The practice based research and design intent is to address two distinct yet related public health issues: poor menstrual hygiene practices and the growing mountain of non biodegradable sanitary waste.
1. Poor menstrual health: Over 200 million women in India are ignorant about safe menstrual hygiene practices. Poor menstrual health practices have a serious detrimental affect on education and health outcomes for girls and women. It is estimated that 88% of menstruating women in India use alternatives such as old fabric, rags, ash, sand, wood shavings, newspaper, dry leaves, hay and plastic to manage their menstrual flow. There is a 70% increase in incidence of reproductive tract infections owing to poor menstrual hygiene. Adolescent girls in particular are most adversely affected and may miss up to 20% of schooling due to lack of access to clean, absorbent materials and lack of facilities such as toilets.
2. No way to deal adequately with sanitary waste: Commercially available sanitary napkins are a major environmental hazard. Made primarily of different layers of plastics including super absorbent polymers (to enable the pads to expand and absorb vast amounts of fluid), these products are non biodegradable. Consequently, they end up in land fill or litter road sides and water bodies or are burned, releasing highly toxic dioxins. These products have rapidly gained acceptance due to the appeal of convenience. If their adoption were to become the mainstream practice, India would need to manage over 580,000 tons of non biodegradable sanitary waste each year (based on 350 million women of reproductive age in India)
The challenge therefore was to develop
a sustainable menstrual product option that would cause no negative impact on health and environment and would find acceptance and be affordable across class and caste.
a model for assessing sustainable menstrual management, one that would help users to take decisions when selecting menstrual products
Uger cloth pads (sustainable menstrual product)
The pads are made up of layers of cotton cloth to withstand washing and re-use for up to 3 years. The contour fits the body well, the wings with snaps fix the product to underwear.