These Biodegradable Pads Are Improving Feminine Healthcare In India
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In a country like India, where according to Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI) only 36 per cent of women have access to disposable sanitary napkins. The waste produced by these 36 per cent of women is a whopping 12.3 billion pads a year. Apart from generating huge amounts of non-biodegradable waste, these pads use unnatural and harmful synthetic and plastic ingredients like polyethylene and polypropylene, chlorine bleaches, which are harmful to a woman's health.
To combat the dual crisis of environmental degradation and the dismal state of feminine hygiene, a slew of biodegradable pad making startups have come up in the country. However, most of these startups are targetting urban middle-class women, which does not solve the already askew problem of limited access to basic feminine health and hygiene requirements by rural women.
Ahemdabad headquartered Saathi makes biodegradable pads using bamboo and banana fibres. Saathi follows cradle to cradle (completely sustainable) business model which also embodies circular economy. Saathi pads degrade within six months which is 1200 times faster than regular plastic pads. The company has been the recipient of various awards like 2019 St Andrews Prize for the Environment, Grand Winner at Asia Social Innovations Award 2017 and Fast Company named Saathi as the 3rd Most Innovative Company in India, 2019 among various other.
Nurture Organic produces Chlorine-free, 100 per cent natural cotton top sheet fragrance-free pads. The hypoallergenic 100% natural cotton used in these pads provides protection against allergies and skin irritation. The pad also uses a silver ion chip that protects against anti-fungal and anti-bacterial action. The company claims that silver ion is capable of eliminating 99.9 per cent of bacteria exposed in no more than 1 hour and also silver adapts well to body temperature and is anti-static which promotes good circulation and comfort.
Carmesi sells sanitary pads made from bamboo fibre and corn starch. Apart from pads the company offers other intimate care products for women like liners, intimate cleanser and a bra stress relief lotion. Carmesi has successfully raised about $500,000 in angel funding from a slew of investors, including Sunil Kalra. Carmesi founder, Tanvi Johri is also featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia and India list.
Heyday pads are made from bamboo and corn fibre which have high absorbing properties. The company’s founder Deepanjali Dalmia started the company as she wanted to create a social impact. Heyday pads are available in two variants namely, Maxi fluff and Ultra Thin. The company also makes Panty liners.
Anandi byAakar Innovations
Anandi makes cheap and 100 per cent compostable sanitary napkins, catering to rural women and women in urban slums with a sustainable and affordable menstrual care product. Anadi Pads are certified by Government of India Labs as safe and cent per cent compostable. Anadi pads are made and managed by women from rural India and the earnings go back to them. Currently, a pack of Anandi pads is available for INR 40.