There is a safer alternative to regular sanitary pads – and it’ll make you go bananas!

1. Company name: Saathi
2. Founder name(s) – Kristin Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal & Grace Kane
3. City it is based out of – Ahmedabad
4. Headcount/Strength of the team – 8
5. Industry – Sustainable manufacturing/Healthcare
6. Investors & Amount raised: Undisclosed

While the news of Kerala distributing free sanitary napkins to 300 government schools has been welcomed with a collective sigh of relief, this modest development has been dwarfed by the fact that most women in India still have to pay 12% tax on something that has been deemed less important than chocolates and shampoos.

With feminine hygiene products remaining uneconomical, it would take an arm and a leg for most women – especially in the rural pockets of the country – to afford a reasonable standard of sanitation.

It is this travesty of basic rights that drove four youngsters in their 20s to set up camp in India and work towards a lasting solution – one that turned out to serve not only women, but the environment too.

Healthy beginning
Started in 2015, Ahmedabad-based Saathi is a social enterprise run by a quartet of mechanical engineers from Harvard and MIT.

“We evaluated the logic of making sanitary pads using freely available banana tree fibres as its core component,” says co-founder and CEO, Kristin Kagetsu. “Besides being an eco-friendly material that provides great absorbency, it would also benefit farmers who typically discard them after harvesting the fruit,” she adds.

Grace Kane, another co-founder of the startup, also firmly believes that people should not have to choose between women’s health and the health of the environment since regular sanitary pads contains non-biodegradable plastics, chlorine-bleached wood pulp and other toxic additives.

According to her, 9 lakh tons of waste would be produced every year if every woman in India used this. “For perspective, this means that over her lifetime, the average woman will generate 23 kg of plastic from sanitary pads alone,” she says.

Saathi pads, on the other hand, do not contain gels, chemicals or synthetic fibres and degrades within six months – which, according to its makers, is 1200x faster than regular pads.

Saathi pads are made from banana fibres and decomposes in under six months, unlike regular napkins that are plastic-based.

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Two birds, one stone
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