by Emily Dobby
It’s 2021. COVID-19 has killed 2.73 million people around the globe. Deadly fires have swept across nations and catastrophic hurricanes have battered lands. And thousands of tampons and pads are rapidly collecting in landfills.
Tampons and pads are often not recyclable; tampons are wrapped in plastic, often with a plastic applicator, and 90% of a pad is plastic. The typical tampon user will use 15,000 tampons in their entire lifetime and all that waste goes directly into a landfill.
Tampons flushed down the toilet can end up in the ocean when sewer systems falter. In fact, Tampon applicators are the fifth most common source of waste on beaches. In one day, the Ocean Conservancy Project found almost 27,000 tampons washed up on the world’s beaches.
It takes a regular disposable pad approximately 300 hundred plus years to break down in a landfill.
Climate change is imminent and making small changes to your lifestyle can be impactful. One change you can make is committing to using sustainable, period products. Every effort, however small, helps to protect the future of our environment. If you knew you could reduce your waste up to 93% by using sustainable period care, would you?
When we support sustainable period care, we are also supporting female owned companies whose mission is to spark open dialogue surrounding the stigma of menstrual blood. Why does period blood make us uncomfortable when other blood doesn’t? Where does this conditioning come from? The companies listed below aim to start a conversation around periods to help end an age old stigma.
These companies are transparent in terms of what materials are used in their products. A few provide accessibility to drive period equity in Canada since one in three Canadians under 25 can’t afford period care each month. 14 percent of Canadian women have been forced to resort to using unhygienic alternatives to period products like socks, rags or old t-shirts and sometimes worse. “Period Poverty,” is very much a harsh reality for many in our country.
Progress and innovation in the period care industry has lagged behind other industries even though there is an increased number of people who need period products year after year as our population grows.
Here are some Canadian sustainable period care companies at the forefront of the menstrual revolution: true disruptors in the period care industry.
The Kindness Factory
Victoria-based company The Kindness Factory was founded in March 2020 in response to a need for reusable masks. The company has since grown to 18 people: 1 founder, 3 employees, and 14 contractors.
While masks will be less common in the future, the team continues being kind to the planet by developing other high-quality reusable products.
The Kindness Factory has changed the face of period care quite literally with the creation of a reusable pad, called the “zero pad”. Reusable pads are more comfortable than disposable ones and create significantly less waste.
They’re also designed to last up to five years, are washer and dryer friendly and made with the world’s leading brand of super absorbent fabric. The Kindness Factory creates pads of multiple lengths with a stay in place grip.
“Our products are not only sustainable, but were developed and tested by people who actually use them. So not only are they better for the environment, they’re just a better product, period,” says CEO Karmen McNamara
Established in 2013, Knix was one of the first companies to launch leakproof underwear and holds multiple patents.
Their machine-washable bikini underwear features patented leakproof technology that absorbs up to 3 tsp of liquid. Their underwear comes in a variety of styles and colours.
Victoria-based company Get Joni prioritizes accessibility, transparency and openness with a mission to advance period equity in Canada. Someone living in a remote community in Canada will pay the same price for organic period care as someone living in a city.
For those who are unable to afford period care, Get Joni is working with partners across Canada through our #getjonigivejoni one-for-one to ensure that they don’t go without.
Their joni pad is made of organic bamboo that is 3x softer and 3x more absorbent than organic cotton. The pads biodegrade on average 92% in 6 months.
Joni gives you the option to select their organic pads with a monthly subscription. They are open about every ingredient used on their site.
The company is bringing in a full product line of innovative and accessible reusable and disposable products to promote bodily agency. All information about these products is available here: https://www.frontfundr.com/joni. They have patent-pending status on an easy release Joni cup as well as period underwear.
“At Joni, sustainable period care is about more than just using top quality organic and all-natural ingredients for our products. Considering that it takes over 300+ years for conventional plastic pads to break down, we want to use product innovation to move the dial in the industry and provide people who menstruate with accessible sustainable options regardless of their location or socioeconomic status because we believe that safe and sustainable period care is a basic human right,” says co-founder Linda Biggs.
The concept of menstrual cups is nothing new; it actually originated in the 1930’s. Nevertheless, the founders at DivaCup were the first to think of and create a reusable menstrual cup.
Established in 2002, Diva’s founders, Francine Chambers and her daughter, Carinne Chambers-Saini, have become innovators in the menstrual care industry, passionately following their dream to create a menstrual cup, which is a healthy and effective alternative to disposables
DivaCup is made from 100% medical grade silicone with no chemicals, plastic or dyes. The medical grade silicone is more sanitary, sustainable and long lasting. With the proper care, the DivaCup can be used up to to 3 years for 12 hour stretches. Diva also offers complimentary products to help care for your cup.
“Sustainability has always been at the forefront of what we do at Diva and it needs to be in conversation around menstrual care. It goes beyond the cup for us, we’re always looking at the full lifecycle of our products. We’re so proud to announce our partnership with TerraCycle to create DivaRecycles, the first ever recycling program for menstrual cups. We believe that this will be integral to the future of sustainable period care,” says founder and CEO of Diva International, Carinne Chambers-Saini
Nixit is a suction-free cup made with soft, flexible, medical grade BPA free silicone. The circular shape easily conforms to your body and the cup lasts up to five years with 12 hour protection.
CEO Rachael Newton started Nixit when she was looking to reduce her household waste. She discovered bell shaped menstrual cups that use suction to stay in place and wanted to create a suction free option. Nixit is one size and does not use suction to stay in place. There are no confusing sizes or awkward folds needed to use it.
“Sustainable period care means finding products that are better for the environment, but also better for our bodies. There is still a lot of stigma and shame that surrounds periods. Part of our mission is to educate people on all of the options that are available to them and to engage in conversations around periods and period care. By having open and honest conversations with our family and friends about periods, and making it a normal topic of conversation we hope to normalize periods. By doing this, menstruators just start off in a much better place and are able to choose the period care product that is best for them,” says CEO Rachael Newton.
Prefer using tampons? Try plastic-free applicators
Some people feel most comfortable with tampons. You could start by removing plastic applicators from your routine. Plastic tampon applicators cause sewage problems, and overflow into the ocean. You also don’t need the applicator.
The good news is, as women, we have more choices in period care than ever before. And with more Canadian companies taking on the mantle of environmental sustainability, it’s also another way for us to do our part and lessen our carbon footprint.