Pads. Irritation. Plastic. Rashes. Menstruation can be messy in more ways than one. Despite intense social campaigning in the past few years, the issue continues to be taboo in several parts of the country. Especially in rural India, a lot of women still do not have access to education regarding menstruation or to products such as sanitary pads to help them through their period. And even in urban areas, where sanitary pads are more easily available, little is done in terms of educating users about the detrimental effects these products have on the environment.
But a group of entrepreneurs from MIT is all set to change this. In 2014, three women, studying in MIT, Kristin Kagetsu, Amrita Saigal and Grace Kane, set up Saathi, a company that would make biodegradable sanitary napkins made out of banana fiber. Now, almost two years later, they are set to launch their product into the competitive market.
A friend to the environment
“The idea was to create a product which will not only be useful to menstruating women but also be responsible to the environment. ” Kirstin Kagetsu, one of the founders and Current CEO of Saathi Pads tells ScoopWhoop News.
Every year, sanitary pad waste collects in landfills, where it piles up into a toxic, non-biodegradable mass of bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Incineration, one of the most common ways to dispose of such waste, has to be done in such a way that the toxic fumes released do not escape into the air.
A child collects plastic bags in a landfill | Source: Reuters
Here is where Saathi pads differs:
“We make our pads out of banana fiber. Unlike other commercial brands, we do not use any chemicals such as bleach and materials such as variants of plastic and rayon. Saathi pads are made using 100% eco-friendly materials such biodegradable plastic, non-woven biodegradable SAP. It naturally decomposes within 6 months.” Kristin told ScoopWhoop News.
A friend to women
The main focus behind the venture was however the sheer unavailability of commercial sanitary pads to women, especially in rural India. “Only 16% of women in India use sanitary napkins. What are the other women using? Kristin asks.