Living in an era of climate emergency, we all want to do what we can to make a difference. However, as consumers it can be challenging to identify greenwashing (false implied claims about sustainability) or which choices are more truly green than others.
If it’s reusable, isn’t it already sustainable?
While consumers and cloth pad and period underwear brands make an assumed link between their products being reusable and therefore ‘sustainable’, we feel it’s important to quantify what this means.
How sustainable, for example, is a cheaply-made product that falls apart after a few washes? What about the impact of fabric choices? And exactly how much of a difference does the choice of reusables over disposables make?
In 2020 we undertook a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with GreenStory, a third-party verification agency who analyzed and quantified the environmental footprint of our cloth menstrual pads, cloth liners and period underwear. This testing process yielded detailed data about exactly how ‘green’ our products actually are as compared to traditional disposable pads and tampons.
What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
According to GreenStory, “A Life-cycle assessment is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life. While the methodology is focused on environmental impact assessments, a similar system can be used to look at social impact across a product or service’s life cycle.”
Aisle engaged Green Story to conduct the LCA and produced a comprehensive report complete with assumptions that considered all upstream processes of apparel manufacture, from raw material acquisition to fibre and fabric manufacture to customer usage and end-of-life.
All the relevant life-stages of Aisle pads and period underwear were compared to conventional disposable pads and tampons to estimate the net impact savings across three key metrics:
- CO2 Emissions avoided
- Energy saved
- Waste diverted
- CO2 emissions are reduced up to 95% for Aisle products compared to disposable menstrual products.
- Energy consumption is reduced up to 94% when using Aisle products versus disposable products.
- Up to 99% of waste is saved by using Aisle products rather than disposable products.
Above: Every Aisle cloth pad or period underwear includes environmental impact data from the LCA.
We took this data and added it to each of our product pages to allow our customers to see the implications of their choice. The data is also aggregated based on sales since the launch of the new periodaisle.com website in March 2020 to demonstrate the collective, real-time impact of all of our customers’ purchases.
Above: screenshot of real-time impact counter, March 15, 2022
Join usWe hope that this type of transparency will inspire not only our customers and help them to understand the true impact of their choice of Aisle products, but also our colleagues in the natural menstrual health field. As our CEO Suzanne was quoted in a May 2021 Vogue Business interview about Aisle’s LCA: “Leading by example is not cutting corners… it’s about being transparent about our business practices.” Together, we can make a difference if we’re willing to do the work.