McKenna Avery

mckenna averyMcKenna Avery graduated in 2020 with a degree in Sustainability and a minor in Political Science. During her time at SDSU, she worked for the Office of Sustainability, held executive positions in Green Love, and launched a company through ZIP Launchpad. McKenna is now working as a founder of a sustainable feminine hygiene company, Hempress Hygienics. Her passion and care for the environment and its people shine through in this spotlight!

How did you become interested in sustainability?

“Growing up, I was homeschooled and spent almost every day in my backyard. There were a lot of trees, orange groves, and really fun nature finds. By spending my childhood exploring nature, I cultivated a relationship and appreciation for the planet. Also, I lived next to a freeway and I got the typical asthma of someone who lives in bad air quality. One year, I lived in the worst air quality in California, so I felt the direct effects of pollution. Ever since, sustainability has completely resonated with me.”

You started an organic and hemp-based feminine hygiene company, Hempress Hygienics! What was your inspiration for this business?

“My two founders and I are all passionate about environmentalism and women empowerment. We saw the gap between traditional feminine hygiene products and reusables. While reusables are the most sustainable choice, 98% of women use disposable feminine hygiene products. If people are using single-use products, we might as well provide the most sustainable option until they get adjusted to reusables. While searching for how to make disposable products more sustainable, we discovered the benefits of hemp. Hemp is naturally antimicrobial and carbon neutral, even including processing, because it sequesters so much carbon. It doesn’t need any pesticides or herbicides and it saves water, land, time, and energy compared to cotton. Our hemp-based feminine hygiene products are the perfect replacement of what is on the market right now.”

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned through your work so far?

“I’ve learned the importance of collaboration. Since all three founders of Hempress Hygienics have never brought a product to market before, it’s essential that we work with people who have done it before and have knowledge in areas that we don’t. A huge part of being successful is creating a super strong team that utilizes everyone’s strengths, balances each other out, and shares the vision and passion for the company.”

What experiences or skills from SDSU have helped you in your sustainability journey and in your career?

“At SDSU, I was surrounded by so many people who care about sustainability and got exposed to sustainability’s many facets. Through working with the Office of Sustainability and Green Love on several different initiatives, I learned about everything that goes into making a change including the planning, relationships, and decisions. Being super involved helped me create a bank of knowledge that has been constantly useful in my sustainability journey and career.”

What advice do you have for students looking to make a positive impact on the planet and its people?

“Overall, I would say to be confident that you can make it happen! There are endless possibilities to make a positive impact. Many non-profits, organizations, and people have laid the foundation for incredible environmental and social solutions. Finding those organizations that you resonate with and bringing your energy to them can be an effective avenue to make a positive impact. That way, you are spending less time on the administrative part and more time on the action. Lastly, write down the reason why you started so that when it gets difficult, you remember your purpose. By keeping your vision in mind, you can enjoy the little victories and the hard labor.”