About 21.8 billion disposable sanitary pads are used annually in India, generating over 100,000 tonnes of waste every year. The majority of them are made using plastics and chemicals like bleach, which means they can take up to 600 years to degrade into microplastics, and often emit toxic fumes when burned for disposal. At the same time, many Indian women still struggle to access affordable and effective menstrual products, especially in the country’s most rural areas. Saathi offers a solution in the form of completely biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made from banana fibre, one of India’s most abundant and absorbent natural fibres. Unlike wood pulp or cotton, banana fibres are an agricultural by-product that doesn’t require additional land usage to generate. Saathi’s pads are also designed to be free of bleach and chemicals, ensuring minimal toxicity and risk of irritation. Through its inclusive business model, Saathi also works to provide pads for women in need, allowing their urban customers to subsidise these products and programmes. To date, Saathi’s activities have already resulted in the elimination of 36 metric tonnes of plastic waste, and the reduction of 71 metric tonnes of carbon emissions. Besides sanitary pads, Saathi is also currently building a model for sustainable manufacturing of absorbent products for use in the food industry.

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