New Delhi: Kristin Kagetsu, 27, is a New Yorker by birth, but has now moved to India and made Ahmedabad her home. The reason behind this move is because she wants to tackle a problem that’s important for every woman’s health – menstrual hygiene. In 2014, Kristin first came to India on a fieldwork project to develop all natural crayons. After this project, she started working with Avanti (an NGO) in Uttarakhand and that changed everything. Kristin made up her mind to work on environmental challenges India’s facing. In 2015, Kristin a graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology started her journey to find solutions to problems like – how each and every woman in India can have access to sanitary napkins, second, how can we stop adding to India’s growing menstrual waste woes. Together with other graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Amrita Saigal and Grace Kane, an idea was conceived, make 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins that can help menstruating women, and be environment-friendly.
By the end of 2015, the team came out with a sustainable solution, by the name of Saathi Pads in Gujarat. The pads are made using locally sourced banana fibre from the state, and these can decompose naturally in three months if disposed of in the soil and six months if it ends up in city’s landfills.
And, because of this innovative product, Kristin Kagetsu on Wednesday bagged USD 30,000 and became one of the finalists in the 2018 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. Kristin is the second finalist from India, who will join 16 others from around the world in Singapore to participate in an awards week programme, in April.
Explaining about Saathi Pads, Kristin added,
Since beginning the idea was to create a product that will not only be useful for women across India but also is responsible towards the environment. For the consumer there is a health benefit because a Saathi Pad is completely chemical-free and is made using all-natural materials.
Also Read: Know All About Saathi Products
The Journey Of Eco-Friendly Pads
On an average, there is about 3.4 grams of plastic in one conventional sanitary pad, this means that the average woman generates approximately 23kg of plastic from sanitary pads alone over her lifetime. This ends up adding to our already overflowing landfills.
Saathi Pads are 100% biodegradable and decompose 1200 times faster than a conventional sanitary pad as it just takes 6 months to decompose within the landfills.
Explaining more benefits of the Saathi Pads to NDTV, Tarun Bothra, Chief Engineer at Saathi pads and head of the India operations added,
The conventional pads use wood pulp as their middle layer and for that 100 of trees are cut regularly. While, Saathi pads are made out of banana waste which we buy from the farmers thereby helping them earn more. This waste would have made its way into the trash bin, but we are reducing that load from our planet and using it to make sanitary napkins for women. Moreover, in conventional pads, a lot of bleach is used, that’s the reason why wood pulp material looks so white. The bleach is a cancer causing agent and there are many studies to prove that. In Saathi pads, there is no usage of such elements and that’s the reason why it has a traditional soft brown colour.
For urban woman, cost of one Saathi pad is Rs. 20, while for rural woman it is Rs. 5. One can easily buy these products through their online site.
Saathi pads have also taken an initiative to provide 1 million sanitary pads to rural women in Jharkhand, for this they are asking people to donate some amount so that they can help provide eco-friendly pads to women in Jharkhand for free.