Despite widespread need for menstrual products globally, they remain relatively unrepresented within sustainability research. Single-use menstrual products containing plastics and chemicals damage the environment and users' health. Reusable menstrual products (RUMPs) offer a more environmentally sustainable and healthy option; however only 22% of menstruators have used RUMPs in the UK. Understanding of consumer behaviour surrounding RUMPs is limited. This research aims to help address the gap in understanding by exploring motivations and barriers to the use of RUMPs among one key demographic: university students aged 18-25. This consumer group was chosen because they are recognised as having high behaviour change potential as they are at a formative time in life. Results from a questionnaire and follow-up interviews indicate this demographic has high awareness of RUMPs and a willingness to try them. Motivations for use included pro-environmental intent, a desire to save money and, to a lesser extent, health concerns. However, barriers included a lack of detailed knowledge about RUMPs, concerns over hygiene, convenience and use in shared houses, and product availability. Attitudes associating menstruation generally, and RUMPs specifically, as unhygienic or distasteful were found to discourage use of RUMPs. The research concludes that harnessing the potential associated with the positive environmental attitude of young people, and their willingness to try new things, may promote lifelong RUMP use. Promoting positive experiences and open discussion of menstruation should be encouraged. Addressing knowledge gaps, misinformation and harmful attitudes and norms may help to address entrenched perceptual and practical barriers to consumer behaviour change.
Gough, G., & Bromley, L. Exploring the motivations and barriers to the use of reusable menstrual products among university students