To mark International Women’s Day, we are proud to launch our new Champions for Change series – celebrating entrepreneurs making a positive impact – with Celia Pool, the co-founder of DAME.
Celia Pool is on a mission to take the single use plastic out of our period products. With her partner Alec Mills, she set up DAME in 2015 from her bedroom. To pair with the brand’s toxic-free organic cotton tampons, they have launched the world’s first reusable applicator, the D, which won a Dezeen Design Award in 2018 . As well as cutting out the plastic – 1.3 billion plastic tampon applicators are thrown away every year in the UK alone – they have also introduced reusable sanitary towels. Pool is determined to change the conversation around periods. “DAME wants to improve the world for women and that drives everything we do,” she says. “Our goal is to make period products for the planet by making menstruation more acceptable, accessible, and sustainable.”
Why did you decide to start DAME?
DAME originally started because we wanted to offer women more convenience and choice when buying their period products but quite quickly we saw that the products they were buying were unregulated in the EU and filled with all sorts of ingredients that people didn’t know about – and a lot of that was plastic. So we decided to scrap our original business and go off and design our own products starting with the world’s first reusable tampon applicator. And what started as me and my co-founder in my bedroom packing boxes and getting things out has now grown into a brand that’s stocked in Ocado, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Boots. Not only that but we’ve featured on 200 London buses last month and we have an ad in Vogue so it’s gone a bit bonkers. But the really exciting thing is that we’ve got so much more work to do in order to really achieve our goal of being able to offer every person on the planet a sustainable period product.
How is DAME contributing to a more sustainable future?
I guess it’s really twofold. First of all with our products; a hundred billion period products are thrown away every year and the majority of these are made with synthetics and plastics, which are going to stick around for ages and we really want to reduce that down, ideally to zero but we’re going to try to get it as low as possible. And the second thing is what DAME does as a business. We’re B Corp so we really believe in business for good and that means that we really want to look at every aspect of our business and make sure it’s being as sustainable as it can. For example, we’re carbon negative, that means that we offset more carbon than we put out.
To be honest, we knew we wanted to go after tampons first of all. One person on average uses a thousand of those little tampon applicators in their lifetime so we knew we wanted to go after that first because they touch the body for two seconds and then they’re chucked in the bin and at best they go to landfills, at worst they go in the ocean. But we knew that the bigger fish was that pad. Twice as many people in the UK use pads instead of tampons so we knew that was a massive amount of waste that we needed to tackle. Our reusable pads are softer, thinner, drier, greener than any other on the market. And when you think that each packet of pads has on average the equivalent of four plastic shopping bags worth of plastic in it we knew that that was something that we wanted to tackle. But we really want to go further with our impact and there are many more products that we want to bring out so we can make sure that everyone has access to the right kind of period product for them.
What kind of impact would you like DAME to have in the next five years?
It’s to convert as many people across to reusable period products as possible. And I just like to point out that it doesn’t have to be DAME’s reusable period products, it can be anything. As long as people can actually see that this is a solution for them and that it works just as well as anything else out there. And then the big hope from that is to actually make sure that people view that with all reusable products. We have to stop chucking things away. We have to start thinking really properly about what we buy and how we use it and making sure that we can buy reusable as much as possible.
It’s the one I’ve been boring everyone I know about; it’s called Your Undivided Attention from the Center for Humane Technology. If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma, it’s made by the same guys but they go into a lot more details and it blew my mind! You really learn about all these tricks and things that happen to make social media much more addictive for us. And about how our attention is essentially being monetised and it’s fascinating, I would heavily recommend to get into it. You will want to delete everything on your phone and you’ll want to put it all back on again and it helps you think about how tech can really work with us in our lives and how we really need to hold these big companies into account for what they’re doing to the world.
To find out more about reusable period products, go to DAME.