Girls or Women in their lifetime uses 11000 tampons, or 22 sanitary products (pads or tampons per period). In India with the average sanitary pads costing about 4.38 per pad. This means that having a period is an expense that many cannot afford.
Periods are occasionally inconvenient for girls or women. But the more inconvenient is disposing of soiled sanitary napkins. Some women wrap it in plastic or paper and throw it along with domestic garbage whereas some flush them down or throw them into water bodies.
Some sanitary pads consist of plastic. And the plastic used in sanitary pads is non-biodegradable. It is not only harmful to health but also has negative consequences on the environment.
The concerned scientist, Mahesh Khandelwal from Uttar Pradesh, India have developed low-cost sanitary napkins for poor women. In addition, he redesigns and reinvents regular sanitary napkins manufactured in the market and make them more affordable and Eco-friendly too. The sanitary napkins that he developed are also known by WE napkins.
Khandelwal used to heat seal to attach fiber with the polymer, which can be later separated from each other. As compare to other napkins, these Eco-friendly sanitary napkins are more lightweight. Other polymer contained napkins lasts for around six hours. But, this WE sanitary napkin can last for around 12 hours.
Khandelwal said, “There are around 30 crore women in India who need sanitary napkins. I thought of developing a product which can be manufactured locally by women. Being a man, I didn’t know much about menstruation. So I read up a lot, talked to women and researched the subject extensively. I also studied products in the market and finally came up with a new design that seemed like the perfect solution.”
The WE sanitary napkins cost only Rs. 10 per packet of six pads. The napkins are also Eco-friendly- while the current products in the market have a high quantity of polymer (1.5 grams to 2 grams) that is not degradable, WE napkins have just 0.7 grams of polymer. To stick the polymer with fiber, Khandelwal uses heat seal. The polymer can be later separated from each other.
He said, “We make sure that we manufacture the right product for rural women — good in quality and affordable too. There are a few guidelines that manufacturers have to follow while making sanitary pads and our technology fulfills every single criterion.”
In addition with Sanitary napkins, Khandelwal develops an affordable machine to make these products. The machine consumes electricity for two hours only. The machine costs just Rs. 1 lakh. Using this, ten women can manufacture 2,000 packets of sanitary napkins in a day and they earn Rs. 5,000-6,000 a month.
In other words, the technology is not just providing low-cost sanitary napkins but also employment to the women manufacturing them.