Tired of Toxic Sanitary Napkins, Coimbatore Teen is Making Her Own Eco-Friendly Cotton Pads

News18.com

Fed up of uncomfortable and hazardous synthetic sanitary napkins and the toll they take on the environment, an 18-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu has started producing her own eco-friendly napkins made of cotton.

Ishana, who is a resident of Coimbatore, started the venture when she realized that scores of women continued to be uneducated about menstrual hygiene. She says she decided to make her own pad after she faced health problems using regular, non-biodegradable pads. Once she found out that many of her friends had faced similar problems, Ishana scaled up production.

Today, Ishana owns a workshop in Ganpathi, Coimbatore, that employs 20 women who assist her in making the pads and make about Rs 5,000 a month. The budding entrepreneur finished her secondary education and did a six-months course in fashion designing before jumping into the venture. According to a report in ETV Bharat, the young-adult is now looking for corporates to back her bid.

Unlike sanitary pads that use toxic, absorption-increasing gels, Ishana's biodegradable pads are made of layers of cotton are relatively safer for both women as well as the environment. And they take just six days to decompose unlike synthetic pads that take years.

But one of the most important impacts of her work is the effect it is having on the local community of women, including the ones working with her. The News Minute interviewed the women in October and found that most of them found a new lease on life as the job empowered them.

Her work found praise on social media with many calling her "brave" and a "role model" for other girls.

With increased awareness about the environmental hazards caused by improper disposal of synthetic sanitary napkins as well as growing awareness of menstrual health and hygiene, many new players have entered the eco-friendly menstrual product market.

However, the sector is still largely dominated and led by independent start-ups such as Ishana's, rural or semi-rural entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations working for women’s reproductive health and sanitation and/or Menstrual health management.

Unlike corporates, these manufacturers are small in terms of finances, funding and infrastructure. They lack manpower for production and R&D. In many cases, these initiatives include women from SHGs.