Let’s talk about periods. We live in the year 2017, there’s no need to get awkward, get over it. To be honest, it is true, women do have a love/hate relation with their periods. Every month, the menstrual cycle brings in mood swings, pain, discomfort, fear of staining, but at the same time, also relief. After all, it is a sign that all is well with the body.
Did you know, an average woman uses 11,000- 17,000 sanitary napkins in her lifetime. And did you also know that most sanitary napkins are primarily made of plastics (about 90%). Plastic blocks airflow to the vagina, which can be a direct cause of cervical cancer, UTIs, yeast infections, rashes, allergies and painful periods. Most pads are bleached with chlorine, which leads to a toxic byproduct called dioxin. It is the reason why 8 out of 10 women complain of rashes, allergies, sensitive skin and general irritation during their periods.
This is exactly the reason why Deepanjali Damlia came up with the idea of natural and biodegradable sanitary napkins for women. “Roughly only 12% Indian women are able to afford sanitary napkins on their periods and even those 12% are unaware that these pads are composed of plastics, bleaches, polymers, perfumes, antibacterial agents and other toxins that can leave them susceptible to a host of problems harmful for their body”, Deepanjali explains, diving into the statistics. “Every year 9000 tonnes (432 million pads) of soiled sanitary waste is dumped in acres of landfills with no solution for decomposition, thereby, harming the environment endlessly. I saw this as a major issue and took on the challenge to find a better safer answer to this problem.”
Formerly a financial consultant, Dalmia has always been fascinated by the idea of finding sustainable solutions to everyday problems and help women overcome these problems through the means of innovation. With this philosophy in mind, the 25-year-old started Heyday – India’s first biodegradable and organic sanitary napkin made from natural plant-based fibres.
Heyday pads are a healthy and planet friendly alternative to plastic pads and are over times times as absorbent as cotton pads and equally soft, at about the same price. This one of a kind product prototype took over two years for Deepanjali to developed. “Creating a prototype with all natural elements was an exciting challenge. We did not use any synthetic raw materials and steered away from cotton too as it utilises 26% of the world’s pesticide content. We zeroed down on bamboo and corn fibre, used them to make seven super absorbent sheets to give an end product with a soft and smooth finish.”
Talking about fighting the stigma behind the ‘tabooed’ topic of menstruation, Deepanjali believes that in a society where this integral and natural process of a woman’s body is treated in a derogatory manner, it is important to keep the dialogue about menstruation open inorder to rise above these mental stigmas that the society has. It is indeed refreshing and indeed revolutionary that periods can be spoken about more freely, now more than ever before. Thanks to technology and social media platforms, it is now easy to express oneself and show support for something that you believe in.
Her vision for the women of India is to see them taking better care of themselves, “With an overload of responsibilities, we women often forget to care for ourselves. It is important to understand what is good for our bodies and make educated decisions everyday”, explains Deepanjali. “I hope we can influence as many women as possible with Heyday and really change the way they feel every month. After all, we have two homes: our bodies and the environment, and at Heyday we want to inspire women to take care of both.”