As part of the 2021-22 Stockport Schools Climate Assembly, two Year 9 (now Year 10) students from Reddish Vale High School came up with an idea and developed a project for Stockport Schools to access grants to buy eco-friendly, reusable period products for their students.
Blair Williams and Ace Renshaw delivered a provocative and insightful presentation at the event which won the school youth vote with an overwhelming majority. The students then presented their project idea to Stockport Council’s cabinet and full council meeting, which also received unwavering support with funding approved for the project to be rolled out across the Stockport borough alongside a supporting training film offering essential information for schools.
After the project received support from the Council and students, Blair and Ace were then interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester where they spoke confidently and passionately about this unique project.
The project developed further with input from the Stockport CAN Team (Climate Action Now) teachers, pupils, education colleagues, public health and school nurses to develop a response (associated with previous work on period poverty) which led to the creation of a grant scheme available to all schools, colleges and non-educational youth support settings.
Since the launch of the project, 20 Stockport schools have applied for and received the grant to supply eco-friendly products, impacting thousands of children and young people across Stockport. Six are high schools, 13 are primary schools, and one is a SEND school.
This has potentially reached around 3,000 young people. A simple switch from single-use plastic to biodegradable or reusable period products would avoid 33 million pieces of period waste over that group’s lifetime.
Though the environmental benefit is clear, the carbon saving is more difficult to calculate as it depends on which eco product a person chooses. For example, one school has purchased period pants for 20 young women which equates to a 530 kg carbon saving.
Liz Atherton, Transformation Project Manager with Stockport Council’s Climate Action Now team said,
“The project is tackling so much more than the environment and reducing waste, it’s helping young people access reusable period products during the cost-of-living crisis, which also reduces the amount of young people skipping schools because of their periods. In addition, we’re also getting more people talking about, and normalizing, how we speak about periods and the range of eco-friendly products out there. The project has also affected internal change at Stockport Council, with eco-friendly period products on offer to employees.”
Blair and Ace are two young people who are inspiring their peers and succeeding in taking a great idea into the mainstream and making a positive difference to the lives of young people. The first round of funding closed for applications in May, so schools can’t currently apply for funding for Eco Period Products however, they will be able to very soon through the Stockport CAN fund during the summer – watch this space.
For more information on this project taking place in Stockport you can view the training video. Both Blair and Ace would love to see similar schemes inspired by their project rolled-out across Greater Manchester schools.