Final year project
Encouraging the use of reusable menstrual cups [Read more]
Sustainable period management
4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used every year in the UK alone, including sanitary pads, tampons, and panty liners. The average product is 90% plastic and many of these items end up blocking up our sewer systems or entering our rivers and oceans. The solution lies in making sustainable menstrual cups as convenient and user friendly as disposables.
There are three main problem areas to focus on. The first is rinsing the cup between each use when there is no access to a sink. When the user removes their cup, it is messy, and their hand gets dirty.
The second problem area is sterilising the cup between each period. Mooncup recommend boiling the cup for 5-7 minutes in a pan on the stove. This is less than ideal as it involves cooking equipment and close proximity to food.
The third problem is storing the cup safely between periods.
The proposed product comes in two modules: a portable pod that allows the user to empty and clean their menstrual cup on the go, and an at home station that sterilises the menstrual cup and stores it and the pod between periods. The pod rinses the menstrual cup without the need for running water using a jet of water to blast the blood off the cup. The waste is then ejected out of the bottom and down the toilet. The pod can be operated with just the clean hand, whilst only the dirty hand comes into contact with the cup.
Currently, women only feel comfortable using a menstrual cup when they can guarantee access to a bathroom with a private sink, and most don't trust public toilet sinks to be clean enough. It is my belief that this product can eliminate the problem and make the use of menstrual cups more enjoyable.
Method of cleaning
The cleaning process works by injecting a jet of water into the bottom of the cup by pressing on the attached silicone water chamber with a thumb. Inside the pod are two silicone sleeves that create a watertight seal. The shape of these sleeves and the cup itself direct the water over the whole surface and out the bottom. The water chamber can be filled from bottled water, at home, or from a public sink. As the external pod does not reveal its function, women shouldn't feel any embarrassment doing this in public. It is also virtually silent when being used.
The mechanism was prototyped using a balloon, theatre blood, and a Lucozade bottle cap to demonstrate the effectiveness of the mechanism. This method proved to be very efficient and helped to calculate the volume of water needed, and the overall size of the pod.
The pod internals
The pod consists of twelve components, which include 3 different materials. The pod is modular, therefore if certain parts wear out faster, they can be replaced. This also helps with the products end of life, as the materials can be separated and recycled easily.
Sterilising and storage
The at home station sterilises the cup using steam from the privacy of the user’s bathroom or bedroom. The user simply fills their cup with water and pours it into the steriliser base. Then, the pod is partially disassembled and reconfigured so that all the parts can be slotted onto the base. First, the hinged lid slides off, as it is on rails. Next, the bottom half is turned upside down and slotted onto the steriliser using another identical rail system. Finally, the top half tessellates with the bottom half and rests on top. The bottom cap is pulled up to allow the steam to escape. Once secured, the hot plate activates and sterilises the cup and pod all together in 6 minutes.
The steriliser internals
This cross sectional view shows how each part works in the pod configuration, and in the steriliser configuration. The design means that the pod gets sterilised at the same time as the cup.
Protein of the future
In the year 2050, the global population is predicted to have reached 10 billion. This means that existing farmland
productivity will no longer be able enough to sustain the global population. Animals are the middlemen when it comes to protein. They absorb protein from the vegetation they consume, which they then pass on to humans. On average, animals consume six times more protein than they produce, making them wildly inefficient for protein transfer. Meat, dairy, egg, and fish farming accounts for 83% of the world’s farmland, yet they only provide 18% of the world’s calorie intake.
Taking inspiration from countries such as Thailand and Mexico, where insects are regularly eaten as part of the local diet, I investigated crickets as an alternative protein source. They contain around 65% pure protein and live on scrap foods, such as potato peelings, that would otherwise go to waste.
The home cricket farm
The home cricket farm gives students access to a cheap, nutritionally valuable protein source that is fed using waste food. This project focused on encouraging a change of lifestyle for the user by investigating the reasons behind the unpopularity of insects in western countries.
The farm is designed to keep the user engaged in the process of raising the crickets, whilst stopping them from developing any kind of emotional attachment to the crickets. This was achieved by using a tactile interface that promotes ongoing intrigue in the farm, and by making the farm completely opaque. Inside, there is a system of rotating nets that allow the user to easily access the food, egg, and water trays whilst keeping the crickets and user separate.
Sustainability, user centred design, and inspiring joy in our everyday lives are my fundamental design beliefs.
Sustainability is an essential part of my work, and the reason I decided to become a designer. My two main projects this year have been concentrated on encouraging women to use reusable menstrual cups, and on the future of global food production.
User centred design is always at the core of my process. As designers, we must have a complete and detailed understanding of our users in order to design products that fully meet their needs and wants. My design process focuses on problem solving and enhancing the user's enjoyment of the world around them. I have a particular interest in designing products that provoke joy and intrigue. I believe that design can have the power to provoke emotional responses in users that can alter their perceptions and general outlook of life.
I also love playing around with simple mechanisms and manipulating them for use in different processes and products. This is demonstrated well in my Clean Bean project, which uses a water injection process, a redesigned 'sports cap' mechanism, and a lid based on the click of a ball point pen.
Final year project
Encouraging the use of reusable menstrual cups
Oakham School Design Prize 2015 - Best A-Level Project
During my GCSEs and A-Levels, I shadowed the set designer within the Drama Department. I helped with constructing and operating the elaborate sets, which usually consisted of one or two clever moving elements, such as a vanishing staircase or revolving platform.
I have also worked at RPC Plastics, Rutland, learning primarily about design for manufacture and designing moulds for the injection moulding process.
September 2018 - September 2019
Junior Designer, Spliced Studios