Sanitree is a social enterprise based across Scotland and India. Not only are they making menstruation more sustainable by manufacturing and selling reusable pads, they are also providing employment for women in Jaipur, India, who make the pads. They also have an outreach programme helping girls in Rajasthan to stay in education by tackling stigma and providing free and subsidised products, as well as campaigning at home in Scotland.
Sanitree believe that menstruation could be an experience that is empowering for people and kind to the planet. Established five years ago, with teams in Edinburgh and Jaipur, it is staffed by student volunteers and currently has 18 volunteers from a range of degree courses.
Their solution to the environmental, economical and social problems surrounding periods is a sustainable period pad, made from materials which have a low carbon footprint and are locally sourced from independent suppliers who share their vision and values. Organic cotton for example is estimated to be grown using around 91% less water than non-organic cotton and is also chemical free which means it can biodegrade safely and efficiently.
They have produced over 10,000 pads so far, which has prevented more than 200,000 disposable plastic pads from ending up in landfill.
The pads are made by a team of seven beneficiaries in Jaipur who come from various vulnerable backgrounds, many of them widows, single mothers and domestic abuse survivors who are able to support their families through part-time flexible employment. Working at the Her Shakti Centre is often their first experience of employment giving them a space to share skills and support each other.
As part of their work, Sanitree also run education sessions for all genders on puberty and menstruation to end stigma and encourage discussion based on facts. So far, they have worked with 109 schools in Rajasthan, providing educational sessions to 5,000 students.
Sanitree sell their pads to conscious consumers on their Etsy store, but their main focus is to use their profits to fund donation drives through their NGO partners in India, ensuring those living in period poverty can access their products for free, whilst also helping NGOs to make a long lasting impact without undermining climate justice.
So far, they have improved period dignity in India by making donations of 4,500 pads to 1,500 people – but with 87 million women and girls in India living in poverty, they have ambitions to deliver much more.
A grant from The Matthew Good Foundation will help Sanitree to provide more free kits to students in Rajasthan. Each pack given out gives a person two years worth of period dignity, so the more packs we can help them deliver, the better.