The TRACE Mission: Beyond Natural Period Care
Hemp based, eco-friendly period products are just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look under the hood to see how TRACE is creating the future of period care.
Heal Self, Heal Kin, Heal Earth
At TRACE we know that it’s time to take eco-friendly period care to the next level. Sustainable menstrual products like organic tampons and menstrual cups are not going to cut it: We need to go beyond sustainable to actively heal our bodies and the earth if we want a better tomorrow. So yes, while we are making the world’s first hemp tampon and other hemp period care products, we go way beyond just the product. We heal through our systems, our supply chain, our relationships with kin and earth … through it all. We are working to be the best company we can be–true to ourselves, to you, and to the planet.
From a personal standpoint, we want to know what goes into our bodies; ESPECIALLY our vaginas. Did you know that most organic cotton tampons-even the very best organic cotton period care items- still have a cover made of synthetic plastic material? That means the part that touches your body is actually made of petroleum-derived plastic. Currently, materials that are mysterious at best and harmful hormone disruptors at worst (the jury’s still out on this … more research needs to be done) find their way into billions of people’s vaginas … Every. Single. Month. Ingredient non- disclosures, greenwashing, chemicals and plastic/petroleum derivatives (rayon, synthetic herbicides and pesticides, cotton finishing chemicals, etc), run rampant. And it’s only within the last 2-3 years that people started questioning it. We don’t even know the extent to which these materials coming in constant contact with the vaginal mucosa, one of the most sensitive and thinnest barriers in our bodies, affects our health. Research has just barely begun, and we don’t think we want to wait for the results to make a change … so here’s how we’re facing it head-on:
- Ingredient Innovation: The industry is long past due for the rayon tampon to say bye-bye. There is already a huge (and growing) market for cotton to replace synthetic fibers. But what about an even better alternative?
- HEMP! We see hemp as a beautiful solution to the current ingredient problems! Hemp fibers can be made as soft and absorbent as cotton, and have added benefits … we are even looking forward to a future where we can explore the many health facets this magical plant has to offer. But for now, we’ll just say, we ditched the plastic over-wrap and our tampons don’t shed inside the vagina because of the quality fibers we use. Boom.
- CLIMATE BENEFICIAL ™ cotton: We are working with a special group of people that range from other brands to universities to non-profits, to bring the first cotton grown with regenerative farming into tampons. We are helping farmers convert traditional cotton crops to regenerative ones, which means we get to ditch the harsh chemicals!
- Fibers made without harsh chemicals or pesticides: Our tampons are glyphosate, dioxin, bleach, fragrance, and GMO free. Who needs this stuff? We don’t care if our tampons are bleached to optic-white! We just want safe stuff in our vaginas! This is a no-brainer.
- Transparency and Education: Our founders are a female physician and a female nurse practitioner, as well as an expert in absorbent hygiene. Education lives in our cells. We take what we learned in healthcare and traditional manufacturing–what worked and what could have been better–and we transfer it to a clean period care line. Some ways we bring this learning to you: We have full ingredient disclosure right on the box with even more explanation online. That’s right-you get explanations of how our fibers are grown, treated, and made into tampons from healthcare professionals. Radical honesty and transparency are necessary for you to make a fully autonomous decision as a customer. We believe you can make the right choice for you. We provide the info-you decide what you think. Sometimes that’s choosing Trace hemp period care, sometimes it’s not. It’s not our job to pressure you. It IS our job to educate and empower you, the conscious consumer of today that cares about health. We are not your guru end-all answer-to-everything–we are just walking with you on your journey to find better, clean and natural period care. We reject greenwashing, marketing techniques that feed off of your emotional state, false claims, and hiding behind fancy/fabricated words. What you see is what you get. Period.
- Performance: We don’t sacrifice performance. Some eco-friendly tampon alternatives out there feel like they just don’t work as well. Uncomfortable tampons. Leaky strings. Bulky pads. Not for us. Your natural period care should hold up to your lifestyle and be completely comfortable. Our tampons are silky smooth, and easy to insert, so bye-bye sandpaper feel. The way we make our products will make it easy to ditch plastic, while keeping your body feeling good throughout the day.
We are all interconnected, and what affects one, affects all. Restoring right relationship includes the land and all living beings on it. In the current menstrual care manufacturing world (yes, even in organic period care), child and slave labor are pervasive. Even the cotton that is labeled “organic” has come under fire this year as the counterfeit organic cotton trade was highlighted in a riveting and horrifying NY Times expose. PS-It’s INCREDIBLY difficult to dig deep enough to find where/how these practices are used. We could go on and on about the atrocities in supply chains, fair wages, unsafe labor standards, monies not awarded to minority farmers … but honestly that could fill multiple posts alone. Suffice it to say, there are so many broken systems we can only begin to touch on the surface here.
- Traceability: We have spent the past 4 years building a fully traceable supply chain–farm to vagina. Traceability = accountability. You deserve this level of traceability to make an informed decision on what natural period product you want to buy. It’s easy to find hemp fibers and organic cotton fibers anywhere, but where did they come from? How were the workers treated? We go beyond the labels and certifications to tell you in-depth stories about our workers, farmers, ginners, growers … because you deserve to see for yourself, hear for yourself, and know for yourself who is making your products and exactly where they originated.
- Storytelling: It’s time to bring humanity back. We’re tired of other seemingly “sustainable” or “future oriented” brands claiming that they are better than the competition without anything to back up those claims. They say they are “regenerative” as a marketing slogan. They say they are “traceable” without proof. With us, you’ll find real pictures and videos, and real stories of our farmers, field workers, ginners, and more. You will be able to see the exact plot of land your tampon came from, scientific evidence that the land is healing, and stories from the people proud to work that land. You’ll know their “why” and what passion they bring to your eco-friendly product … a passion that is contagious as the energy behind what they put into their work is palpable in the final product. We can’t wait to share their stories.
- Uplifting minority and female growers and new cultivation: We don’t just exploit a story to sell a product; we put our values into practice. We support the under-represented to grow our hemp with BIPOC and female farmers. We have a special way our customers will be able to choose how they would like to give back by actively compensating those growers they feel a connection with. You can help us advocate for hemp growing in the US. You can help our farmers convert traditional crops to low-till, regenerative crops that heal the earth. You’ll hear how our supply chain workers are building their family legacies through the land, and how you can help.
- Collaboration: We work pre-competitively with other established brands as well as non-profits and universities to help farmers transition cotton grown traditionally to regenerative practices. This cuts down on input needs (water, fertilizer) while healing once-depleted soil. These partners all understand that we are not in competition–we are in community. We believe conscious capitalism is the new way forward, as outdated, patriarchal structures are showing us just how harmful they are to the earth and everyone on it. It takes a village, and we are eternally grateful for ours.
- Business Practices: We are pursuing B-corp status to make sure we are honoring those within and outside of our corporation. We are also a female-founded company, with ⅔ of our owners as women. We are passionate about doing business the right way.
We are all made of the same molecules mother earth is made of. Our carbon is woven together, with the trees of the forest and the birds of the sky. We cycle the same materials back and forth, through the ages. For all of life on earth, we have lived in harmony with this beautiful, balanced exchange—until the last few hundred years. And it shows. The earth, and all living things on it, are suffering. Period care products contribute to enormous amounts of environmental harm globally. Extractive materials and farming methods are depleting soil and natural resources, plastics are polluting landfills and oceans with no end in sight. Periods won’t stop, and people who menstruate need reliable, safe products to care for their bodies while they bleed. The menstrual renaissance is at hand and we are actively looking for new methods that align with our truest wishes.
So what are we to do? Do we all switch to menstrual cups and washable pads? What about the silicone used to make those cups? What about the added costs/burden of unending laundry added to kids’ soccer shorts and leotards? What time does the woman in 2022 have to add one more to-do on her never-ending list? Besides … switching to reusable alternatives may not harm the earth … but not harming is not the same as healing. We want true healing! Here’s how TRACE is finding a way:
- Reciprocity: We honor Ancient and indigenous wisdom and feel a return to these ways is the only way forward; this is creating WITH mother earth instead of taking from her—cycling with her. Taking only what we need, tending to earth as we tend to ourselves…We have learned so much and are so grateful for our indigenous elders and peers, and we strive to work with them to keep learning and honoring them.
- Regeneratively Grown– Beyond Organic: We help farmers change from traditional methods to regenerative methods for both cotton and hemp. The universities we partner with are measuring soil improvements over time such as increased soil organic matter (SOM) and soil organic carbon (SOC), that will help change the overall landscape of how fiber growers learn a new way forward.
- Aiding in restoring earth’s health: Our fibers actively sequester carbon, require less inputs, restore soil health, use less water, no pesticides, use animal grazing, and restore soil microbiome and biodiversity … and so much more! Regenerative farming is the next sustainable. And we are on the cutting edge of introducing cotton and hemp farmed in this way into consumer goods.
- Biodegradable- We are educating you on how and why to use tampons without applicators so that we don’t have to rely on plastics in any part of our tampon design. This makes them fully biodegradable. We are also actively seeking sustainable plastic alternatives such as hemp biopolymers to make a way for the future! We all deserve healthy choices.
Values in Action: We are Always Working to Do Better
While we have these practices in place, we recognize we have a long way to go. We aren’t perfect. But we are trying. We are grateful for our partners–for you– as you journey with us to create a more sustainable period care industry. Our greatest hope is a future where other period companies take head and see what can be done when you dream of a better tomorrow and then take action. The future of the natural period care industry is now, and we can’t wait to see how it grows.