Monday, March 7, 2011

Biodegradable sanitary napkin made from invasive plant helps solve lack of access to feminine hygiene products in Kenya

Posted by on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Students from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, who were on a class trip to Lake Victoria in Kenya, took note of the invasive species of water hyacinth that was choking the Kisumu shoreline. They set out to come up with a way to help rid the land of this unwanted weed while tackling the country's problem of a lack of feminine sanitary protection with one invention: the Jani biodegradable sanitary napkin.

Water hyacinth is a natural fiber that is sometimes seen used as a textile or in papermaking. The students came up with the idea of, instead of just ripping out the water hyacinth, using it to create a sanitary pad for the women of this developing country who normally do not have access to feminine protection.

Ecouterre writes:

What women in the first world take for granted doesn’t come as easily for developing countries. Roughly 870,000 girls in Kenya miss four days of school every month due to a lack of feminine protection and underwear. In the course of their research, Karin Lidman, Sophie Thornander, Marc Hoogendijk, Lars Marcus Vedeler, and Kristin Tobiassen uncovered the water hyacinth’s impressive absorbency. The scourge of Lake Victoria could be recast as easy-to-make, inexpensive, and biodegradable sanitary napkins to help girls receive the education they need to escape poverty.

The Jani (meaning "leaf" or "sheet") is made up of four layers of this water hyacinth paper, each layer being created differently to perform a different function: absorb, prevent leakage, etc. A piece of water-hyacinth paper with a sticker attached secures multiple pads. "This ?exible solution allows the customer to either buy a pack of 10 pads in one go, or just one or two at a time," says its creators. "The vendor can then easily tighten the wrapping around the remaining pads and reattach the sticker."

Let's hope this creation makes its way over to store shelves in the U.S. as well, to give us another option over those plastic-based feminine products.

Read more here at Ecouterre and on the Jani Pad site.

Information and photo via Ecouterre.

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