Fran Lucraft is Founder and CEO of Grace & Green, an ethical and sustainable period care company based in Bristol. Fran’s background is environmental management and sustainability in the WASH sector, so the company was born out of a premise to produce an entirely transparent and ethical supply chain. Here she talks about the role of hygiene products in our current environmental crisis.
There are many issues that surround menstrual health - around the world, thousands of women and girls live without access to the safe sanitary products they need, putting their health and safety at risk, and forcing millions of girls to stay home from school.
Due to C-19, this problem is now much closer to home than people may realise - with many families in the UK experiencing economic hardship, period poverty now affects more people in the UK than ever before.
It has been reported that 10% of girls in England don’t have the financial resources to buy period products (WEN). Many have admitted missing school to avoid the shame and stigma around periods, resulting in a loss of education. There has been some progress made this year with the distribution of free period products throughout schools and the planned abolition of period tax by January 2021. This does not however address the taboo and stigma. Some cultures still perceive periods as ‘impure’ meaning women are forced to isolate during their period. Without an open conversation about periods and sanitation, women are often forced to use unsanitary and unsafe alternatives. We know more needs to be done and so work with charities like the unmentionables, donating products to those who simply don't have access.
My background being in water and sanitation, I saw firsthand the effects of unsustainable period products. The shocking reality is that conventional period products (and how they are disposed of) are damaging our planet now and in the future. Whilst water bottles take 58 years to decompose, conventional sanitary pads take 500 to 800 years. When you take into consideration that the average woman uses 11,000 disposable menstrual products during their reproductive lifetime the implications to the environment are vast. A conventional sanitary pad may well contain a higher percentage of plastic than cotton, with some estimates of upwards of 90% plastic.
When you purchase sustainable sanitary products, you affect the environment in two positive and impactful ways. First, you are reducing the huge demand for plastic, therefore, reducing plastic production – which is critical because the extraction, production and manufacturing of plastics release 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.
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, of social value and the importance of provenance and origin.
Started in January 2019, we are one of the United Kingdom’s first premium hygiene companies, which is 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 menstrual products 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!
Most recently we have launched our menstrual cup range and delighted to be collaborating with Zero-Living who are kindly donating 100% profits the Women's Environmental Network.
The Grace & Green period cup has been designed as a truly sustainable alternative to conventional products. Made from 100% medical grade silicone, the cup can be worn comfortably for up to 10 hours protection. In line with our ethos of style and sustainability going hand in hand, we have designed a sleek, silky coating with an innovative node for easy removal. The cup comes in two variations, cup A for new cup users and cup B for experienced cup users and those that have given birth. You can choose between a delicate rosewater colourway or translucent. The launch of our reusable range has been a year in the making and so we are very excited to bring it to you all.
The product collection offers women an intimate product, which is non-toxic and naturally effective. Unlike other suppliers, Grace & Green holistic approach has created a supply chain that has been scrupulously created to have the lowest 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 Frances 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.”