has made a start on its removal on the tampon tax but it has got to go further. Its pledge is not yet complete until the choice on tax free period products applies to ALL products.

As creators of more sustainable and reusable period pants, we don’t believe that our customers should be penalised for choosing an environmentally friendly period product.

We are calling on the Government to extend the VAT removal to ALL reusable period pants and we need your support. As the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, looks at options for his March Budget, we need your help in raising awareness. Write to and tweet your local MPs and sign our petition to ensure that sustainable and lifestyle friendly options, like reusable period pants, are not penalised by a luxury tax on essential items.  #thistaxispants #axethetax

The Budget is a matter of weeks away, so time is of the essence – act now to make your voice heard and get this unfair tax axed once and for all.

Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for

Taking single use plastics out of circulation is no easy feat, but the answer might lie closer than we think

By Kristy Chong, CEO & Founder Modibodi ®

FemTech: The Beginnings  
The term FemTech was initially coined to describe the powerful offering from tech start-ups as they ventured into developing revolutionary products centred around women’s health needs. Whilst the beginnings were humble, we have seen a whole host of innovations enter the market which have changed the game for women and business leaders around the globe.

Fast forward to 2020, FemTech is an industry predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2025 [1]and a powerhouse that is not just tackling women’s health issues but also helping to solve major environmental and sustainability crisis that we face today.

The fearless female entrepreneurs have founded and grown businesses that are continuing to help women across the globe deal with issues such as fertility, periods, sexual wellness, pregnancy and many others. And the best is yet to come.

It is a Man’s World
Traditionally, both technology and medical sectors have been very slow in tackling women’s issues and notoriously lagged in developing products and tools that address issues predominantly affecting women. Whilst figures show that women spend 29%[2] more on healthcare than men, only 4% of overall R&D funding goes towards developing products for the women’s sector[3] therefore the market is ripe for disruption.

As a woman, a mother and entrepreneur I knew that like many others I had to take matters into my own hands.

Following an incident with incontinence whilst training for a marathon in 2011 after the birth of my second child, I recognised the need to innovate apparel that offered a dignified, supportive and sustainable solution for women to manage leaks from periods, incontinence and everything in between. After two years of product development and over  1000 scientific tests, I founded Modibodi in 2013 with a long term view of breaking taboos, opening minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option for sanitary products that’s not just for women – but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet and the environment too. Now, we’ve expanded on that notion to support all people, including men who suffer incontinence, sweating and chafing, providing them with a reusable, sustainable option with our Modibodi Men range.

As you can imagine, this was far from simple not just due to tech and business sectors being notoriously dominated by men, with figures showing that 98% of VC funding goes towards male founded products[4] but also because we were not just selling a new brand of lipstick or gym-wear, we had created a whole new product category based on talking about things that made people and retailers uncomfortable.

As a social advocate for women’s health issues and rights I knew that I needed to persevere because the amalgamation between technology and feminism is a major force of social change and one that can have wide scale impact on our world.

The Sustainability Story
The sustainability agenda has really taken off in the last couple of years, especially in our war against single use plastic.  But it occurred to me very early on that we are not doing enough and there are still areas that need urgent review.

Very early on in the development stage of Modibodi I knew that sustainable sanitary products could be a game changer in eliminating single use plastics from circulation and whilst the world and respective governments were focusing on plastic straws, I felt the change needed to come from numerous angles and streams of consumerism.

The proof of concept was starring us right in the face, the average woman uses an average of 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products in her lifetime and these convenient products come with an inconvenient environmental cost. They take 500 to 800 years to biodegrade, which means the first ever tampon and pad is still in landfill. Even more alarmingly, 8% of all waste that enters water treatment works comes from period waste, including non-flushable items such as pantyliners[5].

This is why I believe that the revolutionary innovations that are born out of the FemTech sector have capabilities to be one of the key drivers of the sustainability agenda. There is something remarkably special about a group of purpose driven businesses that can connect with consumers through a collective set of values to drive change and be a force for good.

What’s Next?
As most purpose driven business leaders will tell you, the fight never stops as the world evolves and continues to change. The sheer growth in the FemTech sector and the capabilities developed to date have changed millions of lives around the globe.

As an industry and a movement, we’ve also managed to play our part in driving the sustainability agenda and I will argue that actually the wide scale change and unity needed to continue making strides in eradicating single use plastic from our circulation will come from within the powerhouse that is FemTech.

The sheer capacity for change can be easily demonstrated if we look at the granular data and its potential for growth. If just 100,000 young girls use Modibodi alone from the start of their menstrual cycle, this would prevent 1.1 billion disposable hygiene products from ending up in landfill or 1.5 million garbage bags of waste. As of May 2020, our global base of 500,000 customers alone have prevented an estimated 2.5 million garbage bags of disposable hygiene waste from ending up in landfill or flushed into the ocean.

With the FemTech industry growing at a racing speed, I have no doubt that we are at the tipping point of pioneering wave of inventions that will take the agenda further and have the capacity and means to lead the movement. It is up to the trade organisations and world leaders to recognise the potential that such businesses and brands carry in order help to facilitate its growth trajectory. 

[1] https://venturebeat.com/2018/03/08/frost-sullivan-femtech-could-become-a-50-billion-market-by-2025/

[2] Femtech—Time for a Digital Revolution in the Women’s Health Market, January 2018

[3] Femtech—Time for a Digital Revolution in the Women’s Health Market, January 2018

[4] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/315992

[5] Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences, 2019

“The COVID-19 pandemic is deepening the global period poverty crisis”

By Kristy Chong, Modibodi® CEO and Founder

  • New reports show that one in 25 families are struggling with period poverty as result of COVID-19 [1]
  • Business leaders are calling for group action to break taboos and stigma associated with menstrual products

Growing Pains – why is the problem escalating?
The COVID-19 Pandemic has crippled numerous aspects of our lives, and quickly escalated into one of the most profound healthcare crises’ the world has faced to date. Whilst the health impact has been widely reported across the globe, we are also seeing alarming ripple effects of the pandemic in other areas, which are going unnoticed.

Through definition, period poverty is a global issue affecting billions of people who are not able to get access to period products, for financial mobility reasons or due to social mobility reasons. However, in practice, the issue perpetuates far deeper and has the capability to cripple individuals both mentally and physically, leaving a stark mark on their day to day lives.

Limited access to menstrual supplies has always been the bleak reality for many, but worryingly there has been a massive leap in period poverty during the Coronavirus pandemic. This has stemmed from the rise in unemployment figures, more people using food banks, closure of schools and educational institutions during lockdown. Even in the 21st century, it’s not unusual for girls to miss school during their time of menstruation due to stigma and lack of support available, which deprives them of proper education. The pandemic has made this even more difficult to manage and has ultimately hindered their chances of academic success.

Six months down the line, reports are showing that the number of girls in the UK who can’t afford to buy period products has tripled since the start of lockdown. Of those, 54 per cent said they had to use toilet paper instead.[2]

As a business leader, a woman, and a mother, like many others in the FemTech sphere whose mission is to tackle such issues head on, these reports bring a great sense of sadness and disappointment. Why is so little being done to open the dialogue and equip our future female leaders with the knowledge about something that is so humanly normal like the menstruation cycle?

We must do more, not just as members of the society, but as leaders who have the platform to create wide scale change through shaping our business strategy and influencing wider political movements.

Our Story
I started Modibodi® in 2013, with the mission to break taboos, open minds and offer a reusable, sustainable option for sanitary and leak proof products that are not just for women – but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet.

From day one, I knew that our long-term business strategy must go beyond simply becoming successful commercially, we wanted to change lives of women around the world, and I want to urge others to follow suit.

This is why our business philosophy is based on empowerment, liberation and education by providing a more convenient, comfortable and sustainable solution that gives them sustainable alternative to start the conversation around taboos. The taboo surrounding ‘unmentionables’ is something that we are constantly trying to get everyone to engage in and destigmatize such as menstruation, incontinence and perspiration. Dialogue and conversation with action needs to happen for wide scale change to manifest itself, and it is now more important than ever.  

An extension of this philosophy is to support the issues around women’s health and rights across the globe. In the UK, we’re partnered with Bloody Good Period, an organisation dedicated to fighting Period Poverty through providing “a sustainable flow of menstrual protection for those who can’t afford it”. As a business we’ve committed to donating 300 pairs of our underwear each month to Bloody Good Period’s donation hubs.

We have also launched a flagship “Give a Pair” programme, which aims to provide community members with Modibodi® underwear that is sustainable and reusable.  Every purchase helps a woman in need. We donate to charities locally and globally, and to date we’ve have donated over 22,000 pairs of underwear and we are committed to donating over 1,000 pairs per month.

On a large scale, to really fight against the crisis which we are facing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must recognise the importance in raising awareness of issues such as period poverty, and take active and direct action as a collective to combat it in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s simply through raising awareness, influencing the political agenda to recognize the debate as important, or donating funds or resources, every action counts.

If each business committed a portion of their time or resources towards a cause that helps fight this crisis, the results would be unfathomable. Why wait?

[1]  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/period-poverty-uk-tampons-coronavirus-lockdown-b717018.html

[2] Plan International, 2019