What Barry the Octopus can teach us about periods


It’s not often you get four fab inspirational women in the same room, spinning paint and sharing period stories.

This week we met with adventurer Anna McNuff, yoga queen Shona Vertue, Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon and blogger supreme Mother Pukka to discuss the taboo around periods and create some stunning artwork at the same time.

Mother Pukka & Bryony Gordon

First up, who’d have thought a bucket of spinning paint could create such amazing canvasses and be such good fun? It was hard to go easy on the glitter but the result was something you’d be proud to hang on the wall.



As for “having the painters in”, we all had some hair-raising period stories to tell. Bryony had a tale of an escaping sanitary pad while running the marathon. Anna told of carrying a bag of used tampons with her while in the wilds of New Zealand, weeks away from the nearest bin. Shona told us that the very word for “taboo” comes from a Polynesian word that means “sacred and forbidden” and also “menstruation”. And Mother Pukka told us about Barry the Octopus…

Mother Pukka’s own mum (grandmother Pukka?) warned her against flushing tampons to save poor Barry the Octopus from getting them tangled in his tentacles. The story proved effective as she has been a binner ever since. Surely this is a children’s book in the making?

Shona Vertue

Sadly the impact of tampons on aquatic wildlife is all too real. Fishermen in Scarborough have brought up a tangle of sanitary products in their nets. Most die-hard flushers are convinced that these items are efficiently removed at the sewage treatment works, and indeed they are. However not all of them get that far.

Tampons and pads are made of absorbent material that swells up in water. They also contain a fair amount of plastic. This is a recipe for blockages, causing overflowing sewage to enter our rivers, with (not very) sanitary items sailing downstream to the beach.

Neither we nor the seagulls and fish want to share the seaside with old tampons, applicators, backing strips, cotton buds and the dreaded wet wipes. Not a pretty mental image, so instead we’ll leave you with a picture of one of the gorgeous spin paintings from the day and a reminder that using FabLittleBag can save Barry the Octopus!

Anna McNuff


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