Building Aisle has literally been a labour of love: our calling. Yes, we make and sell products, create jobs and so on, however impact has always been our primary objective. Our values are our priorities.
In the intervening decades since our founding in 1993, our niche passion has flourished into a full-blown industry, with product innovations and new leaders emerging on an almost-daily basis. Reusable period care now falls under the broader category of ‘FemTech’, a sector that is now attracting considerable interest from mainstream investors.
Growth at what cost?
The growth of the reusable menstrual care industry is seeing a classic business trend common in the apparel industry: new entrants making low-quality goods, looking to jump on the bandwagon of a hot product category to attract customers and cash in.
On the face of it, lower-cost products seem like a good thing, but we need to ask what the true impact of this is: who actually loses in this situation? Customers, who despite the illusory ‘win’ of cheaper products, risk ending up with lower quality goods that don’t meet their needs or offer long-term value. Factory workers, who essentially subsidize cheap goods with their poorly-paid labour and potentially poor working conditions. Plus, of course the environment - what’s the point of virgin synthetic period underwear that falls apart after a handful of washes?
Why transparency in your period products matters to Aisle
Aisle is a proud to be a B Corp. B Corps are a global group of for-profit companies dedicated to using business as a force for social good. To become certified as a B Corp, all of our social and environmental outputs and policies are rigorously evaluated, quantified and ranked. You can think of it as a proven ‘greenwashing-free’ indicator. Certified in 2012, Aisle was the first menstrual care company to become a B Corp and is the top-ranked B Corp in the period care category.
In 2020, wanting to obtain even more specific data about our products’ impact from a climate change perspective, we undertook a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) with GreenStory, a third-party verification agency who analyzed and quantified the environmental footprint of our cloth pads, liners and period underwear and compared them to disposables. This testing process made us the first period care company to conduct such a LCA and yielded detailed findings about just how ‘green’ our products actually are.
Further to this, Aisle has been a certified Climate Smart business since 2009, a program that comprehensively measures our business operations’ climate ‘footprint’, so we’re not just looking at the impact of our products: we measure the climate impact of our commute, travel, and waste and look for ways to reduce our emissions.
Product excellence: Aisle uses fabrics that are STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified. This is a certification of adherence to an independent industry standard of testing limits for a variety of potentially harmful chemicals; this includes the testable PFAS chemical group, and applies to every part of the garment. We have always been one of the most trusted brands when it comes to compliance with PFAS safety standards for period underwear.
Tips for choosing quality reusable menstrual products:
- Regulatory compliance is expensive but it ensures that the brand is subject to and following health and safety standards to protect you, the consumer! Check that the brand has received acceptance from federal government bodies like the US FDA, Health Canada or ISO (International Standards Organization). For example, ISO 13485 is an internationally recognised standard for the design, manufacture and distribution of medical devices.
- Is the company a certified Living Wage employer? Aisle is the first Canadian menstrual care company to become Living Wage for Families certified.
- B Corp certification. Companies that are B Corps have undertaken rigorous measurements of their social and environmental impacts. B Corps walk the talk when it comes to sustainability.
- How transparent are the company’s manufacturing relationships? Who owns the company and do they employ fair labour practices? Look closer and find out where and how they are made and from what materials.
- Performance and durability. Has the product been independently tested for performance and absorbency? Is the construction reliable and durable? What do customer reviews say about the product’s performance and durability?
- Sustainable fabric certifications. These can include GRS (Global Recycled Standard), Bluesign and OEKO-TEX, a highly regarded textile testing certification. Organic fabrics should be certified; two common ones are GOTS and OCS.
- PFAS testing. Period underwear and cloth pads should be tested for the presence of a group of chemicals called PFAS. Research the company’s website for copies of their lab results. If you cannot find this information and are concerned, buy only from companies with independent test results from third parties about the presence of PFAS.
Our leadership and transparency are based on the hope that we both educate customers to care about their purchasing impact, and inspire other businesses to do the same. The natural menstrual care industry has the opportunity to be a model example of positive impact at a global scale.
Aisle’s definition of sustainability goes far beyond simply making world-class reusable products in terms of comfort and performance - we also consider labour practices, the quality and impact of materials used, and social equity in design and marketing. Thank you for being our partners in voting with your dollars for a better world.