Published: 03rd December 2019
This student duo from a Kannur school has made menstrual pads from soybeans and they are just Rs 1.5 a piece
he students created the product after months of research and presenting the product across various institutions for approval
Two tenth standard students from Kerala, PV Nayana and Fathimathul Nafra have designed organic menstrual pads out of soybean. The students of Kadambur Higher Secondary School in Kannur, were inspired last year when they were able to participate in a school science exhibition held in Sasthamangalam, Thiruvananthapuram as part of a project. There, the topic at hand was skin disease. The two girls left the session determined to create something of their own and greatly impacted by all that they saw and how it was possible to create solutions with long-lasting impact.
Because of personal experience and the stories of people they knew, they decided that they wanted to create something that had to do with intimate hygiene. Nayana says, "We spent the next few months deep in thought and discussing endlessly with each other. We tried to find anything that had already been done in the area. Our teacher, Roshita A, their teacher us greatly by guiding us throughout the process."
HELP IS HERE: Sakhi is a biodegradable sanitary napkin
In July, they actually set about to create their own product. Their idea was to actually create a viable alternative. They began by experimenting with ordinary pads. The girls bought them in bulk to learn what they needed to improve upon. They cut open the popular ultra thin pads on the market and tried to understand how they absorb water. Inside, they could only find one sheet separating the thin layer on top and the chemical gels that were underneath.
Nayana says conclusively, "The most important thing that we learnt is that the use of those sanitary napkins are not a sustainable practice. We wanted to create a biodegradable product that contained absolutely no chemicals." Although they found themselves busy with regular classes in the following weeks, they made enough time to conduct a survey among women. As a result of this, they found that a large number of the respondents admitted to have had itchy skin and allergies because of the regular use of the pads.
WAIT ON: The students are currently awaiting for the product to be patented
It was in August that the idea of soybean struck them. Nayana says, "It absorbs naturally, is made up entirely out of fibre and soaks in liquid effortlessly. The pads are made up of soybean, cotton, butter paper and cotton cloth. After we actually put it all together, there was still a long way to go. In its initial form, the pads were extremely large and bulky. In that state, they were basically unusable,"
As they developed it, the prototype was tested out in SN college, Kannur and at a lab in Bengaluru where it passed all the relevant test and was deemed effective and sustainable. This year, they presented it at the School Science Fest to great acclaim from students and teachers alike. From their research, it has been found that the pads can be sold for Rs 3. But if produced for the markets, it could be sold for the cost of Rs 1.50. Currently, they have applied for a patent and is waiting to introduce it on the market with the name 'Sakhi' or friend.