Step into any public bathroom and you’ll find that on the women’s side, there are sanitary bins in every cubicle. In male bathrooms? Not so much. Although sanitary bins have largely been in place for female hygiene products, there is still the matter of discreet disposal that many men need, too.
This is something that several UK charities and organisations have been looking to tackle with the ‘Boys Need Bins’ campaign. Let’s take a look at why male sanitary bins are important, as well as what the Boys Need Bins campaign fights against, and how those involved hope to enact change.
Sanitary bins for incontinence discretion
Sanitary bins play a vital role in addressing various medical needs, including those related to stomas and incontinence.
Stomas are surgically created openings on the body made for eliminating waste when the body is unable to do so naturally. Similarly, incontinence affects people of all genders, and can often need incontinence products like pads and pull-up pants to accommodate.
In male bathrooms, the absence of sanitary bins can cause embarrassment and discomfort for those with either of these conditions. Therefore, providing sanitary bins makes sure that everyone - not just those with menstrual cycles - can access what they need without feeling stigmatised or isolated.
Accommodating every gender
Traditionally, discussions around menstrual hygiene have been limited to women’s bathrooms.
It’s important to note, though, that not everyone who menstruates identifies as a ‘woman’, and not all women menstruate.
With these gender nuances in mind, it’s clear why access to sanitary bins in every public bathroom will help to accommodate menstruating individuals of any gender.
A more inclusive menstrual hygiene system will promote dignity and respect for transgender and non-binary folks who may experience menstruation. This will break down gender-based barriers and foster a more inclusive environment for all bathroom users.
Public health and environmental impact
It’s also in the interest of cleanliness and the plumbing of public bathrooms. Without the proper disposal systems in place, many menstrual and incontinence products are flushed down the toilet or left in bins unsuitable for sanitary waste. This can turn bathrooms into a breeding ground for bacteria and unpleasant odours, increasing the risk of infection for anyone who walks in.
The ‘Boys Need Bins’ charity campaign
The main catalyst for the conversation around male sanitary bins is the “Boys Need Bins” campaign.
With support from national organisations like Prostate Cancer UK, which notes that up to 6 million people in the UK experience urinary incontinence, there is a simple request: update the law to ensure male bathrooms have access to sanitary bins.
To gather detailed insight, the campaign compiled an in-depth report based on surveys among men with incontinence problems. The report was titled “Lifting the Lid on Male Incontinence”, and was presented to MPs.
The report’s findings underscore a pressing need for change:
- Legislation for male sanitary bins - A staggering 98% of respondents expressed the need for new legislation to mandate at least one sanitary bin in male public bathrooms.
- National conversation - The report also calls for a wider discussion on male incontinence to raise awareness about the various aids that men use in their daily lives, including stomas, pads, pouches, catheters, and colostomy bags.
- Support and awareness - There is also a need for increased support for men dealing with incontinence. For example, it argues health professionals should recognise the mental and emotional support needed by men when managing incontinence.
Moving forward, it’s important to remember that this slight change in public bathroom law fosters inclusivity and affirms dignity and worth in all individuals, regardless of gender or the challenges they face.
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