At Greener Guest, we really want you to feel a connection to the suppliers whose products you buy to use in your business. We believe this is a great way for you to choose who you want to work with based on your own ethical and environmental requirements.
This time we meet Martha Silcott, the inventor and CEO of Fab Little Bag
Can you tell us, what was your primary motivation for creating Fab Little Bag?
I invented FabLittleBag because I had a horrible experience that I now commonly call the “Hand Bag Smuggle” when faced with no bin to dispose of sanitary products in my friends downstairs loo. The more I looked into it, the more I was horrified at the imapct of flushing tampons and pads down the toilet. I knew I had to do something about it and it’s been a long and hard struggle to get to where we are now, but nothing makes me happier than receiving emails and reviews telling us what a positive difference FabLittleBag makes.
What problem does FabLittleBag solve?
It might just be one little bag but it really does solve a lot of problems, both societal and environmental. You might not be aware but taboos around periods are still very much in existence and vary in their intensity from country to country and person to person.
Despite being completely natural periods can still feel very awkward to manage especially outside of ones own home. If using tampons and pads then it is often the disposal of these which causes the most awkwardness and that can impact the aquatic environment the most.
Women are essentially divided into either being a Flusher or a Binner of their used period products. In our experience most Flushers are what we describe as Gobsmacked Flushers because they genuinely do not realise that flushing sanitary items doesn’t just cause blockages but it can also lead to the pollution of the rivers and oceans with the period products they have flushed. As most period products contain high level of plastic this is direct plastic pollution into the ocean.
What makes FabLittleBag a great fit for the hospitality sector?
Putting FLB in a dispenser in all your cubicles tells your customers that you’ve thought about their needs, as well as those of the environment, and are providing a practical solution to helps.
Adding FLB to room amenities provides education, but also creates a 5* guest experience, not to mention reducing blockages, preventing awkwardness for staff and guests, as well as reducing the time it takes to empty bathroom bins.
It can help to put yourself in your guests and customers shoes:
I don’t know about you but there is a lot of excitement when you first arrive at a hotel. Will it exceed your expectations or disappoint?
The initial experience at check-in is usually a good indication.
The second point of excitement is when you first enter your room. For me it’s always about the view, and of course the bed; is it too soft, too firm or in classic Goldilocks style, just right?
Thirdly there is the bathroom. How modern is it, do things smell nice, what eco-aware steps have they taken? Do they acknowledge that that I may need to manage my period over the next days/weeks?
The answer to the latter is often, er…no!
You have one of 3 realities in the hotel:
They completely ignore that fact that women have periods; there is only toilet roll and a bin.
They acknowledge women have periods and provide an amorphous, semi see-through, non-sealing bag either made from fossil fuel based plastic or paper
They are totally with the programme and have FabLittleBags in the loos!
For the Binners, they wrap up their used tampons or pads in reams of toilet roll and put them in the bin. If the hotel room has a small bathroom bin and the guest happens to have heavy periods, this can fil up pretty rapidly. Many guests feel awkward about the fact that this bin will be emptied by the cleaner who will have to deal with all their period waste.
In communal toilets there might be a sanitary bin specifically designed for period products. However flushers will ignore this and continue to flush. If you are doing the right thing and putting these items into the trash, then a variety of things happen:
- Some wrap them up using toilet roll, or using the plastic packaging of the new product
- Others put them straight into bin with no wrapping, leading to other people’s products contaminating the bin, especially around the lid
- Sometimes the bins just get full
- Other times bins simply do not work properly. Lids might not open which then forces the binners into a position of either flushing their period product down the toilet or doing the Handbag Smuggle. Neither has a good outcome!
Finally, what practical advice would you offer to hotels and hospitality businesses that want to help their guests have a better disposal experience?
FabLittleBag is just as good for your business as it is for your guests and customers. For example:
There are cost savings to be made associated with less water use from flushing, less toilet paper consumption and less plumbing costs to pay to sort out blockages. It’s a much more pleasant experience for housekeepers and cleaners to emtpy a bin filled with sealed bags.
Reputationally, you are demonstrating your efforts to keep unnecessary pollution from entering waste streams and ultimately our seas and oceans and your message is clear:
We care about the environment, we care about you and we have done something positive about this. Staying in a hotel or going out for dinner should be a relaxing stress-free time for guests and customers. Businesses need to think about their customers needs and do so in the context of what is also best for the environment.
Fabbing is a 3-way win; a win for the guest, a win for the environment and a win for the business.
Do Good – Feel Good.
- Less flushing
- Less toilet paper consumption
- Fewer blockages
- Happier cleaners
- Happier guests!