Products, Process and Tips to Make 100 Menstrual Kits
One thing that really makes me happy—as a keynote speaker—is when events where I’m presenting include opportunities for service, volunteer work, or other forms of giving.
Earlier this year, I spoke at the PCMA Convening Leaders conference. One of the other speakers there was Nadya Okamoto, the founder of PERIOD, a non-profit organization with hundreds of local chapters, all creating and distributing “Period Packs” to women without access to menstrual products. In the expo hall, the event had several tables set up as volunteer station where any attendee could stop and help assemble Period Packs. I spent 45 minutes there, at various stations: stamping bags, opening boxes of products, stuffing bags, folding them closed, stapling them shut, and boxing them up.
And one of the things that struck me was how easy it would be to replicate this process to assemble more kits. (If you’re interested, here’s more information on joining or setting up your own local PERIOD chapter, or throwing party to assemble a group of volunteers.)
Recently, I decided to test it out on my own: With $200 and about 2 hours of time, you can make 100 period kits, and ensure 100 women in your community have the menstrual products they need for an entire cycle.
Depending on your budget and the amount of time you’re willing to spend, you could certainly make 250 kits, 500 kits, 1000 kits, or more. (And if you have the resources, go for it. You’d be even more help to the women in your community!)
But 100 kits made sense for me. The investment—at around $200—was reasonable, the math worked out almost perfectly with the products I was looking at, and it was a number I could see myself being able to assemble without needing a whole support team.
So 100 kits is what I compiled, and 100 kits is what I’m going to break down for you, in case you’re looking for a way to make a difference for 100 or more women in your community.
What Makes A Kit:
1 Brown Paper Lunch Bag
7 Panty Liners
4 Chocolates (because we all deserve a treat sometimes)
By The Way: This is slightly more than what PERIOD recommends for each pack. I wanted to ensure it was sufficient to serve one woman for her entire monthly cycle. More details on that math from Period.org here.
What I Ordered For 100 Kits*
I had to do a lot of math, and price out a lot of different brands, products and options to settle on this mix for my optimal 100-kit order. There are certainly other ways to do this, other brands, other places to buy, and the prices may have changed since I built my kits, but this ought to offer a pretty good starting point for you, if you want to try it yourself:
- 900 Tampons: 144-Pack of Solimo Tampons x 7. ($125.93 for 1008)
- 700 Panty Liners: 240-Pack of Solimo Panty Liners x 3. ($26.37 for 720)
- 400 Chocolates: Bulk Red Hershey Kisses x 1. ($20.99 for ~400 pieces)
- 100 Brown Paper Bags: 100 Premium Lunch Bags x 1 ($16.99 for 100)
TOTAL: $125.93 + $26.37 + $20.99 + $16.99 = $190.28** for 100 kits
You’re also going to need a stapler and at least 100 staples. If you don’t already have one, Amazon sells a stapler (with 1000 staples) for $5.99 so you could add one to this order and still come in under $200 total.
*With the above order, you’d have 20 extra liners, 108 extra tampons, and a handful of Hershey kisses leftover. You could toss extra items in as many bags as possible, make a few more kits in other bags, or simply include the extra items with your donation delivery.
**Obviously the prices may have changed since I ordered my supplies, but this should be pretty close.
Optional Kit Add-Ins to Consider
As I said, I priced out a number of different items and options before I settled on the above mix of tampons, liners, and chocolate. If you have more resources, want to go above-and-beyond, or are donating your kits to an organization that may have some additional needs, consider adding any of the below items, which would also fill 100 kits:
Process & Tips For Building 100 Kits
Since I had spent some time building kits at the event, and then assembled these 100, I learned a few time-saving tricks that may help you, too.
Set Up Bags: First, I’d open up all the paper bags and set them up in rows so they are opened and easier to fill. The quickest way to get them open, I found, is to spread open the top of the bag, reach in with a closed hand, and then open your hand as you pull it out of the bag.
Lining up all of the bags in one giant grid of 100 might seem efficient, but it makes it hard to reach the center bags from the outside edge, so I found that lining them up in a few grids made it easier. I went with groups of 40, 40 and 20.
Liners in Rows: If you ordered what I did, the 240-pack of liners actually consists of packs of 12 that are aligned neatly. I opened these as carefully as possible so that the liners stayed mostly stacked, so I could easily grab a neatly aligned stack and flip through them (like pages in a book or a deck of cards) to count out 7. I dropped the handful of seven into each bag, trying to make sure they laid down relatively flat on the bottom of the bag.
Chocolate By The Handful: For the Hershey kisses, I just walked around the open bags with the whole bag of kisses. Reach in for a handful and just flip four of them out into the bags, one-by-one with your thumb (like how you might count out coins). They usually seemed to settled in whatever empty space was left on the bottom of the bag anyway, keeping things neat.
Tampons in Bunches: Breaking to open a new box of tampons every few kits messes with momentum. After a few different attempts, I found it easiest to dump a few 36-packs out on the floor, and then put them in piles of 9 (see left). That way, I could easily grab the bundle of 9 and lay them down at the bottom of an open kit bag, on top of the liners and chocolate.
Fold & Staple: If you’ve put everything in neatly, the items should lie fairly flat at the bottom of the paper bag. You can fold the top (open) edge of the brown paper bag down to the lower fold line, crease the top of the bag, and then fold the top (creased) edge down again toward the bottom to create a neat little package. that’s easy to staple shut so nothing falls out.
Package Them Up: Assuming you ordered from Amazon like I did, you should be able to package most of the finished kits in the cardboard boxes everything was delivered in. I was able to fit 40 kits in each of the two large shipment boxes I received, and then put the remaining 20 kits and all the leftover products in a third box I already had from something else.
Other Things to Consider Before Starting:
- INDIVIDUAL PACKAGING: Since you’re going to be opening the boxes of products and handling them to assemble them into kits, the only way to be sanitary and respectful to those you’re helping is to make sure the products you buy are individually packaged. (This is the default for tampons, but not always for liners, so be sure to read descriptions/packaging).
- SHIPPING WASTE: Without a vehicle and nearby access to bulk stores, I ordered my supplies from Amazon. As a result, I ended up with three extra corrugated cardboard shipment boxes and some plastic bubble cushions, on top of the assorted individual boxes and packages that the products themselves came in . (Plus the carbon footprint impact of shipping it all). If you’re trying to be eco-conscious, consider buying locally vs. ordering, buy the biggest packages possible to reduce unnecessary packaging waste, and opt for packages without additional plastic shrink-wrap if possible.
- EXTRA ITEMS: Unless you’re good at math and open to choosing different (and potentially more expensive) products based purely on the number of items per pack, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with at least a few extra of whatever products you choose. Consider including an unsealed bag of all the extra items in your donation delivery anyway; they’ll still be used and distributed, even if they aren’t packaged up neatly.