How can design really help? A simple yet powerful example can be The Tampoon Book by the Female Company, a project to protest against Germany’s 19% tax on tampons as “luxury goods” – and a way of getting round it.

Co-founder Ann-Sophie Claus said she and her team came up with the idea after working for more than a year to raise awareness of the tampon tax and collecting more than 175,000 signatures for a petition calling on the government to reduce the levy. Books are taxed at 7% in Germany, and so the founders of the Female Company, which sells organic sanitary products, decided to publish one and include tampons inside it. Released earlier this spring, the first print-run sold out in a day and the second in a week, said the publisher, with around 10,000 copies sold to date. Only the English-language edition is currently available. The book contains stories about menstruation from biblical times to the current era, as well as illustrations from Alica Läuger and Ana Curbelo.

According to Claus, The Tampoon Book – priced at just €3.11 (£2.78) – demonstrates that the company “will pass on the tax reduction to our customers”. One hundred copies have been sent to members of the Bundestag, Claus added, “which led to invitations from several parties”.

Tampons are currently taxed at 22% in Italy, they’re not considered primary goods (4%) and, just to let you know, even beer, tartufo and snacks are taxed at 10%. In Italy, tampoons and diapers are considered luxury goods.


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