Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

‘Do not flush feminine products!’ The environmental history, biohazards and norms contained in the UK sanitary bin industry 1960-2020

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 1/01/50)

Abstract

The sanitary bin and warnings such as ‘Do Not Flush Feminine Products!’ have become a feature of women’s public bathrooms throughout Britain. Begun in the 1950s by family- owned companies such as Personnel Hygiene Services and Cannon Hygiene, and developed into large corporate systems, these items and their cleaning structures have expanded into nearly every university, hospital, office, café, school and gym in the country. This article examines the three historical phases of sanitary bin technology and its meanings. First, the pioneering phase when the bin was needed to tackle the problem of flushing menstrual products and unpopular incinerators, and was developed and popularised by creative entrepreneurs. Second, the environmental phase when campaigners, especially the Women’s Environmental Network, boosted the industry as they called for more regulations regarding menstrual product waste in the 1970s and - 80s, leading to the popularisation of the bin exchange and cleaning services now commonplace throughout the UK. Third, the high-tech phase of the 2000s, when the industry sought to reinvent the object by adding no-touch technology, more chemicals, and aesthetic innovations. This article thus presents the sanitary bin in its historical context for the first time, and argues that reveals changing attitudes towards menstruation, the environment, and bathroom politics.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and History
VolumeForthcoming
Early online date1 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Sanitary bin, Menstruation, Waste, Twentieth-Century Britain, Environmental Activism, Bathroom Politics

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Blood works: Judy Chicago and menstrual art since 1970

    Rostvik, C. M., 3 Dec 2019, In : Oxford Art Journal . Advance articles, 35 p., kcz021.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Review of Nadia Okamoto's Period Power (2019)

    Rostvik, C. M., 18 Oct 2019, In : Women's History Review. 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  3. ‘Menstruation in Visual Culture’

    Rostvik, C. M. & Hughes, B., 2 Aug 2019, (In preparation) Encyclopaedia of Gender, Media and Communication,. Wiley-Blackwell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  4. Blood Work: Menstrual Cycle Scholarship Comes of Age

    Rostvik, C. M., 1 Aug 2019, In : Social History of Medicine. 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  5. Introducing: the Menstruation Research Network

    Rostvik, C. M., Bildhauer, B. M. E., Hughes, B. & Owen, L., 3 Jun 2019, The Polyphony.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationLetter

Related by journal

  1. Environment and History (Journal)

    John Finlay Mcdiarmid Clark (Editor)
    2006 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Environment and History (Journal)

    John Finlay Mcdiarmid Clark (Editor)
    20032004

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Environment and History (Journal)

    John Finlay Mcdiarmid Clark (Member of editorial board)
    2003 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 259486915

Top