Author – Rayomand Gheesta
I woke up the other day to the sound of the garbage man arguing with one of the residents of the township I stay in. He was protesting about the way sanitary napkins and used diapers were disposed of. Since they are medically pathogenic, he wanted people to properly dispose of them after use. On giving it some thought, I figured he had a point.
There isn’t a standardized way of disposing a sanitary napkin. It is just rolled in paper, put in a plastic bag and just thrown off in garbage. Waste workers while separating these non-biodegradable napkins, can be infected with infections and allergies. There badly needs a humane way for them to handle this kind of waste.
Used sanitary napkins and disposable diapers are one category of waste nobody wants to talk about. However, the enormous volumes of napkins produced and the threat they pose to the environment are real. On top of that, social taboo of an unspoken topic will always be a roadblock for bringing changes. It may need a lot of counseling, spreading of information and more than anything an open mind to shift to these options. But every sanitary napkin or disposable diaper you can save from a landfill will have a cascading effect and positively impact forests, water, air, the city you live in and your health.
Picture this: A parent choosing disposable diapers for an infant, typically till the baby is two years old, would run through nearly 1,500-2,000 disposable diapers (365 days x 2-3 diapers x 2 years), which would require 20 trees to be cut down and 1,180 liters of crude oil to be utilized for their manufacture. The statistics around feminine hygiene products are no less alarming. Only 12% of the 355 million women of menstruating age in India can afford disposable sanitary napkins. However, these 42.6 million Indian women will throw away 21.3 billion sanitary napkins into a landfill in their lives.
Apart from wood pulp used in both disposable diapers and sanitary napkins, chlorine bleach is a key ingredient that is used to whiten the pulp. Chlorine bleach is a huge environmental hazard that releases toxic chemicals as a by-product of the bleaching process. Diapers and sanitary napkins finally end up in a landfill since there is no option to dispose of them in a safe manner.
Eco-friendly sanitary napkin options for eco-conscious
Fortunately, as with any problem, there are a few innovative solutions for avoiding non-bio-degradable sanitary napkins and disposable diapers. Here are a few options available for concerned women who want to explore healthier and eco-friendly sanitary napkins:
Reusable Modern Cloth Diapers
As a substitute for normal diapers, Reusable modern cloth diapers can be used. These cloth diapers have a water-tight outer cover with a washable cloth insert inside. Once full, the wastes are flushed down the toilet and the insert can be washed and re-used. Further, the baby does not come in contact with harmful chemicals found in a normal disposable diaper and cloth diapers turn out far more economical over 2 years as compared to your regular environment polluting diapers. Click here to read more about eco-friendly diapers in India.
The first is the ‘SheCup’ made from silicone and designed like a cup to collect the menstrual blood that is worn internally. This can be worn for 12 hours. Once full, the contents of the cup can simply be emptied into the toilet, and the cup can be cleaned and worn again.
Reusable Sanitary Napkins
The second option is a reusable sanitary napkin made from cloth. The design and use of these cloth napkins are similar to disposable napkins, and they provide absorbency by using many layers of cotton. They have options for heavy and light-flow days and a combination of the two can fully substitute disposable napkins. They are quite easy to care for as well, and can even be washed in a washing machine after soaking and removing all the menstrual discharge. Here again, the reusable cloth napkins protect the user from coming in contact with a number of harmful chemicals found in disposable napkins.
Due to increasing consumption due to aggressive marketing, we have a situation where we are running out of space for waste disposal. To counter this, SWaCH NGO has come up with a disposable paper bag that costs just one rupee to pack the used sanitary napkin before chucking it into the dustbin. These bags have a bright yellow sticker with the details of usage, which makes it recognizable by waste pickers to separate it. However, this solution just caters to the tip of the problem.
Bio-degradable Sanitary Pad Innovations in India
A third option is to use Biodegradable sanitary napkins that are disposable being produced by a few companies. Here is an exhaustive list of companies that produce eco-friendly sanitary napkins in India.
- Arunachalam Muruganantham of Jayaashree Industries designed and implemented a sanitary napkin-making machine that operates on a small scale. This manual sanitary napkin-making machine can be made available to a buyer for approximately INR75,000. This national innovation foundation award-winning idea allows smaller players to adopt the business model, and thus generates more employment.
- Aakar Foundation produces a low-cost, biodegradable eco-friendly sanitary napkin, ‘Anandi’. Priced at a price 40% lower than commercial napkins, the foundation focuses on small towns and villages and now has a commercial production unit in West Bengal.
- Sakura Magic produced by the Hope Foundation is India’s first 100% handmade, hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly sanitary napkin. It is a sanitary napkin with imported SAP Gel from Japan made possible with technological assistance from GN Corporation., Japan.
- Reusable diapers are slowly gaining popularity. ‘Bumchum’ was India’s first modern diaper line, but now various brands like Firstcry, Smartbaby, Babyoye offer the same.
nice post, ecological diaper are best for small babies and it protect them from unwanted rashes.
Thanks for bringing more awareness to sustainable menstrual products in India and the importance of using them! There are also more great menstrual products produced in India. The Vcup, Shomota Pads, Eco Femme Pads and Uger Pads! Check them out!
Hi Meghna, thanks for bringing up the variety of sustainable menstrual products in India.
Hi, please tell us about napkins price in whole sale….. I want business in Tamil nadu near Chennai….
Hi…I’m interested in a start-up of biodegradable sanitary pads…need ur suggestions
Thank you very much for your interest in this idea. we need more details about your business so will send you a separate mail soon
[…] best option is to opt for reusable sanitary napkin made from cloth. Its design is very much similar to disposable napkins, and they provide absorbency by using many […]
Helo there can you please suggest any ngo or any manufacturer making reusable sanitary pads as required in bulk to distribute in rural and underprivileged areas.
please check this search option for a list of all sanitary pad makers –
Please visit we are UN status NGO manufacture http://www.saukhyampads.org promoted by Matha Amritatananda Mayi Math kerala
This is Rotarian Dr. Param Saini. My club just started making bio-degradeble sanitary pads for low income families at a very affordable rate. Our purpose is to promote feminine hygiene, ensure the ease of disposal and keep the environment safe. If you are interested to buy in bulk, please contact me
Thank you very much for your response. we do not allow posting contact details in our comments. i request you to post your company listing in our green directory and then post the link here – https://www.ecoideaz.com/green-directory/
Hi this is sneha
I wanted to know more about the products as I wanted to start up with new sanitary napkins business.
Request you to Give me details on the products.
Thank you very much for your interest to start a green business. i request you to send your details to editor @ecoideaz.com
Hi this is Ranu from Saathi Eco Innovations, Saathi is WORLDS FIRST 100% BIODEGRADABLE Sanitary pads. We make Pads from Banana Fiber. you can mention Saathi also at this post.
you can visit out website for more details at http://www.saathipads.com.
we have already covered the good work done by your organisation in various other articles. Do check these links where Saathi Pads is featured – https://www.ecoideaz.com/?s=saathi
Hello, this is truly amazing! Can I get more details of the same?
Thanks in advance
We would like to manufacture these as well…can we establish in Andhra Pradesh?
Hi Srivani, thank you very much for your interest. yes, you can do it in small scale and we can help you set up your unit. please send your location, investment details to editor @ecoideaz.com
Hi, We would like to setup a manufacture unit at West Bengal. Can I get more details for the same to start the unit?
Please send us a few details about your business unit – investment range, exact location of unit, number of partners, etc, to editor @ecoideaz.com
Hi, I would like to start a small scale biodegradable sanitary napkin production unit at Trivandrum, Kerala. Please guide me
saukhyam Reusable Sanitary pads – our mission is to empower women and girls through business, innovation and opportunity.
We are a social enterprise that specializes in the local manufacture and global supply of reusable sanitary pads as a cost-effective menstrual hygiene solution for millions of women and girls worldwide.
Sanitary Napkins have become very harmful, loaded with hazardous Bacteria, spoiling the earth, atmosphere, spoiling the nature etc. after one use only.
So washable and reusable cloth pad and period panties are advisable.
Speedy production of disposable napkins is good, but awareness also needed for their safe disposal. alternative safety measures are also needed. Research on sustainable, eco friendly, reusable napkins is also needed and implemented in time limits.
Thank you very much for your valuable suggestions. would you be interested in researching on this topic for us? if yes, please mail us at editor @ecoideaz.com
We would like to manufacture these as well…can we establish in Telangana
Please check our detailed article on businesses in sanitary pads – https://www.ecoideaz.com/showcase/eco-friendly-sanitary-pads-offered-real-life-padman-padwoman
We are welcoming to make a product to Transform India.
Set up a Manufacturing Unit in your area.
1-First you have to survey by contacting customer for your Product.
This is involved Lot of advertisement to make awareness.
A lot of NGOS are showing more Interest on this Product.
2- And then you can start your Factory.
For that you need Technician to lead the Factory.
This Product is Need 5 type of material . available in bulk only against full payment.
Consider the above fact before starting unit.
Manufacturing and retail selling involved difficult tasks. If you are interested contact us by mail
We are only one manufacturing Exporter and domestic seller of cloth pad and Period panties.
We can send samples . With this you can contact consumer and can start marketing.
So please contact us for further discussion.
Please avoid posting long messages and your contact details. you can post your company details in our Green Directory section
Hi…I’m interested in a start-up of biodegradable sanitary pads in westbengal…need ur suggestions
thank you very much for your interest in this project. please mail me your contact details at editor @ecoideaz.com
Hello,’We are manufacturing cloth pad in 100% cotton material.If you are interested feel free to contact us.
Hi, how can we purchase the sanitary pads?
Hi Vidula, we have listed many such companies in our green directory, please check
Thanks for the inquiry.
We are only one manufacturing 100% cotton knitted cloth pad and Period panties.
We are selling our product to NGOs and Online sellers at very competitive price. check our company details – https://www.ecoideaz.com/green-directory/ww-group-uk-2/
I would like to setup a manufacturer of eco friendly sanitary napkins in Rwanda (East African Country).
Kindly advise how you can assist me on this.
hi,i want to start manufacturing unit for eco friendly sanitary pads in mumbai.please tell how the raw materials, cosumables required for the same.
we can send you a business project report on sanitary pads if you are ready to pay for it. please mail us at editor @ecoideaz.com
The time is changing and this evolution will definitely gonna benefit so many Indian girls who face a lot of problems only because of the lack of awareness and resources. These startups will help so many girls to achieve their dream goals. This will help them think much broader than earlier. Recently I had also discovered one company related to eco-friendly sanitary napkins i.e CARMESI (Colour of Blood) and these start-ups will help to build the future of girls from our great nation”INDIA”.
if you can list your Carmesi in our green directory, we could get you some business – https://www.ecoideaz.com/green-directory
good afternoon. I have gone through the above article and very much interested to establish a home based unit for manufacturing of Eco friendly sanitary napkins.May I request your good self to kindly give necessary guidance regarding how to get the raw materials, machines, training and financial assistance for the purpose, please ?
Regards, Sanjukta, Odisha
Hi, We are interested in a start-up of Bio-degradable sanitary pads from Banana fiber in Maharashtra, need your Suggestion & Valuable guideline for it, Thanks & Regards
Is it more economically viable to become a distributor of some renowned degradabable napkin or one should enter into its manufacturing and selling both.
Hi Varun, Yes it is more viable to be a distributor of established napkin brands first than to enter into manufacturing
I want machine in j n k kathua
I Read your blog and I feel it is a very wonderful, informative blog .