Media & Press

Eco Femme in the media

A compilation of news articles that have featured Eco Femme over the years.

Eco Femme: opening up the conversation of menstruation (through reusable cloth pads)

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Duurzamestudent.nl, 21 March 2017

After I bought a menstrual cup, I became passionate about the topic of menstruation. I realised how rarely people talk about it; instead of appreciating our body and its cycles we hide it. By writing blogs about several products, I want to open up the conversation and show what wonderful products are available on the market.[1] As I came across Kathy and Jessamijn who started Eco Femme here in Auroville (India), I realized how little I knew about washable cloth pads.
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8 Simple Ways To Provide Free Menstrual Products To Girls And Women In Need (Updated)

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Social Good Moms, 20 March 2017

Every 28 days, millions of girls and women in developing countries miss school or work – up to 50 days per year – because they lack access to affordable menstrual products. And, it’s not just a problem in poor countries. Right here in the United States, women and girls who lack means often need both menstrual health education and reusable menstrual products.

Here are ways you can help them on their missions to provide women and girls with products that simply make their lives easier.There are many businesses and organizations out there doing great menstrual health work. As we discover more of them we’ll add them below because many give back to various regions of the world.
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Tribal girl students promote eco-friendly cloth pads

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Times of India, 5 March 2017

VISAKHAPATNAM: Girl students from the tribal villages in Araku are not aware of Women’s Day. But as women, they too want to make a difference and do their bit for the environment. And how? These students are promoting the use of eco-friendly reusable cloth pads instead of the usual sanitary napkins to reduce the number of sanitary pads going into garbage landfill by February 2018. The students also plan to educate their urban counterparts when they visit Araku about the importance of using these reusable pads.  Called Pad4Pad programme, the cloth kit can be used for almost two years. Donated free of cost by Auroville in Puducherry, each kit of ‘Ecofemme’ consists of four reusable cloth pads in a special bag.
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Raising Awareness of Menstruation and Sustainability in India

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Girls’ Globe, 2 March 2017

During a visit to Auroville, India a couple of days ago I was happy to have the opportunity to chat briefly with Eco Femme co-founder Kathy Walkling in between customers at their busy stall at the market. I had already heard about Eco Femme before I came to India and I was exited to meet the people behind it in real life. I wanted to get to know more about their important work on raising awareness of menstrual hygiene and sustainability among rural women in the state of Tamil Nadu.
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A revolution in the world of sanitation, period!

1436267590_Ecofemme0245The New Indian Express, 7 Nov 2016

CHENNAI: Menstruation and hygiene have been issues that women have been concerned about for ages. While the market is filled with disposable sanitary napkins (gel-based pads), environmental activists claim that a single disposable pad can take 500-800 years to decompose. If you’re one of those people who wants to create a sustainable environment, but haven’t been able to think of an alternative, here’s your blessing – cloth pads by Eco Femme!
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BRAND SPOTLIGHT: ECO FEMME

1436267590_Ecofemme0245The Bloody Truth blog, 3 Oct 2016

One of the most shocking statistics I’ve come across when researching for this campaign is that 88% of girls in India use unsafe methods to manage their periods. The most common method is reusable old cloth, but women also resort to ashes, newspaper, dried leaves and husk to try and deal with menstruation. It’s so hard to even imagine how difficult something like that would be to deal with, combined with the immense stigma present regarding menstruation , which we have covered a little on the blog. That’s where a brand like Eco Femme comes in.
Read More…

 

Going Green While You Bleed

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Goli Soda blog, 10 Sept 2016

While explaining how the compost pot works at our store. I convince many people on the importance of segregation. The majority 60 percent of our waste at home can be composted and the remaining plastic and paper waste can be sent for recycling. There is a sense of achievement when we feel that we have contributed very little to the landfill. But what about used sanitary pads or diapers? Where do they go?

Once a month even the most eco sensitive, khambha-using, plastic recycling women, contribute at least 6-8 (mostly gel-based) disposable sanitary pads to the land fill. A single sanitary pad takes close to 500-800 years to decompose. Worse still, maybe your favorite street dog that you feed biscuits to everyday might be biting into a disposed pad or a rag picker that you notice everyday down your street might be handling it with his bare hands.
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Eco Femme – A Women’s Initiative to Save the Planet

1436267590_Ecofemme0245Prutha, July 2016

For ages the guilt of adding to Goa’s garbage problem was gnawing at my conscience. I was segregating the other waste, but when it came to soiled menstrual pads, I was at a loss for a solution. Somebody suggested incinerating them; however, this would only contribute to air pollution. Finally I chanced on a Facebook post by a friend about Eco Femme cloth pads. My curiosity piqued, I followed the link to find the answer to my dilemma.

Eco Femme came into being in 2010 at Auroville, Tamil Nadu, through the co-operation of Kathy Walkling of Australia and Jessamijn Miedema of Netherlands. The two women were single-minded in their motivation to empower women and work towards reducing the amount of sanitary waste that is ecologically a serious threat and aesthetically an eyesore in India. The Auroville Village Action Group, an NGO which functions as a women’s self-help group, provided the woman power needed to tailor Eco Femme products.
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Eco Femme: The Relationship Between Menstrual Health And The Environment In India

1436267590_Ecofemme0245The IPF, 6 July 2016

Ladies, perhaps you have wondered what happens to the non-biodegradable menstrual products we use every month. Many of us might have had an inkling that it isn’t good for the environment. Despite this, we continue to use the products, believing that there isn’t another way, or, in some cases, knowing that there are alternatives but being too afraid to try them.

Eco Femme, located in Auroville, South India is a growing social enterprise that designs and stitches washable cotton pads, sells menstrual silicone cups, and conducts menstrual educational seminars for women, children and societies across rural India. They provide a livelihood for 10 rural women in Auroville, who stitch the Eco Femme cotton pads.

The IPF spoke to Laura O’Connell, Eco Femme’s Communications Officer, who told us about the various projects Eco Femme has been a part of since its establishment in 2010.
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Sanitary Solutions & Waste Disposal

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Clean India Journal, 18 April 2016

The disposal of sanitary napkins, though more a health and hygiene issue, gets complicated when the waste is thrown away polluting the environment with its non-biodegradable content and inorganic components. However, eco-friendly pads and incineration could address some predominant problems. Vijayalakshmi Sridhar talks to hygiene advocates on alternatives and awareness of sanitary hygiene and waste disposal.

Sanitary napkin disposal is a worldwide problem. The impact is more pronounced in India because of the unorganized ways of municipal solid waste management and poor community collection, disposal and transportation networks in the cities and villages.

With an estimated potential of 9000 tonnes of sanitary waste (of 432 million pads) getting generated annually and more than 80% of this waste either getting flushed down the toilet or getting dumped in the landfill, India is facing a serious problem.
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Blood Money: The Race to Crack India’s Lucrative Menstruation Market

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Broadly-Vice, March 2016

The vast majority of women in India don’t use sanitary products, instead relying on everything from cow dung and newspapers when it comes to that time of the month. But local entrepreneurs are determined to change that with reusable pads, menstrual cups, and pad-producing machines.

Every evening after work, 27-year-old Paravi* prepares for her upcoming wedding. She reads bridal magazines and hones her cooking, while her aunties regale her with funny tales of married life.

But as night falls, and she’s left alone with her thoughts, Paravi’s enthusiasm turns to anxiety. Because Paravi hides a dark and terrible secret—one so shameful it keeps her up at night and stops her from leaving the house.

Paravi, you see, menstruates.
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Auroville shows the way for SHGs

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The Hindu, Oct 2015

While women self-help groups in Tamil Nadu have been engaged in the production of low-cost sanitary napkins for some time now, a new proposal looks to rope in expertise from Auroville to get SHGs to produce an eco-positive and healthy alternative.

At the forefront of this effort is the Sustainable Livelihood Institute (SLI) at Auroville, a joint initiative of the Tamil Nadu Rural Livelihood Mission and Auroville Foundation, which was set up in March this year.

SLI trains SHGs, especially women groups, in a variety of areas, including business, skill development, and marketing. Eco Femme (a social enterprise under the Auroville Village Action Trust of which the SLI is a part) at Auroville produces cloth washable pads, which are biodegradable, last longer than conventional disposable pads available in the market, and are healthy to use. Read More…

Ecofemme

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Women at Work, Aug 2015

In a country where 87% of women are completely unaware about menstruation nor have any knowledge about its purpose and 75% of girls do not know about the material to use to absorb the flow (Unicef MHM) you might be tempted to believe that standard sanitary pads are an end to all menstruation problems. But what if they were just the beginning? “The main reason for using disposable sanitary pads is that we value convenience over environmental, health, and economic value. It could also be the disgust a woman feels at the idea of washing menstrual blood out of the pads” says Kathy Walkling of Eco Femme cloth pads. Her journey as a cloth pad entrepreneur began with her own quest to dispose off the use and throw pads in an eco-friendly and inoffensive manner. Read More…

Feminine Hygiene Goes Bloody Clean

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Pure&Eco India, July – Sept 2015

Eco Femme plans to amplify its international sales base, as well as, launch an organic cotton range of washable cloth pads and baby diapers for India and abroad.

Eco Femme aims to provide women of the world with a healthier, more sustainable salternative to using plastic-made sanitary pads. It’s conception took place when Australian native Kathy Walkling and Jessamijn Miedema of The Netherlands met in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, in 2010, where both women worked at a local NGO (Auroville Village Action Group or AVAG) for the socio-economic upliftment of rural women. Read More…

Empowerment through Feminine Hygiene

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Moneylife, 10 July 2015

Eco Femme gets women to switch from disposable to washable or eco-friendly products, helping underprivileged women get access to cloth-pads

Eco Femme is the effort of a small team of volunteers who live and work at Auroville, the international community in Puducherry, to start rural social enterprises that empower marginalised Indian women and connect women globally. In 2010, the founding team, comprising Kathy Walkling, Jessamijn Miedema, Anita Budhraja and Anbu Sironmani, was motivated help the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), an NGO in Villipuram district (Tamil Nadu). Read More…

World Environment Day: 15 Indian Businesses That Deserve Your Custom For Promoting Sustainability

qzHuffington Post India, 5 June 2015

In the words of a famous muppet, it ain’t easy being green. Walk into a local department store and one’s likely to be surrounded by products that prioritise disposability and convenience over the environment.

An informed and conscientious customer must read the fine print in every product label to analyse the lifecycle of a product, how it affects the user and the environment. To make your buying decisions easier, we reached out to sustainability enthusiasts who gave us their personal recommendations of entities–businesses and non-profits–that are environment conscious. These are brands that make eco-friendliness a core part of their product offering. From organic clothing to composting kits, this roundup looks at entities that can help you make better choices. Read More…

The rad pad

qzThe Times of India, 31 May 2015

Bangalore-based Megha Kumar and Mumbaikar Hamsa Iyer no longer buy TV’s sanitary pad pitch. When the flood comes, the 35-year-old Kumar, a French teacher, pulls out a box of washable cloth pads, and Iyer, a 25-year-old researcher, reaches for her menstrual cup – a small bell-shaped silicone object that collects the discharge. Iyer proudly says she hasn’t generated menstrual waste in two years.
Green alternatives are becoming the solution of choice for modern women who, alert to the damaging effects of synthetic pads are swearing off them, both for the sake of the planet and themselves. Read More…

月事這東西,真的不好提嗎?

qzAM730, 12 March 2015

關於衛生棉的兩三事……
月事和衛生棉之類的東西,即使到了這個年代,還不知為何仍像明朝「文字獄」般,少提為妙,更遑論要堂堂大男人走去買,甚至在大庭廣眾下為你付款,他們總保守地覺得「唔老利」!但這些被世俗認為「唔老利」的事,卻是女生一輩子的大事,試問有誰不是從子宮裡走到這個世界?
假設女生在月事期間,一天更換5片即棄衛生棉,一次周期就大約用了35片,1年420片,5年就已經用了2,100片!在30多年「大姨媽」的日子裡,每位女生就棄置了一萬多片的即棄衛生棉!如此「血腥」的垃圾問題,再加上平常日子使用的護墊,製造的垃圾量更是驚人。單是美國和加拿大,每年就有超過450億片衛生棉被棄置,而衛生棉的膠,是需要至少500年才能被分解,累計的垃圾問題,光是想想也覺得恐怖. Read More…

Sustainable Menstruation

qzHuffington Post India, 5 March 2015

In the last year I have slowly changed from using brand-name products for cleaning my house, clothes, and myself to naturally and locally made Indian products and I couldn’t be more impressed. From soapnuts for washing my clothes and dishes to neem leaves to guard my clothes from moths, I’ve found that most traditional methods of caring for oneself and one’s home are superior to those I’ve grown accustomed to in the West.

More recently, I made a switch from using tampons to reusable cloth menstrual pads. I’ll be honest: tampons are absolutely more convenient and in many situations more comfortable. However, what I’ve learned over the past year about the damage that sanitary waste does to our environment was enough for me to withstand whatever minor inconvenience I may have each month. Read More…

Indian women hear some crazy things about their periods

qzUSA Today – Global Post, 10 January 2015

These are just some of the beliefs that millions of Indian girls grapple with when it comes to their menstrual cycles — a problem fueling both unsanitary conditions and social setbacks for women here.

More than 300 million women and girls don’t have access to the hygiene products they need because of taboos and a lack of resources, according to a report by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, a United Nations partner. And 10% of girls believe menstruation is a disease. But a surge of recent initiatives across the country is looking to put an end to that burden through innovative books, classes and more sanitary products. From a man who tried out sanitary pads himself to women who share their own most embarrassing stories, they’ve reached thousands of girls and women, and their communities, in the process. Read More…

Why are we pretending that there isn’t a growing mountain of menstrual waste we need to deal with?

qzYahoo News India, 9 January 2015

And no, burning them is not the best idea ever. A month ago, a soiled sanitary napkin left in a Kochi factory bathroom set in motion a chain of events that few could have foreseen. Over 40 women employees of the factory were strip-searched by two female supervisors to find out who the ‘culprit’ was. And when the factory manager refused to take action against the supervisors, a group decided to protest by mailing sanitary napkins (used or unused) to the factory, as part of a campaign titled ‘Red Alert: You’ve Got a Napkin’. Read More…

Eco-Entrepreneurs Promise Women A Safe Period

qzThe Rising Nepal, January 2015

Period. While the English dictionary gives several meanings for this rather ordinary word, millions of women around the world associate it with discomfort, pain and embarrassing memories. For hundreds of thousands of girls across India, menstruation means five days of solitary confinement; it’s the one reason behind many being forced to drop out of school and also being subjected to discriminatory social practices. Caught between superstition, ignorance and poverty they end up using anything from straw, ash and tree bark to even cow dung and dirty rags to absorb the flow. Consequently, stories about disease and death are legion. Free from taboos

But this is not a story that enumerates the trials that women face during “those difficult days of the month”; it’s about a bunch of people who are using innovation and entrepreneurial skills to make their lives easier and free from the crippling burden of taboos. Kathy Walkling is the brains behind Eco Femme, an Auroville, Puducherry-based all-woman group that produces and exports cloth sanitary napkins by the same name to 14 countries in the world. An entrepreneur by accident, she has been working for more than a decade now towards promoting “menstrual practices that are healthy, dignified, affordable and eco-positive”. Read More…

Eco Femme – Cut from a different cloth

qzLive Mint, 20 October 2014

This Auroville-based company makes reusable sanitary napkins from cloth which are both environment-friendly and cheaper.

Kathy Walkling arrived in Auroville, a self-contained green community on the outskirts of Puducherry, 18 years ago, and found that women who used sanitary napkins would dig a hole and bury them after use. She thought this was unhygienic and bad for the environment. Then, more than a decade ago, she came across a reusable cloth pad.

“While I initially felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of washing a blood-soaked pad, I soon discovered that washing took almost no time at all. It was comfortable to wear and I was not adding waste to an already choking planet. I also saved money as that first pad lasted seven years,” says Walkling. Read More…

Three grassroots projects that Modi’s Clean India campaign can learn from

qzQuartz India, 9 October 2014

Narendra Modi has reached out far and wide to get his Clean India campaign off the ground. From industrialist Anil Ambani to former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, the prime minister has called out to prominent Indians—on social media and elsewhere—to galvanize support for the mission, which aims to spruce up India within five years.

Even Modi’s cabinet ministers have taken to sweeping the streets lately, making for perfect photo ops. But the much harder work of actually cleaning India is more than just wielding a broom.

Here are three projects—with critical grassroots involvement—that have interesting solutions to India’s massive cleanliness problem. Read More…

The Hidden Danger Behind Sanitary Napkins

ATAval Thozhi Magazine, September 2014

This article is written in Tamil and only available in pdf format – please click the link to Read More…

 

 

Sustainable Menstruation?

Clothcycle 23.9.14Business & Community Brief Newsletter (page 10-11), September 2014

Dans la region d’Auroville, 79% des femmes s’estiment mal informees sur les questions d’hygiene menstruelle et 95% associent ce moment a une impurete. A la croisee d’un travail local d’ONG et d’une initiative de commerce ecologique, Kathy Walkling et Eco Femme font desormais travailler des tisseuses rurales pour confectionner des serviettes hygieniques recyclables, qu’elles vendant tant a l’international que tres localement…et qui leur permettent de briser tabous et inconfort chez toutes les femmes, meme les moins informees. Read More…

 

Welcome to Australia Eco Femme!

Clothcycle 23.9.14Clothcycle Blog, 23 September 2014

Eco Femme is a women’s empowerment project which has risen from rural India and is reaching the world via the Auroville Village Action Group and the Gift a Pad Program. Kathy Walking is the Co-Founder of Ecofemme-org which formed in 2009.

Kathy discovered cloth pads while visiting family in Australia. She found them more comfortable to wear and also this was so much easier than having to find a place to bury disposable pads.

The use of disposable hygiene products is a considerable waste management issue. Provision of access to appropriate and affordable sanitary hygiene products is at the forefront of Eco Femme’s work. Eco Femme is determined to counter the current trend towards disposable use in India. Currently 12% of the menstruating population in India uses disposable products. This percentage is likely to grow as multi-nationals recognize India as the largest growing market for these products and are marketing them across the country as the modern convenient solution. Read More…

Revitalizing menstrual hygiene sustainably

Responsible Business India 11.9.14Responsible Business India, 11 September 2014

Eco Femme is a global women’s empowerment initiative. They promote and revitalize menstrual practices that are healthy, dignified, affordable and eco positive. Eco Femme was founded by Kathy Walkling, Jessamijn Miedema, Anita Budhraja, and Anbu Sironmani at Auroville in 2010. Kathy Walking, co founder, pens down the journey of Eco Femme.
The Initial Days:
In 2010, the founding Eco Femme team, Kathy Walkling, Jessamijn Miedema, Anita Budhraja, and Anbu Sironmani, was motivated to help the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), an NGO in Villipuram District, Tamil Nadu, transition from being a donor-funded organization to a self-sustaining one. The team hoped to find a way to simultaneously create livelihood opportunities for women members of AVAG’s self-help groups and to financially support AVAG’s work with rural individuals and communities. Members of the team were familiar with the concept of washable cloth pads, a form of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) popular among eco-conscious women and a traditional form of MHM around the world. Read More…

Ecofemme, des serviettes hygiéniques lavables, sociales et écologiques!

Youphil 22.8.14Incubating Change Sense Tour featured on Youphil, 22 August 2014

La menstruation des femmes est un sujet tabou en Inde et particulièrement dans les régions rurales où les règles sont associées à l’impureté et la saleté : dans certains cas, les femmes doivent dormir dehors, ne sont pas autorisées à toucher de la nourriture qui sera consommée par d’autres, ne peuvent pas non plus s’occuper des animaux de la ferme … Chaque mois, ces femmes doivent subir ces discriminations, vivent dans ces conditions plus que difficiles et se sentent honteuses en raison de ce phénomène tout à fait naturel! Read More…

Girls must have their say

The Hindu 3.8.14The Hindu, 03 August 2014

Personal hygiene. Health risks. Choking rivers. The connecting factor — menstruation — is a social concern, says Usha Rai.

A small group of NGOs working on health issues and calling themselves Bejhijhak (which means ‘without hesitation’ or inhibitions) got together in the Capital recently for starting a dialogue on menstruation, breaking the various myths and taboos around the issue and improving menstrual education, management and hygiene. School children set the mood for the discussions by performing street plays on those unspeakable five days.

Menstrual Hygiene Day seeks to break the culture of silence and ignorance that plagues 335 million menstruating women and girls in India — 113 million of them adolescents. Seventy per cent of mothers consider menses dirty and polluting and pass on their biases to their children. Menstruating women and girls are still not allowed into kitchens, puja rooms and temples, nor are they allowed to touch utensils. Read More…

The big green switch

kathy new indian express photoKrya Blog, 25 July 2014

Our series of posts on sustainable menstruation have covered 3 kinds of areas: We’ve presented facts about how disposable driven menstruation is un-sustainable, and given you charts, facts and blog articles.

But an interesting opportunity came my way when I spoke to Sruti Hari. Sruti is one half of the creative team that runs Ashvita – an art gallery, a series of cafes and retail stores focusing on all kinds of interesting products.

Sruti’s interest for the environment meant that Goli Soda was inevitable. It is Chennai’s first (and perhaps one of the few stores in India) to focus on upcycled and environmentally sustainable goods. Goli Soda’s products are carefully curated to offer you quirky colourful ways to lead a more sustainable life – from coasters made of loofahs, to upcycled wallets, poo paper products, organic clothing and of course Krya’s products.

We catch up with Sruti to chat about Goli Soda, her experience with cloth napkins and why she recommends and sells reusable menstrual products at her store. Read More…

Walking the talk – a conversation with Eco Femme

kathy new indian express photoKrya Blog, 15 July 2014

I first experienced reusable sanitary napkins in 2012. We were new parents keen on raising a green, sustainable baby. Somewhere in the middle of the night when I was flushing poop out of a reusable cloth diaper and congratulating myself on the disposable diaper I had just saved, I asked myself why I could not make the shift myself to reusable cloth pads.It certainly had to be easier to adopt compared to a cloth diaper, I figured.

My searches online led me Kathy Walking and Eco femme. After several email exchanges to allay my concerns, I bought myself a few of Eco Femme’s pads. When I tried them out the first time, I could not believe how good they felt compared to a disposable pad. Like most disposable users, I did not know things could actually get better and was mentally conditioned to accept discomfort as a part of menstruation. Read More…

Cloth Pads: Propagating Good Menstrual Traditions

kathy new indian express photoMenstrupedia Blog, 11 July 2014

We often associate tradition with things that are out of fashion. Often, in that long list of things we tag useless or meaningless, we lose sight of logical and thoughtful ways of living. If we look around us, we see that there are piles of garbage on every street – heaps of filth and dirt, several people defecating out in the open.

At some point of time or the other, we all have asked ourselves this question – do we not have any civic sense left? Do we not understand how to live in a clean society? At some level, we know that the answer is a thought-provoking NO. But to those of you who have wondered what you can do about it, here’s my experiment (and suggestion) on a logical and thoughtful way of living. Read More…

Breaking myths and taboos

kathy new indian express photoThe Hindu, 29 May 2014

Half of the world menstruates – at some point of time. Yet nobody talks about it.

Menstruation and menstrual hygiene are issues that concern women all over the world; yet the subject is almost always relegated to whispers. This is something which the first ever World Menstrual Hygiene Day, observed worldwide on Wednesday, hopes to change.

In Auroville, Eco Femme, an organisation that makes reusable sanitary pads, partnering with WASH United, a non-profit organisation, celebrated the occasion at the Visitor’s Centre. Women from villages around Auroville, Aurovilians and visitors who dropped in at the centre were encouraged to participate in an informal session on making hand-stitched cloth pads. Read More…

8 Low Cost And Eco Friendly Ideas Which Have Revolutionized Women’s Sanitary Hygiene In India

kathy new indian express photoThe Better India, 28 May 2014

Menstruation is one thing which almost every woman has to deal with. Every month.

Many Indian women still use scrap cloth from old saris and towels, the traditional method for managing menstruation for thousands of years.

On average, a single woman generates 125kg of sanitary waste during her menstruating years when she uses disposable sanitary products. This is avoidable waste.

It is a natural process and yet people, even women, hesitate to talk about it. To break the taboo, a coalition of international and national organisations will observe the first-ever Menstrual Hygiene Day today (May 28). So cheers to a good start and here is a list of 8 brands that offer you cheap, affordable, hygienic and eco friendly pads. Read More…

Think Cloth, Think Clean

kathy new indian express photoNew Indian Express Express, 15 December 2013

You may brush off Kathy Walkling’s suggestion of using a cloth pad instantly. But if you give it some thought, you will realise that she does have a point. And a good one too.

It takes over 500 years for a single disposable sanitary pad to decompose. And how many does a woman use in a month and in a year? Do the math.

Disposal sanitary napkins pose a huge waste management problem in an over-populated country like India which has inadequate waste disposal mechanisms. “Have you ever wondered about the impact of all those throwaway sanitary pads on the ecosystem?” asks Kathy, a Pondicherry resident, who founded Eco Femme in 2009 as an alternative. Read More…

 

Eco Femme – a Cloth Pad for True Empowerment

basic tailoring

Menstrupedia, 19 October 2013

Every year, over 45 billion pads are dumped in landfills, only in the United States and Canada (we don’t have India numbers, but it is safe to assume they are similar). The plastic in a pad takes 500 years to degrade (as opposed to biodegradable, which doesn’t!) By using plastic laden feminine hygiene products, each year we add the equivalent of 180 billion plastic bags to our waste stream. On the other hand, menstruation is not cool. The taboo associated with monthly periods in India causes the greatest harm to the health, livelihood and dignity of women. Horror stories still abound of women using all kinds of unsanitary materials – from ash to husk, mud, dried leaves, even sharing cloth pads – in the villages, and health infections that arise due to this. Read More…

(Shreya Pareek’s article above was originally featured in The Alternative, 27 June 2013: ‘Social Enterprise Showcase: Eco femme – a cloth pad for true empowerment’ )

世界のどこかで誰かが布ナプキンを買うと、インドの少女が笑顔になる – EcoFemme’s Pad for Pad

ecofemme_mainGreenz.jp, 25 September 2013

生理用布ナプキンを知っていますか?蒸れにくくて使い心地は快適そのもの、下着と同じように洗って繰り返し数年は使えるのでゴミも出ないし、生理の日の憂鬱を吹き飛ばしてくれそうな楽しいデザインのものもたくさん。さらに、布ナプキンを買うことで、インドの少女たちの生活を快適にすることができるとしたら?

Eco Femme(エコ・ファム)」の布ナプキンは、インド南部の環境実験都市・Auroville(オーロヴィル)でつくられています。エコ・ファムは、女性であることに喜びを感じ、体をいたわりながら、経済的でエコ・ポジティブな月経環境を整えていくためのエンパワーメントプロジェクトとして2009年、農村支援のNGOである「Auroville Village Action Group(以下AVAG)」のメンバーによって立ち上げられました。Read More…

 

Eco Femme Cloth Pad Review

21.product range

Menstrual Cups Diary, 21 September 2013

One of the first brands of cloth pads that really caught my eyes is Eco Femme.
I’ve always loved that sort of exotic Indian fabrics that remind me those seventies hippie style boho tunics, kaftans and fair trade Indian bags, well the Eco Femme pads are made of beautiful Indian fabrics and soon as I saw them on-line I liked them straight away.

Another reason why I was eager to try them out is because of the project behind the product itself. Eco Femme is a global women’s empowerment project promoting healthier, dignified and eco-friendly menstrual practices, it was created in 2009 in Auroville. Read More…

 

Every woman’s guide to eco friendly menstrual products

Kathy - cropped The Alternative, 03 August 2013

My last article, Menstrual Cups: time to reduce that monthly plastic? on eco-friendly menstruation options received a tremendous response, not only from ladies, but also from several guys who told me that they referred the article to their sisters and wives. Even today I receive frequent emails asking me questions about menstrual cups and pad. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of people towards such options.

This article attempts to answer many frequently asked questions related to eco-friendly menstruation options. Menstrual cups and cloth pads are the two major options that are available in the Indian market; hence I will discuss both of them here in detail. This will also help in answering the general queries that I have received from many of the readers. Read More…

Being earth wise

Kathy - cropped The New Indian Express, 08 June 2013

When she heard about Auroville from a friend, Kathy Walkling was intrigued and decided that she had to see it for herself. The then occupational therapist in Australia, moved to Pondicherry in 1997 with no idea of what she would do here. “I was open to doing anything,” she begins. Walkling worked in administration and education before spend-ing time at a small village where her interest in women’s development grew. In 2009, she co-founded Eco Femme, a women’s empowerment project that promotes healthy and eco positive menstrual practices among rural women. “It started with an idea and research. We interviewed 300 women and girls,” says Walkling, who has trained 15 women and has been producing cloth (brushed flannel cotton) sanitary pads for a little over a year now. However, Walkling has been making cloth pads herself for almost 12 years, and they are taken across the globe by women from various walks of life, who buy them from Auroville. “Women like using them because they save money in the long run and are also colourful when compared to the clini-cal looking disposable pads,” she shares. Read More…

 

Bringing Rural Sanitary Revolution In India

innovateus_june_2013_thumbnail InnovateUs Magazine, June 2013

Kathy Walking was long obsessed by a basic yet vital question; just how hygienic is the practice of using sanitary napkins that has to be discarded so often? Without much ado it could be clearly stated that such practices are not quintessentially eco positive in nature and could result into environmental pollution. Another very visible disadvantage being the fact that impoverished womenfolk of rural India could not afford to spend so much money for sanitary pads. With nearly 300 million menstruating women in India it might be a lucrative opportunity for sanitary pad manufacturers and sellers but not for the women at or below poverty level. Read More…

Eco Femme’s products address concerns raised over throw away sanitary pads

may23-13-kathy The Weekend Leader, 25 May 2013

Kathy Walkling, an ardent advocate and maker of washable cloth pads, gives you the statistics first to make you understand the gravity of the problem she is trying to address.

An average woman uses 10 sanitary pads a month during her menstruating years. In a span of about 35-40 menstrual years, she accumulates about 125 kilos of soiled pads.

In India, there are about 355 million women of reproductive age. If all of them start using pads, they would be throwing away a mind-boggling 58500 million used pads in a year. Read More…

Women’s Empowerment in India

orgasmic discourses logo Orgasmic Discourses Blog, 12 April 2013

For all the little and big changemakers in the world, this is a post for you. There is a huge movement happening since years around women’s empowerment in India. I’ve been wanting to share one example of this women’s movement with you since I started my Blog, and now is a great time to do it. Since 2009 I have been involved with a project called Eco Femme, working under the umbrella of a non-profit organization called Auroville Village Action Group. Read More…

SRM University Award

Eco Femme receives SRM Pacesetter Award. Times of India, 10 March 2013

Eco Femme received an award for “genuinely creating a transforming impact on the lives of Indian women”!

SRM University, Kattakulathur, presented Women Pacesetter Awards to Kathy Walkling of Eco Femme, pilot Bavicca Bharathi, and Kausalya for her work among HIV-positive women. Prema, nurse at SRM General Hospital, was presented the Florence Nightingale Award at the 2-day Global Conference on Women Leadership. View Times of India mention…

 

Solution to a ‘Natural Problem’?

Auroville Radio, 03 November 2012

With 350,000,000 menstruating women in India: what are we going to do with the waste from the newly-introduced, “modern” menstruation products? Yes, 350 million is a big number. With keen foresight, Kathy has stepped up to the plate with a team of women to try to close the bin on this massive upcoming waste production. Auroville Radio sat down with Kathy on a busy Saturday morning in Cafe Le Morgan to discuss these very current social issues and talk about opportunities for the future. Listen to the Interview…

Eco Femme: Washable Sanitary Napkins – An Old Idea in a New Form

Eternal Bhoomi Magazine, October 2012

When I moved to India to live in Auroville 15 years ago, one of the first things that I found myself having to contend with was how to dispose of my sanitary waste. In the west, there is at least the appearance that these products go “away” when tossed into a bin; but in India it was obvious that this was an illusion. I felt like a fugutive lurking around in the dark, looking for a place where I could dig a hole – usually in baked earth – to bury used pads. Throwing them in a bin for others to handle or burning them with their plastic liners was even more unthinkable! How DO local women here manage, I wondered? Read More…

Not just a piece of cloth

The Hindu, 19 October 2012

In June 2010, the Centre approved an unprecedented scheme to promote menstrual health by distributing subsidised sanitary pads among adolescent girls. Priced at Rs.1 each, the pads were targeted at 15 million girls between the years of 10 and 19, and across 152 districts in 20 States. It also decided to supply sanitary napkins to 200 million rural women in the age group 20 to 45, providing each with an annual stock of 100 napkins… But there is another dimension to napkins that rarely comes up in a debate — that is the environmental havoc that sanitary products cause. The distribution of millions of disposable pads can only add to the burden of India’s badly managed waste disposal system… Earlier this year, Eco Femme, AVAG’s outreach to rural women in Tamil Nadu, began a pilot project to distribute reusable sanitary pads designed by it among 1,200 women across the State. Read More…

Menstrual Cups: time to reduce that monthly plastic?

The Alternative, 17 October 2012

We don’t have statistics from India, but one can safely assume that the phenomenon is similar everywhere. An average North American uses 16,800 disposable pads/tampons during a lifetime. Every year, in Britain alone, a staggering 1b sanitary towels get disposed of and end up in landfills. I have a habit of lecturing kirana store folks on the perils of plastic, whenever they offer me a (disposable) plastic bag, which I turn down… In my mind, menstrual cups are an eco-friendly and healthy alternative worth exploring… Washable cloth pads are another alternative. Eco Femme is an initiative of Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), making washable cloth pads, “high-tech” versions – as they call it – of the traditional ones. Cloth pads are shaped for women’s bodies, stitched using soft yet durable cloth, and held in place by snap buttons. The pads are made of 100% cotton, and made to last for 5 years. Read More…

Back to basics: Eco Femme Puducherry making washable cloth-based sanitary pads

The Hindu, 14 October 2012

Ever wondered what impact menstrual hygiene has on the environment, with all those disposable sanitary pads used and thrown away every month? Can women adapt to healthy, affordable menstrual practices that are also eco-positive? Eleven women in Auroville, Puducherry, are trying to prove just that. They make up Eco Femme, a women’s empowerment and self-help group, that stitches and sells washable cloth-based sanitary pads. The group’s output is 1,600 pads a month — mostly sent to the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands. Now Eco Femme is trying to expand within India. Read More…

A beautiful solution to a natural problem?

CoLab Radio, 8 October 2012

It was a special day. The family was setting off to the temple to celebrate an important milestone in their child’s development. Then the mother ruined the occasion with news that threatened to bring misfortune onto the family. Her husband was furious and slapped her. Her crime was that her period had started… Eco Femme makes brightly coloured, washable, durable yet biodegradable sanitary pads designed to be comfortable, practical and – this may surprise you – beautiful. Read More…

Eco-Femme

Auroville Green Practices, 5 August 2012

Who would imagine that hygienic pads can turn into a “hip” product ? Well, take a look at EcoFemme’s products, and think again. Beautiful colors and state of the art design give a whole new look to the old “curse” as our grandmothers used to call the menstrual period. Disposable pads and other sanitary products create a major waste problem, and some of them pose health risks as well. Many women choose the more natural way of dealing with their bodies, and Eco Femme responds to the demand and the environmental concerns, with a “women to women” enterprise, creating income and capacity building opportunities to women from poor rural India. A project of AVAG (Auroville Village Action Group), inspired and headed by Kathy Walking, Eco Femme is now standing on its own feet, selling the products overseas, in Auroville, and starting a campaign for local markets, with some help from the Indian government. Read More…

Celebrating the Launch of Eco Femme for International Women’s Day

Crimson Campaign, 10 March 2012

On March 10, 2012, at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, Eco Femme is launching its work in the UK by making available a range of washable cloth pads that have been produced by members of women’s self-help groups in rural India. Eco Femme is a women’s empowerment project rising from rural India and reaching the world promoting menstrual practices that are, healthy, dignified, affordable and eco-positive. Crimson Campaign is lucky enough to be working in partnership with Eco Femme to share our projects and wishes to celebrate how Eco Femme is addbout menstruation. In the safety of small groups, women learn about the importance of hygienic practices and begin to accept and develop a healthier view of themselves through the process of exploring the myths and taboos that surround menstruation in India. Read More…

Striving for social empowerment

Auroville Today, August 2011

For almost 30 years, Auroville Village Action has been working in the surrounding villages, focusing on empowering men and women and on promoting the social, economic, psychological and environmental transformation of the villages. “Auroville’s Village Action (AVAG) works through Self-Help Groups (SHGs),” says Anbu, who, together with Moris, is directing AVAG’s activites… Today, AVAG works with 3,726 women organised in 197 Women SHGs, and with 701 men in 42 Men SHGs. They cover 80 villages and dalit hamlets with a combined population of 90,000 people… Eco Femme, another project, focus on menstrual hygiene management, a poorly addressed area of public health that involves social, cultural, economic, environmental, health and gender issues… Read Part 1 & Read Part 2

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