It has been six years since we started Saathi and this year the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) also turned six! The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action officially adopted by 193 countries, including India, to end poverty and to protect the planet. They include 17 interlinked global goals in an integrated design to be "A blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all people and the world by 2030". At Saathi, we resonate with many of these global goals as we aim to provide menstrual hygiene products that are good for the body, community, and environment.
Today is Saathi's birthday. We are so glad that we're stepping into the 7th year of this journey towards providing a sustainable menstrual experience to women, especially the underprivileged. We are continuing to create a positive impact in many women’s lives, including both our employees, our consumers, and Mother Earth, since we produce 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads. In case you’re wondering how we create a positive impact, check out our previous blog on how sanitary pads can impact global sustainability.
How India approaches the UN SDGs and how Saathi aids it:
The entire world wishes to hand this planet to future generations in a healthy state. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are framed such that achieving those goals is said to uplift the world in terms of its environmental and socio-economic status.
Along with the world, India is working towards these goals and is now in the 117th rank out of the 193 countries. Last year, in 2020, India was ranked 115th. This loss of two ranks is attributed to the pandemic and the lockdown which has brought back poverty & hunger thereby making a backward step in SDG 2 (zero hunger). Also, India has stepped back in SDG 5 (Gender Equality) due to shortage of overall employment opportunities in lockdown.
“Much of India’s development agenda is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable development of one-sixth of humanity will be of great consequence to the world and our beautiful planet”, quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Along with combating poverty, it also remains committed to protecting the environment. The responsibility for overseeing SDG implementation has been assigned to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
Some of the goals that we stand along with India are:
Winston Churchill quoted that "Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” But in India due to its huge population and poverty as a result, the health and hygiene measures are still inadequate.
The Indian government’s National Health Mission prioritises national well being and is leading change in this area. It has made progress by reducing the under-five mortality rate, which declined from 125 per 1,000 live births in 1990-91 to 50 per 1,000 live births in 2015-16.
Saathi works with a mission to produce sanitary pads that do not harm the body. Saathi pads do not use harsh chemicals like bleach that regular commercial pads use. As our absorbent layer is made using banana and bamboo fibers, we avoid the use of Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP), which put women's health at risk. We also ensure that our pads provide a rash-free period experience to all menstruators. Also, as our pads are compostable and biodegradable, they do not create pollution challenges like plastic pads that do not degrade and remain circulating in the environment and local community.
The Indian government is undertaking the following measures to bring more "Gender Equality"
- Beti Bachao Beti Padao (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child), to elevate the status of the girl child. Because we know that "To educate a woman is to educate an entire generation".
The literacy rate of women has increased from 55.1 between 2005 and 2006 to 68.4 between 2015 and 2016.
- The Maternity Benefit Programme, protects women from wage loss during the first six months after childbirth. The Maternity Benefit Bill provides 26 weeks’ paid leave to working women who are pregnant.
- The Women Empowerment Campaign, enabling digital literacy, gainful employment opportunities, providing comprehensive services at the village-level. The percentage of women having a personal bank account increased from 15.1%(2005-2006) to 53% in (2015-2016).
Despite these efforts, India's gender gap has widened to 62.5% in 2021.
At Saathi, we address gender equality by employing women from the community, which is a step towards women empowerment. With our chemical-free sanitary pads, we have given a rash-free period experience to a remarkable number of women, thereby working as a catalyst to reduce school dropouts and create workplace equality. With each pad, we have been able to reduce 25 gms of plastic waste and 25 gms of Co2 emission.
With every purchase made by urban women, the lives of rural women are uplifted. Each purchase subsidizes sanitary pads for women in rural communities.
The Government has introduced policy measures to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization.
Innovation and entrepreneurship is encouraged through initiatives like the Atal Innovation Mission and the Start-up India programme. Also, India's roadways are being developed as a part of this goal.
8,231 km of national highways have been constructed during 2016-17. Thus, 70% of rural habitations without road connectivity have been connected with all-weather roads.
In this regard, Saathi's infrastructure speaks for itself as it is a zero-waste production model. From sourcing the raw materials to packaging the products, the product is entirely biodegradable and waste is minimized. The residue from the raw materials is given back to the farmers to be used as natural manure or mulch. Each sanitary pad is packed in a plant based cover so you don’t need to worry!
"At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments" states IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The Indian Government is working on executing the Blue Revolution across the country. This includes strengthening marine research, developing an eco-friendly marine industrial and technology base & preservation and management of the marine ecosystem. India is also a part of the regional initiative ‘Mangroves for the Future’, coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
India is aware of the seriousness of the challenge posed by ocean pollution caused by plastics. One of the flagship initiatives of the government is the Clean India Movement.
The National Green Tribunal has recently banned the use of disposable single-use plastics.
The Sikkim government imposed the first plastic-bag ban in 1998. Following it, 22 states and union territories have imposed complete or partial bans on plastic carry bags.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)'s 2018-19 "Annual Report" says that 3,360,043 metric tonnes of plastic waste is generated per annum. Despite measures against plastic waste, India with its huge population is still struggling with plastics which end up polluting the life below water.
It is estimated that a pack of menstrual pads is equivalent to 4 plastic bags. These plastic sanitary pads not only affect the body, but also vandalize the marine ecosystem. Saathi sanitary pads degrade within 6 months, which is 1200 times faster than plastic sanitary pads which still ultimately break down into micro-plastics that are seeping into our food systems. With this approach, in the last 6 years, we have reduced tons of plastic waste from ending up in the ocean. Checkout our blog on Ocean Pollution.
Every living being on Earth consumes the resources available in nature, thereby creating carbon footprints. Besides individuals, industries that produce these products should also realise their responsibilities towards the environment. That will create a bigger and faster shift than just relying on conscientious individual acts. In India, only 19.9% of the urban waste is processed. It is the third highest emitter of carbon-dioxide and is responsible for 6.9% of global emissions. To combat this, India formally signed the historic Paris Agreement.
The National Policy on Biofuels and the National Clean Energy Fund are some of the Indian government’s flagship schemes aimed at achieving sustainable consumption and production, and managing the efficient use of natural resources.
At Saathi, we create biodegradable sanitary napkins, which do not pollute oceans or create plastic waste or harmful toxins.
We produce them from banana fiber which uses 6 times less water for production per ton than used for cotton cultivation.
We source it from local farmers, thereby increasing their income and also reducing their expenses for disposal and for fertilizers. As a responsible manufacturer we are trying to stop pollution at the source.
Human activities have put the world in the hands of rapid climate change. Our activities like constant emission of greenhouse gases are the major causes of climate change.
The Government of India has also adopted a National Action Plan on Climate Change to address this issue directly, as well as a National Mission for Green India.
At Saathi, with our zero-waste model, we have been able to reduce a considerable amount of CO2 in the last 6 years and will continue to do so with your support. Plastic period pads are either burnt or flushed away, polluting the air and the ocean with harmful toxins. As Saathi pads are biodegradable and compostable, they neither emit toxins nor do they pollute oceans.
This is a small step that we took 6 years ago to join the world's fight against climate change. About 90% of waste is burnt and not recycled that generates CO2 but Saathi pads decompose and reduce CO2 emissions.
As a whole, India has ambitious initiatives to do its part to achieve the UN SDGs. At Saathi, we have been committed to doing our part even as a small startup, we want to make sure our net impact is positive. We have achieved many goals in 6 years even during this pandemic and we aim to achieve 4 times more goals by 2030 with your support. We have just launched our brand new impact page where you can read more about how we are doing this!
With our #OneMillionPads initiative, we are aiming to accelerate impact by providing rural women access to body and environment friendly sanitary pads and menstrual hygiene education.
It takes 600-700 yrs to degrade 1 plastic sanitary pad: the 1st sanitary pad ever used still exists and is getting converted into micro-plastics which are even more hazardous as they are impossible to collect. Plastics have recently been found in placentas!
Saathi aims to reach 5000 rural women with eco friendly pads that are good for the body, community & environment🌏. It only takes Rs.1500 or $20 USD to provide biodegradable pads and menstrual hygiene workshops to 1 menstruator for 12 months. If you want to help accelerate our reach, please consider making your contribution to our Give India here or our GoFundMe here and spread the word to 5 more friends to join the cause! Our GoFundMe campaign closes on September 30th!
Each contribution ensures that more women will be given a healthy menstrual experience, more farmers will get additional income, and more CO2 emissions and plastic waste can be reduced. Each of your support means a lot. Have a look at our impact page for more information about how you can help.
Stay tuned and let's work towards creating a better world together.
We have many other surprises, as this is our birthday month. Follow us on our instagram page for the "Go Bananas" offers that are launching every week!
Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNDP GSIV, UNESCO Green Citizens project, Expo 2020 Dubai Global Innovators program, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
Check out a short video of our story here and follow us at @saathipads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube to learn about more facts and myth busters about sustainability, women’s health, and more!
It takes only 1500 INR or $20 to support 1 menstruator for 12 months.
If you can make a contribution to the #OneMillionPads initiative, check out these links:
GiveIndia _ For contributions from IndiaGoFundMe_ For contributions outside of India