Blume has recently had the pleasure of interviewing Cleo & Christiana, founders of The Merah Project, to learn more about their work and self care recipes. They're based in Bali, Indonesia and founded this organization to make period products more accessible and less stigmatized for people with periods.
What inspired The Merah Project?
- In Grade 11, we both took part in a class that focused on menstruation and all the issues that surround it. We weren’t aware of the problems regarding stigma, lack of access, and sustainability due to our privileged upbringing. This class opened our eyes and motivated us to make a change where we could. At the time our former high school, Green School, did not provide menstrual products so we made it our mission to stock the bathrooms with eco friendly period products. Although we were encouraged to do this project by many, we quickly learned that the stigma surrounding menstruation hindered our community wide support system. By May of 2019, all of our product boxes were filled. We teamed up to complete our senior capstone project on menstruation. We felt like we were neglecting the negative impact pads and tampons have on our planet so we knew sustainability had to be a large component of The Merah Project. We decided that we wanted to provide 500 menstrual cups to menstruators on Bali as we feel it’s the most sustainable option. The equivalent of 960,000 plastic bags are eradicated by 500 people switching to menstrual cups. We addressed the issue of access but we couldn’t ignore the stigma that surrounds periods. We made blood red scarves for people to wear when menstruating as a symbol of power, strength, and love for their period!
What does self care mean to you?
- Self care extends beyond the physical being. Sitting down and doing a face mask is beneficial but self care isn’t complete unless you look within. Being able to set boundaries for yourself, know when you need a break, finding what is good for you, knowing your worth are all valuable components in taking the best care of yourself. It’s important to acknowledge self care is a journey and not a destination. There will bumps along the way.
What are your fave bathroom essentials in your cabinet?
- An essential product to our bathroom cabinet is cold pressed coconut oil due to it’s versatile qualities. You can moisturize your hair, skin and take off your makeup at the end of the day. The best part is that it’s all natural. It may not be part of our essential products now but we wish we had the Blume First Period Starter Kit when we got our periods. When discovering our womanhood we were met with shame, fear, and a box of chemical filled diaper like pads. If we were given this box it might have mitigated some of the stigma and embarrassment we felt over our periods.
What's a non-negotiable in your self care routine?
- We feel the most important aspect to a self care routine is self love. This can manifest in many ways and it’s importance often feels negotiable with our inner conscience. It’s imperative that acts of self love are introduced at a young age. For example, placing sticky notes on your mirror full of self affirmations! We recommend the book How to Love Yourself: Cherishing the Incredible Miracle That You Are by Louise Hay. It can be listened to on multiple platforms as it is a 2 hour audio book!
What is a morning ritual that makes you feel balanced?
- We feel it’s often the smaller rituals that make the most impact. Washing your face or brushing your teeth seems like a simple task but it creates a routine, and although it sounds dramatic our day feels incomplete without these hygiene routines.
What’s your favorite life motto or piece of advice?
- Recently, we have been receiving more advice and inspirational quotes than ever, as we have just graduated high school. We are grateful for all the support everyone has given us, and we have realized that it all comes down to just that, gratitude. So, we feel this Dr. Seuss quote is fitting! "You oughta be thankful a whole heaping lot, for the people and places you're lucky you're not."
What’s one piece of advice for alleviating stress during this time?
- We would like to think that sitting in bed all day and watching Love Island or Queer Eye helps alleviate stress, but ultamitely it makes us feel more lethargic than mindful. During these times we found that it was very easy to feel unmotivated and stressed especially when trying to complete the most crucial aspects of our project. Although we don’t always enjoy getting up and moving our bodies, it makes us feel better. We like to find new and exciting ways to exercise such as chasing waterfalls and jazzercise. However, exercise doesn’t work for everyone, so a piece of advice would be to find what works best for you, even if that is binge watching Love Island!
Check them out on Instagram @themerahproject to follow Cleo & Christiana in their mission to make period products more accessible through The Merah Project.