For a good seven years or so, I was absolutely opposed to the idea of using anything else other than disposable sanitary napkins during periods. My mother had taught me how to use and dispose of them along with telling me what alternatives (discarded but sanitised cloth) I can use during an emergency. Only once did I resort to cloth, and the experience convinced me that nothing can be better than a sanitary napkin during that time of the month.
And yet, as the date of my period loomed closer every month, so did the guilt of polluting the environment. So what does one do when they are not comfortable switching to reusable sanitary products but also don’t want to burden the oceans and landfills?
Saathi has the answer.
This Gujarat-based organisation has come up with an eco-friendly biodegradable sanitary napkin made of banana skin fibres which you can now use guilt-free.
Saathi was co-founded by Kristen Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal and Grace Kane in 2015 with the objective to reduce waste production in the hygiene sector by producing safe and eco-friendly female hygiene products.
“What we were trying to get to was a material that is both sustainable and naturally-absorbent. That way, we could make pads that can biodegrade easily and banana stem fibres were the answer to our queries. What’s more, these fibres are agricultural waste and so were easy to obtain and did not require extra resources to be cultivated.”
Bananas are extensively grown in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Banana plants are highly versatile. Apart from the obvious use of the fruit, banana stem is also consumed in many regions and its bark is used to make household products. But, the fibrous middle layer stem is rarely utilised. And this very layer was the perfect material for Saathi pads.
Once the material was finalised, the Saathi team partnered with over a thousand farmers from across the country to provide them with the component which would have been otherwise discarded. “These banana fibres go through processes that make them soft. You would imagine a rough material at the mention of banana fibres but just like a soft paper is the product of a rough bamboo, our pads are also made in a way as to provide you with utmost comfort. The top and the bottom layer of the pad is also made of plant-based material and so, after disposal, the pad will biodegrade within six months!” Tarun says.
Overall, Saathi is helping over 5,000 farmers in Gujarat and other states get additional income. But of course, depending on the season, availability and unforeseeable circumstances, farmers can opt-in and out of the partnership. Having said that, at any given point of time, Saathi works with 1,800 farmers.
We understand that you want to be the most comfortable during your periods. And we wouldn’t want to take the comfort away from you. But, comfort should not be at the cost of harming the environment. India discards over a billion non-degradable pads every month. And you are a part of it. Take this opportunity to be one less individual who adds to this pile of non-compostable sanitary pads.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)