Amrita Self-Reliant Village (SeRVe) has come up with pads made of banana fiber called Saukhyam Pads. Unlike disposable sanitary napkins, these pads are reusable and therefore sustainable. “India doesn’t have to make the same mistakes the West did. It doesn’t have to go down that same development path. If cloth pads are so popular in the West, why shouldn’t we make an effort to make it popular in India also? It’s fine if we have to work on the pricing, production and availability. Just make the effort to bypass the problem and not go down that same path to realise the harms of disposable sanitary pads a little too late,” says Anju Bist, Co-director, Amrita SeRVe.
On the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, an event in the city saw the revival of an ancient tradition — using cloth pads during menstruation. Mata Amritanandamayi Math launched reusable pads made out of banana fiber called Saukhyam designed by Anju Bist, co-director, Amrita SeRVe (Self Reliant Village), also known as ‘Pad Woman’ of India, and Meera Krishnakutty, Amrita SeRVe. “Sanitary pads are made out of plastic. It is estimated that one pad is equivalent to four plastic bags, and will take 500-800 years to decompose. Burning these pads emits harmful dioxins and furans. On average, one woman spends at least `1,200 every year, around `70,000 over a lifetime", shared Anju Bist.
Saukhyam, an initiative of AmritaSeRVe, is a pad made of banana fibre which provides happiness and a sense of well-being to the user. "Banana fibre is a naturally occurring absorbent substance and has medicinal properties. Nobody has used banana fibres for reusable pads. Mata Amritanandamayi wanted us to do this. First, the stalk is cut. Then it is put in an extractor machine, where it is converted into thin strips. These have to be washed in baking soda, to make them soft. Thereafter, they are dried in the sun for five days. Then several women in the villages administered by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, make the pads. It provides a livelihood for them,” said Anju Bist, co-director Amrita SeRVe, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri.
Amrita SeRVe conducted a skill development certification ceremony for trainees, who successfully completed their training under Train The Trainer (TTT) programme held at Amrita Vidyalayam at Janla in the Capital city. The participants from West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh underwent the training under ‘Women Empowerment and Skill Development Programme’ which aims at providing assistance to selected villages for holistic development.
Keeping the factors like cost and environment in mind, Amrita Self-Reliant Village (SeRVe) came up with pads made of banana fiber. Amrita SeRVe turns waste banana stems, discarded by farmers, into a fiber, and sews it along with a cloth cover and base."Banana fiber is the main absorbing material in the napkin. It is good in three ways – health, environment, and cost,” says Anju Bist, Co-Director, Amrita SeRVe, who creates awareness on sustainable menstrual hygiene in schools and colleges. Reusable pads are needed, if for nothing else than to combat the waste management problem in cities.