Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

To make menstrual hygiene more accessible and affordable to women in rural areas, Mata Amritanandamayi mutt is using banana fibre as an absorbent to prepare reusable sanitary pads under the ‘Soukhyam’ initiative. As per reports, these sanitary pads are cheaper than the conventional ones and are hygienic and environment-friendly. The reusable pads are expected to be produced in Odisha soon.

As per experts, the reusable pads prepared from banana fibre could be used for three to four years. As per the Managing Director of Soukhyam Reusable Pads, Anju Bist, who is also popularly known as the ‘Pad Woman’, the reusable pads, prepared from banana fibre are hygienic and environment-friendly.

“It takes hundreds of years for the cellular fibre, used in other disposable pads, to be dissolved in soil. Thousands of trees are also cut every year to make cellular fibre for preparing disposable pads. Moreover, the chemicals used in disposable pads have a very harmful impact on the body. However, the reusable pads prepared from banana fibre don’t have any harmful impact on the body. They are also not harmful to the environment,” said Bist.

“It’s not only hygienic but also better in many ways than disposable sanitary pads as it is safe for our body. The disposable pads have toxic chemicals in them which affect our health adversely. It’s very easy to clean and dry reusable napkins. If it is cleaned and dried properly then it’s very much hygienic,” she added.

“The disposable pads currently available in the market are not biodegradable in nature. We don’t give it proper treatment and throw it away after using just once. We have to think about an alternative product. In that context, a reusable pad is a better alternative. We can use it for two to three years,” said Sneha Mishra, Chairman of Odisha Menstrual Health and Hygiene Alliance.

Generally, a woman spends Rs 40 to Rs 100 to buy disposable pads every month. It means a woman has to spend around Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 to buy sanitary pads in her lifetime. However, the reusable sanitary napkins prepared from banana fibre by Soukhyam Reusable Pads are available at Rs 350 per set and they can be used for three to four years.

Meanwhile, questions have been raised over the negative impact of reusable pads on the body. However, health experts are of the opinion that banana fibre is used to prepare diapers for babies and tea bags and it is not harmful for the body.

“The disposable napkins can’t be used twice. Everybody can’t afford disposable napkins. In this context, reusable pads prepared from banana fibre are affordable and more comfortable,” said Shubhasmita Rath, a sportswoman.

“We use banana fibre to prepare diapers for babies and tea bags. It’s completely organic. It doesn’t contain any kind of toxins that is harmful to the body. If we can clean and dry it properly, it is as good as any undergarment for reuse,” said health expert, Dr Archana Sharma.