Monday, February 11, 2008

Corporate Intervention

Crunchy Chicken has an excellent post today about Proctor & Gamble's campaign to keep South African girls in school (which they might otherwise miss) during their periods by providing menstrual products and even constructing new bathroom facilities for the schools. I don't watch enough tv to have heard about this before, but it sounds benevolent, doesn't it?

Not if the project a) creates a new and not insignificant source of pollution by incinerating and b) creates a dependency on consumer products that the girls cannot afford--think free infant formula, although of course the scale of perniciousness is different.

Before you say "Whoa, whoa, Simpleton, isn't this another example of disparaging use in the developing world of products you yourself enjoy?" Mais non, gentle reader. (If you have a significant buy-in to cultural "ew" buttons, you may want to avert your eyes during the next paragraph.) I've been using homemade non-disposables for years. If you're not a seamster, there are lots of other options out there. Crunchy mentions the Diva cup, while Etsy carries some more conventional alternatives (which are cute and hip, by the way). And so Crunchy's blogpost suggests that sewing may ultimately be a better alternative than being buried in paper products.

I'm not trying to talk you into anything here. If you've considered the alternatives and have a system that works for you, rock on. And clearly there may be other factors involved in African life (lack of water for laundry comes to mind) that make disposable products more feasible in the long run. Even still, my response is to look for the cynical side of corporate "benevolence."

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