Fed Up Of Harmful Chemical-Laden Sanitary Napkins, 19-Yr-Old Started Making Her Own Reusable Cloth Pads
For the past six months, 19-year old I. Ishana from Coimbatore has been doing her bit to change women’s life one sanitary napkin at a time. She makes cloth pads using cotton that can be washed and reused multiple times.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Ishana said: “I am doing this for the people in India. Every girl is facing problems due to regular sanitary napkins made of plastic. These cause health issues like rashes.”
After completing her 12th grade, Ishani took up a course in fashion designing for six months. To fulfill her wishes of becoming an entrepreneur, she soon started her own boutique. It was then that she ventured into developing reusable sanitary pads.
Called Ana cloth pads, she had initially started making these pads for personal use when she started facing health problems during her periods. She then introduced these to her friends, who were suffering from similar issues. As her sanitary pads became an instant hit among her friends and family, she started a small enterprise to make the pads available to more people.
She uses pure cotton to make both the inner and outer fabric of the sanitary pads. They are free from any kinds of chemicals that are harmful to the body and can be easily washed for reuse.
Although not necessary, she recommends soaking them in turmeric powder after washing and then drying in sunlight. Before using them the next month, she also recommends keeping a wet cloth over the pads and ironing it at least two days prior to use, for added comfort.
“Clothes were traditionally used during menstruation. Sanitary pads came to India only 30 years ago. Before that, people would only use clothes from saree or veshti(dhoti). Even my mom used those,” Ishana said.
Ishana also added that, as the plastic disposable pads dominate the market, most women are left with no choice.
Ishana’s reasons for producing cloth pads do not just end with women’s health. “The pads are not only harmful to women, but also to the environment. And through my venture, I hope to spread awareness about the benefits of cloth pads,” Ishana said. “In Coimbatore, there are many rivers. But now these are polluted with plastic pads and their covers. This is also one of the main reason for introducing the cloth pads,” she added.
The plastic pads do not decompose and end up polluting the environment for years to come. However, as the pads made by Ishana are made of cotton alone, they decompose quickly. If maintained properly, one pad can be used around 12 times, claims Ishana.
The young woman’s small venture is also helping to empower the women in her neighbourhood. Ishana works with 25 women who have tailoring machines at home. She sends cut pieces to these women, who then stitch the pads in the comforts of their home. “We are helping them to earn a livelihood from their own homes,” she said.
After hearing her story, traders from places like Salem, Hyderabad, and Kerala has approached her for distributing the pads in their respective places. At present, Ishana produces only one kind of sanitary pads. “In the future, I would like to make pads for the bedridden and children’s diapers as well,” Ishana added.