Helping reduce waste and drive change

Photo credit: Martin Dee

Posted 2020-01-24
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UBC Sauder BCom alumna Suzanne Siemens co-founded Lunapads to reduce waste and combat climate change. Her reusable menstrual products company helps divert over 20 million pads and tampons from landfills. Every year.

  • 20 billion pads and tampons are thrown out every year, according to estimates.
  • UBC Sauder alumna Suzanne Siemens co-founded Lunapads to reduce that waste.
  • Her reusable menstrual products company helps divert over 20 million pads and tampons from landfills. Every year.
  • Beyond her product lines, Siemens is challenging social norms within her hiring practices and marketing.

 

Combating Period Waste

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The waste generated by disposable menstrual products is staggering; some 20 billion pads and tampons are thrown out every year. But it doesn’t have to be that way: One UBC Sauder alumna is making a significant dent in the problem. 

Suzanne Siemens co-founded Lunapads, a reusable menstrual products company that is inspiring social and environmental change. 

“As a business, we’re striving to reduce waste, combat climate change, and change people’s attitudes about a taboo subject like menstruation,” Siemens says.

By all accounts, it’s working. Since its founding in 1993, Lunapads has helped divert an estimated 150 million pads and tampons from landfills. 

For the last four years in a row, the company has been recognized in the top 10% of B Corporations, which are defined as businesses that use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities and the environment.
 

Growing with purpose

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Lunapads reusable menstrual products
Photo credit: Kornelia Kulbacki

 

A recent cultural shift toward sustainable menstrual products has Lunapads focused on growth, an opportunity that Siemens is committed to pursuing with the company’s longstanding values at the forefront.

“I’m excited about reducing our environmental footprint as we scale,” Siemens says. 

She and her partners are taking an innovative approach to their operations in order to do so.

“Business is a powerful thing,” she says. “I lead an unconventional business so I look for alternative tools and alternative thinking because that can expand the possibilities of what we can do.”

 

A foundation built on the UBC Sauder BCom

Siemens is a graduate of the UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce program, which she credits with giving her the business acumen needed to thrive as a pioneer. 

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Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens, co-founders of Lunapads.
Photo credit:  Martin Dee

“UBC Sauder gave me an essential business foundation,” Siemens says. “It allows you to think creatively; work with others who are not like you; and recognize there’s no one way to do business.”

These days Siemens is frequently invited back to UBC Sauder to share her experience and expertise with students, which allows her to reflect back on her own time in the BCom program.

“It was a crucial period of learning and exploring in both an academic and a practical way,” she says. “Your exposure to diverse courses and diverse people is incomparable to any other education I could think of.”

 

Driving change at Lunapads and beyond

Because Siemens leads a consumer-facing brand, she’s able to use product marketing to drive change as well; she takes a thoughtful approach to the hiring of everyone from models to digital marketing agencies.

“Supporting and showcasing diverse folks is a great way to expand society’s definition of inclusion and social equity,” she says. 

"If you want to practice authentic diversity, you need to have diverse voices at the table; it also makes your marketing more creative and effective, because you're serving audiences that are often ignored. Plus, our millennials are allergic to inauthentic marketing."

“For example, we launched a product designed with transmasculine folks in mind, we hired trans and nonbinary creatives to showcase their talents, as well as the product.”
 

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Siemens is challenging social norms within her hiring practices and marketing
Photo credit: Kornelia Kulbacki

Across environmental and social spheres, the impact of Siemens’s work at Lunapads is revolutionizing and transforming menstrual health.
 

Suzanne speaks at Pecha Kucha-style event presented by the UBC Sauder School of Business and the Peter A. Allard School of Law: