What goes into your reusable pad or period undies? Our short answer is cotton and feminism. The long answer is much longer, and it's a journey we've been on since 1993.
So first, a quick history lesson on cotton. Cotton has been an important textile for millennia - literally. Fossilized cotton bolls have been found in India that date back to 5000 BCE. Cotton, as a major industrial product, has been at the nexus of some important political movements. It was the economic engine of slavery in the American south, kicked off the Industrial Revolution and existed as an important symbol of resistance to colonialism amongst the followers of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a fabric loaded with cultural and historical importance.
Cotton is great in so many ways...cotton also comes with some big problems.
Cotton is great in so many ways. As a natural fibre, it is not oil-based, like many synthetic fabrics, and will decompose over time after being discarded. It’s super-comfortable to wear, being breathable and cool, and can be combined with other fibres to create even more fabrics. We use cotton fleece in our classic pad designs because it becomes more absorbent the more it is washed - obviously great for a reusable menstrual product!
Cotton also comes with some big problems. Cotton production carries a huge cost, in environmental and social impact. Cultivating cotton is incredibly taxing on water supplies. takes 2,700 litres of water to produce a simple cotton t-shirt. Conventional cotton production also uses pesticides and fertilizers that encourage bumper crops but also damage ecosystems. The resulting fibres are often converted into textiles by workers who face exploitative and degrading conditions. (This is why we can't have nice things, folks.)
At Lunapads, as a B Corp, we’re committed to producing ethical and sustainable products. We’re also always learning, and doing our best to provide great performance at a fair price to our customers. So, we’re making some changes for the better.
Last year, we made the strategic decision to stop ordering non-organic cotton whenever possible. The cotton we use is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is an extremely rigorous standard. It prohibits the use of toxic dyes, bleaches and chemical processes and also requires certifications that prevent inhumane working conditions.
We’re committed to local and sustainable production as well - every Lunapad is made in East Vancouver by a team we’ve been working with for decades, and that is our long term plan. Our undies are also currently made in East Vancouver. That said - we’re part of the global supply chain, with materials coming in currently from Canada, the United States, South Korea and China. We’ve been developing relationships with our suppliers for years to transition to marine shipping; this has substantially reduced our carbon footprint. Our production is zero waste, and our packaging is both recycled and recyclable.
Right now, know that your Lunapads are locally made, contain organic fibres, are zero waste, low carbon and totally feminist.
Everything is not perfect. We’re using some ultra-absorbent polyester - which is of course a plastic. The only way to make our products reliably leakproof, even for the heaviest flows, we’ve included a polyurethane lining like those used in reusable diapers. Some of our more specialized fabrics still contain non-organic cotton fibres, and we haven’t been able to transition this fabric yet. (We’re working on it - but the struggle is so real.)
We’re always developing alternatives. We’re looking into sourcing recycled polyester, exploring other natural fibres, and keeping laser-focused on building sustainable solutions that work great and feel awesome. Right now, know that your Lunapads are locally made, contain organic fibres, are zero waste, low carbon and totally feminist. In short, a choice that is both planet and body positive.
Thanks for joining us on this journey.