Welcome to the first article in the Friends of 2 Minute interview series! My name is Lottie and I am the Communications Coordinator here at The 2 Minute Foundation. We will be catching up with an inspirational campaigner every week, sharing their story, provoking conversation and hopefully sparking motivation for other eco-activists!
This week I spoke with eco-warrior and period plastic fighter Ella Daish. Ella first started campaigning to end period plastic in 2018 and has taken on big names such as Tesco, Procter and Gamble and Boots. She is a true activist and we are proud to support Ella and call her our friend. Find out what she’s been up to recently by reading on…
1. Hey Ella, thanks for taking the time to chat to us! How was 2020 for you in a nutshell?
I think 2020 was a chaotic year for all of us. It had its ups and downs and I would be lying if I said it hadn’t been challenging. Despite the barriers of the pandemic, in 2020 the campaign resulted in some fantastic changes. Aldi and Superdrug removed plastic applicators from their products and other decision makers developed and launched their own eco-friendly ranges too.
I’m really proud of my work in Wales as well. They’ve listened to my calls for them to spend their period poverty funding sustainably. In 2020, three Welsh local authorities joined Caerphilly Council by committing to spending 100% of their funding on eco-friendly products. The Welsh Government has stipulated 50% of funding across Wales must be spent in this way!
2. Did you launch any campaigns in 2020 and what was the outcome?
The #EndPeriodPlastic campaign had a few different actions happening throughout the year. In September we focused on Tampax, calling on them to remove plastic applicators from their products. As part of this action, I wanted to create something that Tampax could not ignore, that would highlight the extent of the problem. I made a giant plastic tampon applicator. It stands at 6ft tall and is made of over 1,200 Tampax applicators collected from 15 different locations across the UK by brilliant campaign supporters, including some of the #2minutebeachclean family!
Unfortunately, the response from Tampax was disappointing but unsurprising. Manufacturers often like to put the ownership of the problem onto the consumer. However they have got the money and resources to change, and they must! This isn’t over and there will be more happening in the future.
3. Do you have any big plans for 2021? Tell us about your campaigns for the coming year.
In January, the UK Government abolished the VAT on menstrual products like tampons, pads and menstrual cups, which is fantastic. However they failed to include period pants which continue to be taxed at 20% because they classify them as a garment.
I’ve started a campaign with Ruby Raut, founder of Wuka Wear, calling for the UK Government to drop the tax on period pants. They must get behind this call and take action by removing the tax to help make sustainable options economically viable for all who menstruate, so we can stem the tide of unnecessary waste. You can read more about this campaign and how you can take action with us here.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in the new year?
It’s really hard to plan this year in the current climate as everything with the pandemic is so uncertain. However I will be continuing to hold companies accountable, challenging and calling out bad practices, and focusing on the steps that must be taken for a better future.
5. Is there anything you’d like to encourage people to do differently this year?
We often think that someone else will solve a problem, but I believe that nothing will ever change if we don’t address the issue and directly do something about it ourselves. That’s why this year I would urge anyone to raise their voice and take action for a cause they care about because we really can all make a difference.
I’d also encourage people to change the way they spend to match their ethics. If a brand you buy from is doing something wrong, whether it’s a fast fashion brand not paying their garment workers, or a global company not curbing their plastic output, boycott them and spend instead with companies that are doing it right. If doing the right thing isn’t their jam, seeing their profits going down will force them to act.
6. What did you learn from 2020?
The biggest thing I learnt in 2020 is the power of collaboration. Joining forces with individuals, groups and charities to raise our voices and collectively take action and raise awareness, drives change.
7. You may have heard of our #2minutesofpositivity campaign – what small thing do you do each day to put a smile on your face?
Although it is longer than 2 minutes, in January I started carving out time each morning to do yoga and it has had such a positive impact on me, both mentally and physically. Before the pandemic, I, like many of us, was living at a thousand miles per hour every day. I didn’t take any time out and towards the end of last year I burnt out. Giving yourself permission each day to switch off and do something for no one else but you is really important.
Next week I’ll be talking to the enthusiastic founder of Trash Free Trails, Dom Ferriss.