About 335 million women in India use sanitary napkins which make 12% of the menstruating population. About 108K tonnes of sanitary waste is accumulated in India annually and it takes about 500-800 years to biodegrade each sanitary napkin. Moreover, about 300 women in India do not have access to a sanitary napkin, they rely on rags, husk sand, ashes,dry leaves which are highly dangerous. Following are some issues related to sanitary napkins which led to the emergence of eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
- sanitary napkins are made of plastic, polymer gels, chemicals, chlorine bleach and non-organic cotton
- skin is our largest organ, moreover, the vaginal skin is very permeable and when the chemicals come in contact with the skin it can lead to diseases like cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory, infections etc
Following are few social enterprises from across the globe which have developed affordable, accessible,healthy and eco-friendly alternatives.
- Product: Saathi Pads are manufactured with a ultra-soft absorbent which is extracted from banana fibres. This innovation eliminates the usage of chlorine-bleached wood pulp which is the cause of irritation and infection.
- Impact on Environment: Saathi pads are 100% biodegradable. One Saathi pad gets degraded within 6 months. Presently, 90% is compostable but they are striving to compost the left 10% too. Moreover, tests are going on to use these in compost and biogas.
- Amazing Factor: Saathi pads will be available to the whole of India in 2017. They not only help banana cultivators to earn a good livelihood but also help the local women who work in the production plant.
- Product: Eco Femme has brought revolution in the cloth pad. They manufacture washable cotton pads which can be used again. Moreover, it contains Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) which prevents leakage. PUL can last approximately 75 washes. PUL is a plastic layer which is not in direct contact with the body as the leakproof side faces downwards. All it takes to wash the pad is to soak it in water for 30 seconds and dry it in direct sunlight. Sun emits UV rays which act as disinfectant.
- Impact on Environment: Since, it is made up of cotton cloth, so, it gets decomposed easily. One Eco Femme pad is equivalent to 120 disposable pads. Moreover, a single pad can be used for 3-5 years or even more. Hence, you won’t be adding waste to this choking planet. Even the press buttons which help in fastening around the garment can be removed and used later.
- Amazing Factor: With every purchase of a pad, Pad for Pad helps a girl in their menstrual cycle. Hence, Eco Femme develops an eco-sisterhood bond between its customers and adolescent girls.
- Product: Under Water Hyacinth Sanitary Pad Project, water hyacinth stems and bulbs are used as an absorbent. These pads are
- Impact on Environment: Water Hyacinth is a harbinger of parasites and also kills aquatic species by depleting oxygen. Hence, the use of water hyacinth in the making of sanitary napkins curbs the problems caused by water hyacinth. The sanitary napkins made from water hyacinth are 100% biodegradable.
- Amazing Factor: It is a venture started by Village Volunteers. Mukti Pads by New Light India is a social enterprise which works in collaboration with this company and sells pads made from water hyacinth. New Light is a venture which paves a route for the women of Kolkata’s Red Light area.
- Product: Jayaashree has amazed the world by its sanitary napkin machine which is operated with the help of electricity and foot pedals. Unlike, other expensive sanitary machines, it just costs Rs. 75,000 (exclusive of taxes). The machine can generate 1,000 pads in a day. These pads are chemical free and are made with pine wood pulp. To know more about its production, click here.
- Impact on Environment: These pads are free from chemicals,hence, they can be disposed of easily. Moreover, they prevent rashes.
- Amazing Factor: The founder of Jayaashree, Mr Arunachalam Muruganantham is famously known as ” Menstrual Man” in India.
- Product: Anandi Pads by Aakar Innovations are of two types; non-compostable and compostable. These pads are sterilized and disposable.
- Impact on Environment: These pads are 100% compostable. The material used in the making of pad gets degraded into natural substances within 90-180 days, of course depending on the environmental conditions.
- Amazing Factor: Currently, Aakar has 20+ units across India and has reached 50,000+ customers. Moreover, Aakar has employed 300+ women in mini factories.
- Product: Goonj is quite known for its effort of converting urban waste to useful products which can be used by the needy people. Not Just a Piece of Cloth (NJPC) is an initiative by Goonj where they manufacture My Pads. The clothes are washed, disinfected and recycled into pads which are made available to the poor at the cost of Rs.2 only.
- Impact on Environment: Since, these pads are made up of clothes and are chemical free, they can be easily degraded. Moreover, these pads are produced by recycling and that too without the help of machine in any of its process. Hence, resources of earth are used judiciously.
- Amazing Factor: By 2004, it had distributed 2.5 million pads to the poor and needy people.
7. Azadi Pads
- Product: Azadi Pads are 43% cheaper than the pads which are leading the market today.
- Impact on Environment: Azadi pads are 100% biodegradable.
- Amazing Factor: They have bagged angel investment of US $115,000 from a Chicago-based incubator, The Impact Engine.
8. Ruby Cup
- Product: It is a reusable menstrual cup which can be used for up to 10 years. Through their Buy One, Give One concept they help girls in need of this cup in Africa.
- Impact on Environment: As it is a reusable product,so, there is no issue of daily disposing. Hence, making it a sustainable menstruation.
- Amazing Factor: 4 Ruby cups will easily cover lifetime menstruation.
- Product: BanaPads not only supplies comfortable, eco-friendly affordable and hygienic pads to rural females but also empowers women entrepreneurs by micro-financing them. They are made from the pseudostems of banana and antimicrobial herbal leaves. From the production to the supply, everything is done by women.
- Impact on Environment: These pads are 100% biodegradable. They have reduced 30 million tonnes of waste and has produced 130,680 pads.
- Amazing Factor: The women who supply BanaPads are called “Champions”. By 2016, they have targeted to have over 400 Champions and to avail BanaPads to more than 50,000 rural women and girls.
- Product: It is a Uganda-based company which produces reusable, eco-friendly, affordable and healthy sanitary napkins for rural girls. These can be used for 12+ months. It supplies its product across the globe.
- Impact on Environment: It helps in maintaining the hygiene of female. Moreover, its reusable characteristic makes it economical and add less waste to earth.
- Amazing Factor: They have reached to more than 750,000 females across the globe.
Most of the social enterprises listed above are completely women-oriented which believe in “to the woman, for the woman and by the woman” philosophy. These enterprises also focus to reduce school absenteeism among girls and make them aware about menstruation.
To know more about such revolutionary entrepreneurs, visit Impactpreneurs.