Periods are normal; public restrooms should look like it.

 

Context

Master's of Industrial Design Thesis project

Exhibited

RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibit - June 2018

Status

Currently seeking partnership and funding opportunities.

 

There is a great deal of period positivity these days. I want to channel that energy into new public restroom norms. By solving custodian’s needs around dispensing and disposing, period products can become reliably accessible in public restrooms, on a widening scale.

 
 

What I learned:

 

1.

It’s time to Abandon Yesterday’s tampon dispensers

The basic form of public restroom period product dispenser evolved with 2 goals: to be discrete and to reinforce period products as commodities, not hygienic essentials. The bathroom equivalent of the broken window effect, the assumption of their emptiness creates a cycle of neglect and abuse. Solving these problems requires more than modernizing the exterior or making the products free.

 

2.

The true user of a public restroom is the custodian

To make period product available in public restrooms, we need to focus on the needs of custodians and facility managers, not just menstruators. People will use anything hygienic and visibly accessible, but custodians have much more complicated needs. If a cleaning, dispensing, or disposing system doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t work for anyone.

 

3.

What Custodians want: Thoughtful systems & a Culture care

Custodians have hawk eyes for spotting flaws in sloppy systems because they’re usually the ones who have to deal with their consequences. They also want a chance to be more appreciated by the people who use their restrooms; providing period products provides that opportunity.

 

4.

solving access requires solving Disposal

Unclear protocols and poor design for managing period product waste is a much bigger problem to custodians than the stocking dispensers.