Hygiene through waste

Every day, Ludhiana's textile industry sends loads of cotton and knitwear waste to the dumps. Now, some of it will go into making low-cost sanitary napkins for the poor. Punjab Agricultural University's College of Home Science has set up four machines at Ayali village near Ludhiana, where members of the village's Global Self-Help Group will manufacture and sell these napkins.

Dr Neelam Grewal, Dean, College of Home Sciences, says, "While Punjab is a progressive state, the state of women's health and hygiene, especially of the rural poor, calls for some attention. Besides, we have a huge population of migrant labourers coming to Punjab every year. Many of these women and young girls do not even have a clean cloth to use during their menstruation days, leave aside sanitary napkins."

"We've seen women use dirty, leftover pieces of cloth and even household ash packed in sheets of newspaper as napkins, which is a health hazard. With the government focusing on reproductive health, providing awareness to these women on personal care and hygiene is high on the agenda. With these target groups in mind, this project will work towards developing and selling low-cost sanitary napkins," says Grewal.

The project, launched by the Department of Science and Technology two years ago, is being set up at eight locations, including Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Two scientists from PAU and three from the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology work on the project as collaborators.

Harminder Kaur Saini, Associate Professor, Department of Clothing and Textile at PAU, says, "This project has been given to a self-help group and we will provide complete assistance to them for the next two years. For now, we have procured some 50 kg of cotton waste from the local industry and have broken it down to the fibre level. This fibre will be washed, dried and made into lap sheets. These lap sheets will then be cut into various sizes and then sealed within two sheets of polypropylene and polyethylene to form a napkin."

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