If myths are to be believed, menstrual blood is an evil omen and can spoil food, ruin crops, turn milk and wine sour. But a 21-year-old engineering student from Thrissur is on a myth-busting spree.
Aishwarya P G of Vidya Academy of Science and Technology gives pride of place to menstrual pads in her home. She intends to hang them in porticoes, balconies, living rooms and grow plants with its help. This was Aishwarya's way of telling the world that used sanitary pads are not evil but cotton from them can be converted into compost and the plastic can be used to make small grow bags for plants that could be hung in balconies or living rooms.
Her idea won the second prize at the Swachchathon event, an initiative of Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin held in New Delhi on September 7 and 8, 2017.
The only Keralite and the youngest participant of the programme, the budding engineer also got a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh and a certificate from Union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation S S Ahluwalia.
The idea dawned on her when the Swachh Bharat Mission announced the contest giving six categories to choose from and Aishwarya picked sanitary waste management. She proposed the plan to tackle the increasing menstrual waste created by non-biodegradable sanitary napkins.
"It is elementary," she says. Because this final year student trusts chemistry to work wonders for her as she has always been in love with the subject from her school days.
"Though incinerators convert waste material into ash, it involves controlled burning and there are chances of toxic emission. My idea was to give a chemical treatment to the used sanitary napkins and it was a success," Aishwarya, daughter of P V Gopalakrishnan, a businessman, and Santhakumari, told Onmanorama on Women's Day.
She has already applied for a patent for her invention and has won several other competitions.
Some leading companies have already approached Aishwarya to help her implement the idea and she hopes to bring in a change to the society. "I will have to wait for two more years to get the patent but I am happy that many companies are supporting the idea," she says. "This idea can be implemented on an industrial scale and could really create a difference in our country’s waste management process," adds Aishwarya.
Aishwarya recently got the innovator's award for best woman entrepreneur held in Kochi and has been attending several other events to spread awareness among people. When asked whether she was proud of her success, Aishwarya says she was the only student who was invited to the Swachhata award ceremony held on October 2, where prime minister Narendra Modi was present.