Things to THINX About
Five good reasons to try the revolutionary panty.
By Tessa Trudeau
THINX underwear have been life-changing for the women who wear them—and for females the world over. Founded in 2014, the New York-based company makes reusable, period-proof panties that can replace or be worn as added security with traditional feminine hygiene products. It also advocates programs and projects that benefit women's health, employment and opportunities around the globe.
Company CEO Maria Molland was introduced to THINX by a friend and was instantly hooked. Molland had worked in tech for over 20 years—her resumé includes a Harvard MBA and positions at eBay and Yahoo. But after encountering fertility issues while trying to get pregnant, her career objectives shifted. "I wanted to use my business brain to be part of a company that was making a big difference in terms of women's health," she says. "The brand itself is all about breaking taboos around totally normal subjects that women shouldn't be embarrassed about, and I thought that was a really interesting mission and value that I wanted to live. That actually put THINX at the top of the list in terms of companies that I wanted to work with post-baby."
We talk to Molland about five ways THINX is changing things for women and girls everywhere.
1. They're a more sustainable option.
"It can take up to 500 years to actually decompose a plastic tampon applicator," says Molland. "Traditional disposables create a lot of waste in terms of plastic in landfills—around four percent is made up of tampons and pads." It's no secret that plastic is bad for the environment, but until THINX there weren't many alternatives to single-use feminine necessities.
"For most people, THINX can be a complete replacement to pads and tampons," Molland says, so the washable panties cut out a significant amount of waste as is. But the brand isn't just stopping at underwear. "We are actually launching a reusable tampon applicator," Molland reveals. Not every woman can make the full switch to THINX, so this new innovation will provide a more sustainable option for existing alternatives.
2. They provide essential health education.
Reproductive health is a tricky topic, so it goes without saying that many youngsters are misinformed about menstruation. Through a program called THINX EveryBody, the company brings health education to low-income communities. "We work with schools and afterschool programs to provide adolescents with core knowledge that's really focused on reproductive health as well as human rights," explains Molland. "Last year, we served 100 students in the Tri-State area of New York, and this year we plan to grow it across the U.S. with closer to 1,000 students." Trained facilitators present activity-based topics to 10- to 13-year-old students of both genders, equipping them with accurate and informed knowledge about self-care and wellness in areas where these essential courses have been cut.
3. They're championing equality.
THINX also takes part in advocacy around what Molland calls “menstrual equity." This refers to the pay gap between men and women, which can be compounded by costly necessities which women must purchase, such as hygiene products. "The reality is that tampons and pads can be expensive," says Molland. "Women shouldn't have to be spending that amount of money on something that is natural and something that we're born into. It should be kind of the same capacity as toilet paper and be found for free in schools, prisons and homeless shelters. So we've been working on a grassroots campaign with [the non-profit] Period.org. We're engaging school boards, city councils, student governments and young activists to ensure that disposable feminine hygiene products can be offered for free in schools."
4. They give back.
Seeing that period products are inaccessible to many women on restricted incomes (including young girls), the brand also donates feminine hygiene items to those who can't afford them. "'Period poverty' is a term used to reflect the fact that a lot of people simply can't afford period products," Molland explains, which she says cost the average person around $300 per year. Even more startling, every year 100 million girls miss school because they can't afford these products. Through its donation program, THINX provides funds "to organizations that support marginalized communities of women and girls, so it could be homeless people, it could be refugees," says Molland. "And then we also really support mission-oriented non-profits such as Girls, Inc."
5. They support ethical manufacturing.
The work that THINX is doing goes well beyond just the women who use their products—their mission includes the women who make them. "We manufacture in Sri Lanka through a company called MAS," Molland says, which is one of the largest global suppliers of lingerie. "They have a lot of women in managerial positions, but typically when you go to manufacturers around the world, all the men run things and then the women are working in the factories. Here it's a very different experience where a lot of women are in management and making key decisions as well."
In order to ensure a positive and safe environment for their female workers, MAS launched a program in 2003 called Women Go Beyond. The initiative aims to empower their employees and ensure a healthy work-life balance by providing things like supplemental education and skill development, leadership opportunities, financial information and even fitness sessions and free or subsidized meals. "You don't find that at a lot of other companies," says Molland, "and it's something that maps to our cultural values."