A Kapiti woman has started an initiative to help combat "period poverty" and is now spreading the campaign into Horowhenua.
Ange Murch has been using social media to raise awareness that many women, particularly young women, struggle to afford the high ongoing cost of sanitary items.
She has been raising money to enable her to offer menstrual cups for sale at a fraction of retail, and asking women who buy them to purchase another, which will then be donated to a young woman in need.
Menstrual cups are reusable, washable receptacles made from soft, medical grade silicone, which are worn internally. They can remove the need for other sanitary items to be purchased every month as they last for a number of years.
Ms Murch is selling the cups at $5 each and they are available in two sizes, one for women under 25 and those who have never had a baby, and the other for those over 25 or have given birth.
"By purchasing a cup from me and/or donating one, you are helping a girl or woman in need," she said.
"These cups will last up to 15 years each. They are easy to use and look after, and each cup comes with an easy to follow set of instructions."
Ms Murch said the initiative has been going really well in Kapiti, and has attracted a lot of interest from women.
"I started it after hearing a friend complaining each month about how expensive it was for sanitary items," she said.
"It got me thinking and then I read about some girls not going to school [when they have their period] because they didn't have sanitary protection. I thought, 'that can't be happening' so I started Googling."
She initially raised funds via a Givealittle page and sourced a wholesale supplier for the cups who was able to supply them cheaply as they are not in branded, retail packaging.
The page raised $1200, so the first order was placed in the hope the cups would sell, as there is no profit margin and Ms Murch makes no money from the scheme.
An enthusiastic response meant the cups were sold and further orders placed, with most women choosing to buy a cup for themselves and donate one too.
To distribute the donated cups, Ms Murch has approached local colleges as well as support services for young people, such as Kapiti Youth Support.
Cups were also donated to Women's Refuge and other organisations that could get them to women who need them.
She is looking at how they might be distributed in Horowhenua.
As well as menstrual cups, Ms Murch is selling reusable pads, which are made of soft bamboo fibre and charcoal encased in a waterproof lining.
They can be easily washed and come with a waterproof bag to store them in.
Along with the cost-saving, the reusable items also contribute to a cleaner environment, reducing the number of disposable sanitary items discarded into landfill or waterways.
¦ For further information about supporting the initiative, donating or purchasing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/Pay-it-forward-Lotus-Cups-342752042899655