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Biodegradable pads promote feminine healthcare

Global Goals & Global Society
Biodegradable pads promote feminine healthcare

In a country like India, where only 36 percent of women have access to disposable sanitary napkins, the issue of menstrual hygiene and its impact on the environment has gained significant attention. According to the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI), approximately 12.3 billion non-biodegradable pads are discarded each year, posing a dual crisis of environmental degradation and women's health concerns. To address this pressing issue, several startups have emerged, focusing on producing biodegradable pads that promote sustainable feminine healthcare.

Ahmedabad-based company Saathi is leading the way in manufacturing biodegradable pads using bamboo and banana fibers. Saathi follows a cradle-to-cradle business model, embodying the principles of a circular economy. These pads degrade within six months, which is 1200 times faster than regular plastic pads. Saathi has been recognized with various awards, including the 2019 St Andrews Prize for the Environment and being named the 3rd Most Innovative Company in India by Fast Company in 2019.

Another notable player in the market is Nurture Organics, which produces chlorine-free, 100 percent natural cotton top sheet fragrance-free pads. These pads use hypoallergenic natural cotton that offers protection against allergies and skin irritation. Nurture Organic also incorporates a silver ion chip that provides anti-fungal and anti-bacterial action, capable of eliminating 99.9 percent of bacteria within an hour.

Carmesi, a company that sells sanitary pads made from bamboo fiber and corn starch, has also made strides in the industry. In addition to pads, Carmesi offers intimate care products such as liners, intimate cleansers, and a stress relief lotion. The company has successfully raised $500,000 in angel funding and its founder, Tanvi Johri, has been recognized in Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia and India lists.

Heyday is another player that manufactures pads made from bamboo and corn fiber, known for their high absorbing properties. Founded by Deepanjali Dalmia with a social impact focus, Heyday offers two variants of pads: Maxi fluff and Ultra Thin. The company also produces panty liners.

Anandi, developed by Aakar Innovations, caters to rural women and women in urban slums with cheap and 100 percent compostable sanitary napkins. These pads, certified by Government of India Labs as safe and fully compostable, are produced and managed by women from rural India. The earnings generated from Anandi pads go directly back to these women. Currently, a pack of Anandi pads is available for INR 40.

These biodegradable pad-making startups are not only addressing the issue of limited access to basic feminine health and hygiene requirements but are also contributing to the vision of a global society committed to sustainability and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By promoting sustainable and affordable menstrual care products, these initiatives align with SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Additionally, they emphasize the role of civil society in driving sustainable development by empowering women and advocating for inclusive healthcare solutions.

The commitment of these companies to produce eco-friendly pads and their support for women in rural areas and urban slums exemplify the principles of sustainability and social responsibility. By adopting environmentally friendly practices, they contribute to SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

As India continues to grapple with the challenges of menstrual hygiene and environmental sustainability, the efforts of these biodegradable pad-making startups serve as an inspiration for other industries and individuals to prioritize sustainable practices and work towards a more inclusive and environmentally conscious society.

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