As a community of people living so close to nature in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), we have all seen some pretty clear signs of our impact on the environment. The fires California has suffered from over the last several years, and the increasing number of heat waves have brought that issue front and center and brings forth the question: What can we do?
While policy changes, renewable energy, and most importantly, corporations taking responsibility are vital, there are many small behavior changes that we can take on as individuals that can collectively have an enormous impact. Composting, avoiding plastic packaging, and bringing your own bags to the grocery store are small changes that relieve the burden on the landfill. Some waste that we have accepted as part of life just doesn’t have to be.
For nearly 50% of the population, literal tons of waste are tied to one of our most natural body functions. Our language continues to support shame and secrecy around it and our marketplace offers few alternatives to some very outdated solutions. These were the thoughts being mulled over by Karla Welch, when her gender non-binary child got their first period at a very young age. Pads and tampons are a lot to manage for an 11 year old and the language around periods has historically revolved around women, discretion, and hygiene. What has been missing is inclusivity, healthy, natural flow, and awareness about waste.
That’s when Karla decided to make a period product that would make this easier for her child and be accessible to everyone. She teamed up with her friend, Sasha Markova and together they have created an affordable, absorbent, waste-free product that is as inclusive as it is effective. Period Company’s line of underwear is made for comfort with the intention of changing the way we interact with our periods. Their bold website messaging is changing the way we talk about them, too; encouraging us to be connected to our flow and making it clear that their product isn’t sexualized or for women only, but for “people who period.”
Early on, Karla and Sasha found that other menstrual underwear wasn’t quite absorbent enough to be worn without back-up and was prohibitively expensive. They sought to keep accessibility at the forefront of their mission in order to allow people to give their product a try without a huge investment. Karla insists, “Give our underwear two periods and we’ll change the way you think about period-ing. You can just make choices as a business owner that benefit the consumer. We’re not going to make a huge mark-up on our underwear so we can truly have impact. One impact is people talking about their periods, but another is taking away the plastic that exists on the earth.”
Karla and Sasha take a sustainability mindset to all aspects of their business and use packaging that is made from cassava root and is fully biodegradable. The built-in padded part of the underwear is one super-absorbent layer of polyester surrounded by several layers of organic cotton. The amount of waste saved is easy to visualize. Considering people who period do so for about 60 days a year for roughly 40 years of their life, using approximately 3 pads or tampons a day— that’s in the ballpark of 7,200 pads or tampons that will outlive each user in our landfills. For far too long, our language around periods has pushed a narrative of discretion and embarrassment. Karla says, “as though leaks are the worst thing on earth— no they’re not! The worst thing on earth is a pad you used at 13 that’s going to be around after you die!”
Since the launch of the Period Company in the end of October 2020, they have found a surprising additional market for their product: incontinence. Because the underwear is so absorbent, it works for people postpartum, or in their later years as a comfortable, reliable, waste-free alternative to adult diapers. “It’s not just for people who period, it’s for all people.”
Karla believes that our reliance on products of convenience have disconnected us from our bodies and our planet. She says that, “Reconnecting to our flow reminds us that everything in nature flows, water flows, our bodies flow with blood… blood is the ocean of the body. When you can embrace that, rather than having dominance over everything, you will notice a change in yourself. Everything worth building starts with organizing community and we are a community around a meaningful idea. Behavior change is slow, but it is happening. We are changing the world.”
Does the underwear really work? I bought them for myself and my two daughters and we have been amazed. The underwear is comfortable and after years of using conventional options, we now have the utmost confidence in Period underwear. Learn more at period.co
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