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Meet Thinx: The Brand Advocating for Gender Equality

Jan. 17, 2020It was tempting to begin this article with a statistic: The number of disposable pads and sanitary products a person with a period uses over their lifetime. Then broken down into pounds of trash that equals out to, further broken down into pounds used—and disposed—of per year. The impact on the planet. The chemicals used to produce those products. You know what I’m getting at.

But as I typed the sentences I realized something: If I were to begin this article with statistics, numbers and environmental impact information, I would be perpetuating a feeling most women and girls are well-acquainted with: Shame. Beginning at an early age, we’re made to feel bad about the natural processes of our bodies, that our periods are something to hide or are unsanitary. We’re presented ads for tampons and pads with “clean” blue liquid, smiling women (again, set against a blue backdrop—what gives?), and slogans decreeing a “happy period” (ok sure).

While the tide seems to be turning in the direction of actually talking openly about and acknowledging that periods exist, society has a-ways to go when it comes to providing access to safe, environmentally-friendly period products. As young girls, we’re presented with two options: pads or tampons. Take your pick. Until recently, tampons and pads have been the gold standard when it comes to period care (despite that fact that the period cup has existed since the ‘30s), and very little progress has been made in making these products any better for the user and any less environmentally impactful for the planet.

Until recently. While use of menstrual cups has increased over recent years, there’s another, fairly new option available that could provide a healthier alternative for people and planet: Thinx. Made for people with periods, Thinx offers a range of products, the most famous of which is their menstrual underwear that can be worn alone or as backup to a tampon or cup. Thinx also creates Speax, for bladder leaks, and BTWN, for tweens and teens.

If the gears are turning and you’re thinking, wait… period UNDERWEAR? Yes, you’re correct, and that’s what I thought too before I tried them out about a year ago. Tired of having to purchase products every month and looking for ways I could reduce the amount of garbage I was producing, I decided to give Thinx a go after hearing so much about them.

Now, one year later, not only do I almost exclusively use Thinx during my period, but I’ve joined the company as a Thinx Leader to help share period education. But before we dive into the how and why behind the company, let’s look into the how and why one might want to work to reduce their menstrual footprint. 

Okay, now it’s statistic time!

It’s estimated that a person with a period will use approximately 11,000-16,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime. And that’s not including other period accessories, such as panty liners, heating pads, pain relievers, and more. This not only results in a large amount of garbage (obviously none of these products can be recycled), but the costs add up as well, resulting in what’s commonly known as the “Pink Tax”. Basically the pink tax is what it costs to be a female-identifying consumer. Women not only pay more for products (products marketed to women and girls cost approximately 7% more than products marketed towards men and boys), but there’s the added cost of products women need, like pads and tampons.

Women spend hundreds of extra dollars per year for period products, many of which are made with harsh chemicals, like chlorine and bleach, and come with additional plastic parts, like applicators, that wash up on beaches and end up in landfills. When you consider how little progress has been made with period products over the years and how much of it ends up as garbage, it’s easy to see why many people have sought out alternatives to conventional sanitary products in recent years. And I count myself among them. A big reason I chose to give Thinx a try was that I was sick of giving my money to a large company every month who’s most recent innovation was a thinner pad that still came wrapped in plastic. The same pad I’d been buying since I got my period for the first time back in the ‘90s. 

What makes Thinx unique?

Let’s start with the products themselves. Thinx underwear is made to be worn alone or as backup to a tampon or cup, meaning that, yes, you bleed right into them. The company makes a wide range of styles, from high-waisted to sport, in cotton and spandex blends that have built-in absorbing panels that are moisture-wicking, odor-controlling, leak-resistant, and super-absorbant. When you’re ready to wash them, you simply rinse, cold-wash on laundry day, and hang them to dry (I put mine in a laundry bag to further protect them). For those curious about how Thinx might work for them, my best piece of advice is to do what I did and order a couple of pairs and try them for yourself, ideally on a day when you can be cozy at home so you can see how they work with your flow. With the right strategy, Thinx could completely replace conventional sanitary products, or at least eliminate most of them. 

But that’s not the only reason to give Thinx a try. While you and I are lucky to have options and access when it comes to period products, there’s a huge percentage of people who don’t have the privilege.

It’s estimated that 1 in 5 students struggle to afford menstruation products—and many don’t have access to them at all.

In fact, 85% of young people have either missed class or know someone who has missed class because of their period. These stats shocked me. No one should miss out on an education simply because of a process their body does naturally—and the costs associated with it. It’s a matter that goes beyond the Pink Tax—and it’s easy to imagine that if this were something considered a “man’s issue” it would have been solved already.

Here’s where Thinx comes in: Through their Give Rise! Program, Thinx works for better access for puberty education while amplifying grassroots activism and donated undies and time to those in need. They also work with programs like Safe Horizon, Alliance of Border Collaboratives, Girls INC. and other programs to expand access to basic hygiene products and community-based services, like reproductive healthcare and mentoring. It’s not just about expanding access, it’s about expanding education too.

Did you know only 13 out of 50 states require the sexual education curriculum taught in schools to be medically accurate? Let that one sink in for a second: medically accurate. And only 8 states require that curriculum to be unbiased against race, sex or ethnicity. Through the Every Body Program, Thinx provides an inclusive, medically accurate, curriculum for puberty education to empower young people with the correct, scientifically grounded information about their bodies.

Personally, Thinx has changed the game for me. While they take some getting used to, I love knowing that with each use I’m not only cutting down on the amount of waste headed for landfills, but voting with my dollar as well, choosing to support a company that’s working to actually change the conversation around periods and menstruation instead of settling for the status quo. 


Have you tried Thinx? Have a question about them? Connect with us on social by tagging @Avocadomattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine

Julie O'Boyle

By Julie O'Boyle

 —  Julie O'Boyle is a freelance writer and content strategist with a background in fashion and DIY and a devotion to the outdoors and functional nutrition. Currently residing in the woods of Maine, when she's not writing you can find her at the beach or on a mountain, or otherwise getting her hands dirty.

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