New Delhi: “A traditional sanitary napkin has the equivalent of four plastic bags in it. Over a women’s entire menstruating lifetime, she would have used and discarded approximately 10,000-15,000 pads and the equivalent of 40,000-60,000 plastic bags. Being a woman, I just asked a question to myself – where will so much plastic waste be going? I know for a fact it is a not biodegradable product, so will it remain on this planet forever. The answer was a big ‘Yes’. And, that was the beginning of Saukhyam Pads,” says Anju Bist, co-creator of Saukhyam Pads. With a purpose to provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional sanitary pads, Anju joined Amrita SeRVe (Self Reliant Village) by Mata Amritanandamayi Math programme. The programme has adopted 101 villages throughout India with the goal of helping them become self-reliant role-model villages for the country. One of the areas of work is to provide women an easy access to good menstrual hygiene.
After few years of research, a sanitary pad that is both environment-friendly and is hygienic – Saukhyam Pads, launched in October 2017. The pads are made using banana fiber as the absorbent material and cotton cloth as the base. Currently, these pads are available across India, one can purchase these online. In Bengaluru and Chennai, these pads are easily available in many offline stores.
Elaborating on this innovation, Anju adds,
Because these pads are made using banana fibres, the pads dry very fast, absorb much more than other cloth pads. The banana fibre used in the pads is a no-stain material and is much better than traditional cloth pad. It is also easy to wash. One just have to soak the pad in cold water, rinse it, use a soap, just like you will watch a handkerchief. And voila, your pad is fresh and ready to use again.
Saukhyam Pads are available for Rs. 600 (that contains 2-day pad base along with 1 three-fold inserts and 2 two-fold inserts) for an urban population which is 75% cheaper than the conventional branded pads available in the market. For rural women, the same pads are provided at a much lower cost, depending on the scenarios. The pads are designed in such a way that it can last for 4 to 5 years.
On an average, one spends at least ₹ 2,000 every year on buying sanitary pads, and perhaps close to ₹ 75,000 over the lifetime. Saukhyam Pads is a one-time investment. Moreover, it is better for health, easier on the wallet, and better for the planet, adds Anju.
Working with twin goals to first, prevent an environmental catastrophe, and second, to give each and every woman of India an easy access to sanitary napkins, the project now has found the third purpose, to provide employment to rural women. Saukhyam Pads has currently set up production centers in villages of Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Women are also being trained in Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal to make these pads for their own use as well as sell them in neighboring villages and cities.