India-based company has developed menstrual pads from banana plant fibres that are free from harsh chemicals and biodegrade within six months.
Spotted: A growing number of startups are targeting women’s healthcare, from the smart menstrual cup to sanitary pads that double as a diagnostic kit. Now, India-based Saathi is confronting the sanitary pad waste footprint with a more sustainable solution.
Saathi has developed biodegradable sanitary pads for women using the stems of banana plants. These fibres are highly absorbent and can handle heavy flows. Being plant-based, the pads will biodegrade within 6 months of disposal. Additionally, the pads contain only natural products. Sanitary pads are usually made from plastics with chemicals such as bleach and other potential irritants added.
Banana stem fibres are routinely discarded after the fruit is harvested. Saathi are now paying farmers for the stems, providing a source of profit where before there was just waste. Saathi is using revenue from sales to subsidise pads for users in rural areas. Women in parts of rural India, like Jharkand where the initiative is taking place, suffer from stigma and lost working days, due to lack of access to menstrual products. The initiative is called #OneMillionPads and is taking donations via the company’s website. Saathi pads are available in India for INR 224 for a pack of eight.