We are delighted to interview Susie Hewson, Founder and CEO of Natracare, a pioneering company that has revolutionised period products. Susie tells us the compelling story behind Natracare and shares the passion she brings to her work.
Can you tell us a bit about Natracare and the products you offer?
Natracare is a pioneering and campaigning brand determined to highlight and address ecologically damaging ingredients. We campaign for better choices for people and the planet and produce chlorine free, plastic free, and compostable period products, incontinence pads, parent and baby products, and wipes – including Water UK certified Fine to Flush moist tissues.
When did you start Natracare and what was the catalyst for doing so?
In the 1980s I learnt about the damaging impact of plastics and the dangers of dioxin pollution. I was appalled to find my period products contained these ingredients, without a clear ingredients list, and no natural disposable option existed. Even more so when I became a mum of two and found the same for maternity and baby products. My response was to research the problems and develop an alternative that actually respected our bodies and our planet. Natracare was launched in 1989 with the world’s first organic 100% cotton tampons which became the first certified organic cotton tampons by 1996.
What should consumers know about period products and how is the Natracare range different?
That it’s their right to know what’s in products they’re using. There’s no legal requirement for period product brands to fully list ingredients, therefore users can be left in the dark about the types of plastics, super absorbents, potential chemical fragrances, and other ingredients they might wish to avoid.
Transparency and honesty see us consistently at the top of the leader board as an ethical brand, listing all product and packaging ingredients on our packs as well as our website. Everybody has a right to know exactly what they’re buying and using, so that they can make an informed decision for themselves.
Like Greenscents, Natracare is certified organic. Why do you believe this is particularly important for period products?
Cotton is the world’s most heavily sprayed crop, so choosing certified 100% organic cotton can reduce exposure to hazardous pesticides and herbicides as well as helping to minimise such chemicals in rivers and soil. The Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS) inspects and monitors from field through processing to finished product that also considers fair working practices and conditions for all workers.
These are the best reasons for us to choose organic cotton as well as the wonderful quality and softness.
You are totally committed to the circular economy. Can you tell us how you apply this principle in your business?
Pursuing EN13432 means we can provide a disposable menstrual product that can be composted and produce components that are a part of a circular economy. Most of the manufacturing processes for Natracare rely solely on green energy. Our warehousing and offices included. Natracare packaging is either compostable or recyclable.
You have always professed to be a campaigning brand – can you tell us about some of the campaigns you have instigated and about 1% for the Planet?
In our early days the campaigning was to expose and inform, in the absence of the internet until 1996, purely through organised women’s groups and investigative media like the Village Voice. Our campaigns continue to fight for Plastic Free Periods and our most recent campaign, #RenameDontShame, sets out to encourage supermarkets, both off and online, to move away from wording like “feminine hygiene” to signpost period products. This is because women and girls aren’t the only people who have periods – trans men, non-binary people, and intersex people do too. Also, periods aren’t unhygienic. The current wording perpetuates shame, stigma, and gender dysphoria.
We’re also proud to be members of 1% for the Planet, which means that we donate 1% of our annual turnover to environmental organisations across the globe. Some of the organisations we support include Plastic Oceans, Avon Needs Trees, and Women Engaging for a Common Future. You can learn more about our giving back here.
Do you think it’s important that people choose organic laundry and cleaning products?
Choosing certified 100% organic is important, and especially for cleaning and laundry products that you come into contact with so frequently. But what’s more important is that organic products are made to be widely accessible and that consumers are able to see and understand what’s in the products they choose and their environmental impacts.