In the past five years, there’s been a sea change in consumer attitudes towards what were traditionally known as feminine hygiene products. A U.S. study published in 2018 by the Shelton Group titled A Period of Change found that 59 per cent of consumers have either used or are considering using reusable menstrual care products. Concern about the health of the planet and the desire to act responsibly has significantly influenced purchasing decisions, notes the report.
Suzanne Siemens, CEO of Aisle, a company that has been producing reusable period products for almost 30 years, says that’s a major, welcome shift. In 2020, following a life cycle analysis of its products, the Vancouver-based company launched a new line of period underwear.
In developing its new products, the certified B Corp considered the aisle in a store that features menstrual care merchandise. In the past, it might have been packed with disposable pads and tampons. But today, there’s an array of options, from reusable menstrual cups, washable cloth pads to period undies made from organic cotton. “It should be stocked with products that people will confidently feel will work, perform and be comfortable, but also be the most sustainable solution for themselves and the planet,” says Ms. Siemens.
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Assessing the company’s environmental impact helped to understand the carbon, waste and energy impacts of its products, explains Ms. Siemens. The study took into account the materials, manufacturing and distribution of products, use and care by consumers, through to the end of use. It compared reusable products to those that are disposable.
In contrast to single-use items, the waste factor for Aisle products drops by 99 per cent. By opting for Aisle’s underwear, reports Ms. Siemens, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by up to 50 per cent.
The numbers add up. Measured from March to November 2020, Aisle has diverted 109,809 kilograms of waste (equivalent to 10,980,890 disposable pads), avoided 320,830 kilograms of C02 emissions and conserved 6,048,618 kilowatt hours of energy.
But Aisle also takes the social impact to heart, and Ms. Siemens says the company is committed to “making its products socially inclusive, infusing those values we have around intersectional feminism, inclusivity, social impact and environmental responsibility into the entire customer experience.”
Aisle partners with NGOs and non-profits dedicated to “period equity,” ensuring availability of period products to people who cannot afford or access them easily.
“It’s not just about selling a product to consumers, but creating a system where what you create can help individuals as well as contribute to global society,” she adds.
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with Canada’s Clean50. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.