Megan Frances

Megan Frances Bell is a final year journalism student with a passion for all things Irish. Holding the position of Editor throughout various publications in her four years, she rounded out her degree as Editor-in-Chief of sustainable magazine, Amárach. Her passion for all things Irish and women’s issues can be seen in her final texts; ‘Surfing in style with Big Style’ and ‘Why does sustainable menstruation matter?’. Megan is hoping to continue from this degree into a successful career in publishing.  

Surfing in style with Big Style

Across the country, we have begun to become more connected to the water around our island. During lockdown, sea swimming became a popular activity, and with most of the country taking staycations due to travel restrictions, water sports on the west coast also grew in popularity. are 10 years old this year. On both the east and west coast, they have gotten people out on the water and connecting with their surroundings through surfing, yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, and kitesurfing.  
The founder of Big Style, Kris, started out with a van in Ringsend in 2013. He ran kitesurfing lessons as well as kitesurfing trips around Ireland and even as far as Sri Lanka and Kenya. Upon meeting his current business partner in 2016, things began to ramp up a gear.  
By 2020, stand-up paddleboarding by Big Style had become a crucial part of the Dun Laoghaire pier. The Atlantic Lodge on the west coast also grew in popularity. From Dublin to Mayo, locals and tourists alike are now connecting themselves to the sea with Big Style.  
Sustainability is at the core of what Big Style do. Their lodge and their pier base are all hand built by the team, using sustainable and recycled materials. “We’ve always built everything ourselves, it’s a big part of the business. It’s all about getting the hands dirty”.  
But Kris is aware that they want to become even more sustainability friendly over time. “We did some deals with GROWN Clothing a sustainable and Irish fashion brand. And then COVID happened, and we were clinging on to survive”.  
Moving forward in 2023, Big Style are continuing with their partnership with GROWN. Investing in native planting with the company. “That’s my big project for 2023. Get trees planted on old farmland, disused land, and  non-arable land”. In Dun Laoghaire, the base is entirely off-grid as it is all run by solar power. The team are also looking into water harvesting methods around the pier.  
“You don’t need a handful of eco-warriors; you need everybody trying their best”.  
Residents visiting the lodge are encouraged to take a train or a bus over to Mayo instead of driving to reduce their carbon footprint. “We grow some of our own food for the lodge in the garden. We are also vegetarian in the lodge, which of course has its environmental impact”.  
“The lodge looks directly over the sunset in Clare Island, and the sauna looks at the same view. We get people in involved in the areas around them”. Everything Big Style do is a vessel for connecting people with the outdoors.  
“We’re getting people into what we call a ‘splash and dash’. You get in, you get amongst the water, you get a few waves to the face, and you get a feel for the strength and the power of the water”. 

Why does sustainable menstruation matter?

Single-use products are one of the largest contributors to global waste affecting our planet. Single-use menstrual products are one of the biggest and most regular contributors to this waste.  
But how can we have greener periods? And what is the importance of becoming sustainably aware of menstruation? 
According to, 800 million people menstruate on any given day. The average person who menstruates does so for 40 years of their life. To break that down further that 6.5 years spent consecutively menstruating.  
A huge impact can be seen of the use of single use menstrual products. Disposable menstrual products are seen as one time use products, for example disposable pads and tampons. There is a huge environmental impact and cost impact of these products. have estimated that 14 billion kilograms worth of menstrual products will end up in landfills and oceans, just in 2022 alone. That equal to 62 large cargo ships worth of waste. Menstrual products often 90% plastic, and the use of these products leaves organic matter behind. This makes them difficult to recycle leading to them being incinerated by most countries. 
Inappropriate disposable of these products also contributes to a bigger issue. Menstrual products are one of the most commonly found items in beach clean ups, with an average of 5 products of menstrual waste being picked up every 100m on UK beaches.  
Not only does the recycling of these products lead to large amounts of waste, but the production of these products also has a high use of fossil fuels. The production of the raw materials, the manufacturing and the transportation of these single use products also contributes to climate change.  
The financial cost of a period is often a burden for people who menstruate. The average person spends 3,209 euro on menstruation in a lifetime.  
Greenwashing has also been seen the production and sale of menstrual products. Many new products being labelled eco-friendly are marketed by using words like “organic”, “biodegradable”, and “non-toxic”. But unfortunately, there is not clear evidence to suggest that these products are any better for the planet that regular disposable period products. These eco-friendly products are also the more expensive option, with a lifetime cost of 4,242 euros.  
In recent years there has been a push to make periods more sustainable for the planet while being equally cost affective for the person using these products. Reusable products tend to have a longer life, leading to them having a low environmental impact while being cost affective. But despite these benefits, why aren’t reusable products more commonly used? And what are the best products to use to have a greener period?  
With reusable products there is often an accessibility issue and a difficult initial learning curve. A stigma surrounding periods and period blood contributes to this. People have been socially conditioned to thinking that period blood is unclean. A person culture or community may also contribute to how some view period blood. This leads to some not wanting to use reusable period products and they have to be washed and handled after use.  
Reusable products have a better outlook for the planet and for the person. They often last years and produce 5,000 times less waste than disposable products in a period lifetime. Although the initial cost of purchasing a reusable product tends to be high, they’re more low cost in the long term. The average cost of reusable products in a lifetime is on average 310 euro, almost 30 times less than the cost of disposable products. The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to changing to more reusable products. The variety of reusable products has exploded over recent years, making the more accessible to a wider group of people. The three most popular products are explained below: 
Reusable cloths pads and liners.  
These are the reusable version of pads and are often handmade at home making them super cost effective. One good quality reusable can replace almost 238 disposable pads! 
Menstrual cups and discs. 
These are made of medical-grade silicone and are worn internally to replace tampons. One menstrual cup can replace nearly 2640 disposable pads and tampons! 
Period underwear.  
Period underwear are made to look and feel like a regular pair of underwear, the added difference is that the gusset of the underwear is made of an extra absorbent material. One good pair of period underwear can replace up to 81 disposable pads!