Announced today (Thursday 21st April), we are very proud to announce that WUKA has been honoured with a Queen's Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. WUKA is one of 226 organisations nationally to be recognised for The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, and has won for its excellence in sustainable development.
Winning this award has given us the chance to look over our sustainable wins so far, and to celebrate with tea and scones – a must for such an occasion!
‘Our brand was built with sustainability as a core foundation for our existence, so we are super happy to see it's been recognised. We created WUKA to break taboos around periods while accelerating and innovating in sustainability. I'm so glad to be pioneering in the right direction, and we encourage all brands to do so. We have only one planet.’
- Ruby Raut, CEO and co-founder of WUKA
What are The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise?
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious awards for UK businesses. Now in its 56th year, it is a globally recognised royal seal of approval for UK companies.
The Award recognises outstanding achievements across four categories: Innovation, Sustainable Development, International Trade and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). WUKA falls under the Sustainable Development category, demonstrating sustainable products for more than two years and benefits of our actions.
WUKA stands for sustainability
WUKA has grown from offering a single period pants product to developing product ranges aimed at appealing to all tweens, teens, women and people who bleed, including activewear and swimwear. Every aspect of our business is considered from a sustainability perspective.
As our baseline, we’re carbon neutral. We use the highest quality materials in our underwear, including GOTS organic cotton, TENCEL™ Modal (extracted from naturally grown beech wood) and ECONYL® regenerated nylon (made from plastic waste from our oceans).
The Sustainable Development Goals are WUKA's blueprint
💯 SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
In a 2017 Facebook survey of 430 women, WUKA found that:
🧑🏫 SDG 4: Quality Education
Education about periods and our environment is essential to create the change we wish to see in the world, which is why Ruby Raut, CEO and co-founder of WUKA, often visits schools to deliver educational talks about periods and sustainable period products. She also aims to inspire careers in FemTech from her own entrepreneurial experience of creating a business.
On top of this, WUKA regularly donate to schools and school nurses to deliver up-to-date information about periods and their social and environmental impact. Specifically, we donate to City To Sea’s Rethink Periods Project, a teacher training programme for Key Stage 2 and 3 PSHE teachers, providing materials for lessons in the UK. We also work with the government and local councils (including most recently Caerphilly County Borough Council in Wales) providing period pants for their period dignity campaigns to help alleviate period poverty in a sustainable and accessible way.
🙋♀️ SDG 5: Gender Equality
At WUKA HQ, we have a staff of 9 women and 2 men with more women occupying positions of leadership than men. We want WUKA to provide a strong role model to young girls that women can be entrepreneurs and innovators – a common theme across our branding.
What's more, we use diverse and inclusive images of real women and people who bleed to reflect our vibrant WUKA community, including ethnicities, non-disabled and disabled people and body sizes. And, as a rule, we never retouch any of the bodies in the photographs we use.
💧 SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Did you know that WUKA's period-proof underwear can be used for up to 2 years? Based on a person using 11,000 menstrual products in 38 years of menstruating life (i.e. 24 products per month or 576 products in two years), we conservatively estimate that every pair of WUKA purchased prevents 200 disposables going into landfills and being flushed into the ocean.
Therefore, with WUKA customers, we’ve prevented more than 100 million disposables from being thrown and flushed since 2018. Visualise it – that’s a line of disposable pads that would wrap around the world more than 10 times!
📈 SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
WUKA prides itself on many sustainable firsts. We brought the UK’s first reusable and leak-proof period pants to market, designed to completely replace disposable pads, tampons and pantyliners. WUKA were the first period pants in a UK supermarket and are now available in 16 countries through our network of small zero waste and eco stores. See if you can spot the other firsts in this blog post!
As well as employing staff at WUKA HQ and operating our own full-time warehouse, we employ women in Nepal who hand-make our wash bag accessories, helping to protect the native tradition of looming ‘Dhaka’ fabrics by hand and introducing them as a premium product to the western market.
✊ SDG 10: Reduced Inequality
WUKA uses its marketing budget and influence to champion those who are marginalised, to overcome biases and fight for positive change. Our #inmyWUKA campaign brought together many different races and abilities in a national movement to show that being different is to be celebrated.
From International Women's Day 2022, WUKA is proud to be the official sponsor of Wales Women, the Welsh National Rugby Team. WUKA will provide the Wales Women senior squad with a range of sustainable period underwear, and provide support to the rest of the female player pathway along with community teams through exclusive discounts. This makes WUKA the first period pants brand to sponsor a national sports team.
♻️ SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
As well as being reusable, we were the first period pants brand to use biodegradable TENCEL™ in our products. The WUKA Everyday™ collection is made of TENCEL™, a form of rayon that consists of cellulose fibre made from wood pulp or cotton linter. As well as being buttery soft on your skin, the fibres are compostable too (minus the waistband, which is still recyclable)!
Always looking for carbon neutral wins, we are the first brand to launch period pants made from fast fashion excess fabrics diverted from landfill in November 2021 as the super-comfy WUKA Re-Purpose™ collection. Saving fabric never looked so good.
🌍 SDG 13: Climate Action
WUKA is the first Carbon Neutral+ period pants brand. Every WUKA product has a carbon footprint five times less than the disposable pads and tampons it replaces. If every woman of menstruating age in the UK were to switch to WUKA for one year, collectively they would save 110,000 tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e). That’s the equivalent of powering 13,167 homes for a year or 274,792,563 miles driven!
By using sustainable materials, WUKA keeps its carbon footprint naturally small and, any carbon we can't yet displace, we offset. All WUKA undies are certified Carbon Neutral+ through supporting Verified Carbon Standard projects including tree planting, reducing deforestation, biosupply wastewater treatment and biogas utilisation.
🐠 SDG 14: Life Below Water
Plastic Ocean UK reports that in the UK approximately 4.6 million single-use plastic period products are flushed down the loo every day. City to Sea estimates that this breaks down to about 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 pantyliners.
WUKA Period Pants means no more flushing, which means protecting marine life. The recycled nylon we use to make the WUKA Perform™ collection, including our Period Leggings and Swim Briefs, is made from fishing nets and plastic bottles. Moreover, through our previous partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, our products actively protected our oceans.
🚜 SDG 15: Life on Land
Disposable period products contribute to 200,000 tonnes of waste in UK landfills every single year, taking about 500 years for the plastic used in them to decompose.
WUKA Period Pants mean no more landfill, which means protecting life on land. Our reusable period-proof underwear do not contain plastic and are made from sustainable or, at the very least, recyclable materials, dramatically reducing the amount of waste.
☮️ SDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
We stand for the fair treatment of people in our society and, for WUKA, that means educating and empowering women and people who bleed about their bodies and, in particular, about menstruation. It also means tackling social injustice wherever we find it.
In January 2021, the UK Government removed VAT on menstrual products but failed to include period pants. This means that period pants continue to be taxed at 20%. This tax is making an environmentally and financially alternative to disposable period products more expensive. So, WUKA continues to call on the government to axe this Period Pants Tax.
🧜♀️ SDG 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goal
We operate on a triple bottom line: Planet, People, Profit. We only run ‘Promotions with Purpose’ which means we do not have a ‘sale’ to sell products alone. Instead, we have promotions that elevate our partners’ missions, partners which include:
For example, we donated 1% of total sales of the WUKA Perform™ collection, which are made of recycled fishing nets, to our partner Surfers Against Sewage to help their mission. Our newest charity partner is Mermaids, a leading trans youth charity in the UK. To champion their cause, £1 from every WUKA Ultimate™ Boxer Shorts purchased will go to Mermaids.
WUKA is a sustainable period wear brand of many firsts and, like Ruby said, is glad to be pioneering in the right direction as the:
👑 The first period pants in a UK supermarket
👑 The first period pants brand in the UK to issue a carbon footprint report on menstrual products
👑 The first brand to launch period pants made from fast fashion excess fabrics
👑 The first period pant brand to sponsor a national sports team
👑 The first Carbon Neutral+ period pants brand