Sustainable Period Care: the Urgent Need for Change

August 26, 2020

By Frances Lucraft

We speak with our founder, Fran Lucraft, about the journey that led her to launch Grace & Green in January 2019, and why she believes we should all be making the switch to natural, organic and sustainable period care. Fran also sheds some invaluable light on why plastic is such a problem in the industry.

Why do we need sustainable period care?

Periods. Arguably one of the most natural and healthy processes of a woman’s life. However, in some cultures, period taboos and shaming have impacted the types of products women use, how they are made, and how we dispose of them. The majority of period products are in fact made from crude oil – plastic. A conventional sanitary pad may well contain a higher percentage of plastic than cotton, with some estimates of upwards of 90%. A pack of menstrual pads is equivalent to almost five plastic bags. The rest of a pad is made from wood pulps, usually from the Eucalyptus tree. Once native to Australia, Eucalyptus is now intensively produced and farmed in places like Brazil, where the exceptional biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest is destroyed to plant mass rows of trees that offer little space for wildlife and can’t capture carbon as effectively. Conventional tampons have plastic in them too – the string and the applicators are made from a polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). The rest is non-organic cotton, rayon, or a combination of the two.

Plastic. A resource we are all so dependent on and used to. It’s durable, light and functional. Yet our planet is literally choking with this substance that does not go away. Our oceans and waterways bear the brunt of our plastic pandemic. Up to 12.7m tons of plastic end up in them every year with no chance of breaking down within the next seven centuries

“The majority of period products are in fact made from crude oil – plastic.”

At Grace & Green we have tried to address some of these challenges. We craft a collection of premium quality period products which have been intelligently engineered and developed for the discerning modern woman – a woman who cares about her health, the environment, social value and the importance of provenance and origin.

Started in January 2019, we are one of the UK’s first premium hygiene companies – something we are incredibly proud of. The launch essentially marked the end of three years of very intense behind-the-scenes work. During this time we worked with better raw materials, improved manufacturing processes, and an evolved style to provide women with a sustainable alternative to conventional period care that was effective and kind to the earth.

The result is a premium, sustainable collection made from 100% organic cotton which is biodegradable, super absorbent, breathable and soft as well as antibacterial. No chlorine or dioxin bleach is used in the manufacturing process, and products are individually wrapped in biodegradable sleeves before being packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes. We even use renewable energy in our production!

Grace & Green products are biodegradable and can even be composted

Instead of plastic, Grace & Green uses 100% organic cotton and biodegradable and compostable materials like bioplastics (made from plant starches) for the wrapping. Our products are just as effective as the conventional brands. Beyond creating this important alternative for women, we source all the materials ethically, in a way that meets the highest organic, environmental and biodegradable standards, and from partners that are environmentally conscious and share our mission to reduce and eliminate unnecessary waste.

Our product collection offers women an intimate product, which is non-toxic and naturally effective. Unlike other suppliers, Grace & Green’s holistic approach has created a scrupulous supply chain with a far lower impact on the environment.

“Our brand shows a concerted effort to do things differently, to act more consciously, whether it be through using recycled packaging or sustainable ingredients, or through our social impact work”, says Founder and CEO Fran Lucraft – whose previous career spanned almost a decade of working in the water and sanitation sanitation sector in developing countries.

“Ingredients, sourcing and manufacturing – amongst other integral components – are at the forefront of our production and products. It is not just the performance and quality that makes Grace & Green hygiene so special; it is the story behind the products and the social conscience which ensures that everything has been sourced and made fairly and responsibly.”

It was here, during her career working in the WASH sector, where Fran’s personal drive and desire to change the period product landscape came about, after witnessing first hand the catastrophic environmental impact these products have on our waterways around the globe. Grace & Green was born to champion an alternative and innovative production model – transparent and authentic – and to develop a range of products that are effective as other brands on the market but kinder to women’s bodies, as well as the planet.

“Having worked in the water & sanitation sector for over a decade – I have witnessed the problem first-hand, but also felt entirely powerless to do something. We hear a lot about the surge of single-use plastic – straws, plastic water bottles, coffee cups – the list goes on. But throw-away period products are adding to the plastic epidemic at an alarming rate – not just here in the UK, but around the world.”

As well as their contribution to plastic pollution, a year’s worth of a typical menstrual product impacts on climate too, with a carbon footprint of 5.3kg CO2 equivalent.

Truth be told, we’ve been conned into thinking the problem of plastic packaging can be solved through better individual action. We’re told that if we simply recycle we’re doing our part. We’re told that if we bring and use reusable bags to the supermarket, we’re saving the world. We think that if we drink from a reusable bottle, we’re making enough of a difference. The truth is that we cannot recycle our way out of this mess – we need collective change and onus needs to be placed in the hands of large corporations who are manufacturing these products, and the government, to put targets and measures in place and to robustly regulate the industry.

Choosing plastic-free reduces plastic production and waste.

“When you purchase plastic-free sanitary products, you affect the environment in two positive and impactful ways,” says Fran. “First, you are reducing the huge demand for plastic and reduce plastic production – which is critical because the very extraction, production and manufacturing of plastics releases toxic pollution into the environment. Second, you reduce the amount of plastic entering the waste stream once that product has been used — this never breaks down — in polluting the ocean, landfills, and threatening the wildlife around us. By producing products like Grace & Green you can rest assured that using a necessity item is safer, gentler, and more sustainable on both your health and the environment.”

“We will continue to strive to deliver exceptional products with minimal health and environmental damage as possible. Good design, quality and superior performance shouldn’t cost the earth. Not long ago, we existed in a world without throwaway plastic, and the hope is that we can rebuild a world where we can thrive that way again. We are, after all, the first generation that can make an informed choice about the direction our planet will take, and the sort of world our descendants will live in.”

Good design, quality and superior performance shouldn’t cost the earth.

You can explore Grace & Green’s sustainable period care range here.