New Delhi: In India, mere 12 per cent of 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins. While the rest, that’s 88 per cent rely on unhygienic methods like using an unsanitised cloth, ashes, sand or even husk. While that is one end of the problem the other aspect is that the minuscule percentages of women who use sanitary pads generate a substantial amount of waste every month. To be precise, over 1 billion sanitary pads make its way into the landfills every month and continue to overburden the landfill and pose a threat to the environment as conventional sanitary napkins take 100 of years to decompose completely.
On this International Women’s Day, we take a look at five women who apart from propagating about menstrual hygiene also promote eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
1. Deepanjali Dalmia, Founder Of Heyday
26-year-old, Deepanjali Dalmia, quit her high-paying job in New York in 2015, to work on an innovation that will help thousands of women around her. Last year, Deepanjali launched her innovative product, an organic sanitary pad brand called Heyday. The sanitary pad is 100% biodegradable and is made using bamboo fibre, which has high absorbance levels, and corn, for its soft texture. Heyday is manufacturing the pads in China and Finland and is packaging these in India. The reason for setting up manufacturing firms abroad is non-availability of chemical-free soil in India. Despite that, the products are being sold at a reasonable price. Currently, there are two types of sanitary napkins available – one ultra-thin sanitary pads are available at a cost price of Rs. 85 (7 pads), Rs. 165 (14 pads) and second, maxi fluff sanitary pads that are available at a cost price of Rs. 79 (7 pads) and Rs.155 (14 pads).
These pads are available to women in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Mumbai in 24×7 stores. Whereas, the rest of India can purchase these online.
From the sanitary pads to its cover and packaging, everything biodegrades itself naturally within six months.
For this innovation, Deepanjali also made it to Forbes India’s 30 Under 30 list in 2017 that features exceptional Indians under 30 who are creating a new India.
2. Kristin Kagetsu, Founder Saathi Pads
Kristin Kagetsu, 27, left the comfort of her home in New York and moved to India, because she wanted to tackle environmental challenges that country is currently facing – menstrual hygiene and waste management. In 2015, Kristin, who is a graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology started her journey to find solutions to these problems. Together with other graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Amrita Saigal and Grace Kane, an idea to make 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins was conceived. At the end of the year, eco-friendly sanitary napkins that can decompose naturally within six months in the brand name of Saathi Pads were launched in Gujarat. These pads are made using locally sourced banana fibre from the state, and are being sold at a price of Rs. 20 per pad for urban women. While for rural woman it is being sold for Rs. 5 per pad.
The products are also available online on their official site.
For this innovation, Kristin Kagetsu recently bagged USD 30,000 and became one of the second finalists from India in the 2018 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.
3. Project Baala By Soumya Dabriwal and Nitisha Sethia
Delhi-based Soumya Dabriwal and Nitisha Sethia from Kolkata, both independent social workers, met through a common friend and soon realised that they want to do come up with a solution that solves problem of women hygiene and does not cause further environment pollution. For this they launched Project Baala and started visiting rural slums to distribute sanitary kit and educate women of the area about menstrual hygiene. Project Baala has travelled to villages across India; so far, they have covered states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and hope to cover the entire country soon.
The sanitary napkin kit they provide includes three pads that is re-usable and can be used for a period of 1.5 to 2 years. The pad is made of three layers of cloth stitched together.
4. Jayshree Parwar, Head of the Self Help Group Saheli And Maker Of Sakhi Pads
Back in 2015, Jayshree Parwar set up a manufacturing unit of making pads at her home, when many in that village simply shied away because they were too ashamed of the concept. Today, she along with 10 other women is making 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins in the name of Sakhi Pads in Goa and is selling at a cost price of Rs. 40 (8 pads). The pads are made using pine wood paper, silicon paper, butter paper and can be decomposed within 8 days unlike the plastic based conventional pads that take more than 100 years to decompose completely.
The brand that has been registered in the name of Teerathan Enterprises, now has buyers not just in Goa, but across the globe as the pads are available in different online stores.
Till date, more than 2,000 sanitary pads have been sold.
5. Gayathri Subramanian, Founder Of Jaioni
When designer Gayathri Subramanian realised that there is a lack of sustainable menstrual products available in the Indian market, she thought of turning into a manufacturer of cloth pads. Today, along with the brand of Jaioni, she has started the cloth pad revolution in the country. Her products are available on Amazon, ebay and one can place an order for the pads through her official facebook page.
Jaioni pads are made with excess fabrics; the cloth pads are available in bright colors and prints. As they are made using cloth, the pads are re-usable and can be reused for 1-2 years.