OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Designing out waste from Sanitary Napkins

Redesigning packaging around individual napkins and outer packaging to reduce waste

Photo of Raghav M
1 0

Written by

An average woman uses 240 Tampons/Pads per year, spends $120 per year and menstruates for 40 years on average. (Source). This is the cost is not only borne by the woman but also by the environment. Each tampon/pad is wrapped in an individual plastic bag that usually ends up in the trash and never gets recycled. There are some solutions that are beneficial to the environment (Example) . But, they are not always viable and are not adopted widely. The individual wrapping provides comfort and ease, particularly during the work day. We set out to redesign this packaging so that we reduce waste but not take away the comfort an individual packaging provides.

We first spoke to women in our family and friends to learn more about how many they use per cycle, what they do with the wrapping after use. We learned that most of the women throw the plastic wrapping off a new napkin along with a used pad/tampon in the trash bin. And that they also some times use a paper wrapping to cover the used napkin before throwing it out to get rid of it discreetly and also keep the smell at bay.

So, we put our thinking caps on and came up with : EcoSan. EcoSan is a delivery service to deliver tampons/napkins and an app that helps a customer keep track of her periods. Here is how it works.

- Customer will sign up on our site with details about the intensity of her periods, preference for tampons/napkins and what her day looks like.
- For her first delivery, she will receive a customizable wooden box made with reclaimed wood with a musical box inside it that plays a soft melody when opened
- Inside the box, she will find 25 napkins/tampons individually wrapped in repurposed paper and she will also receive two tiny cloth bags with napkins/tampons inside them. The cloth bags are made from repurposed textiles(eg old baby clothes)
- The cloth bags can be used to carry a couple of napkins/tampons while on the go and are re-usable.
- At the end of the cycle, we will ask her a couple of questions about how many napkins she has left or if she needed more. We will use this information to eventually customize a number of napkins sent to a customer.
- For her next deliveries, she will receive a refill bag of napkins that she can put in the wooden box from earlier

Idea Title

EcoSan - A Circular approach to Sanitary Napkins

Where are you / your team located?


How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

The plastic wrapping around the sanitary napkins almost always ends up as waste. This way we save plastic from thousands of napkins every year. ending up in the environment

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This is applicable to almost any woman who is menstruating.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

We will be able to do nationwide shipping but we want to start in Boston and create easy pickup locations at the subway stations. This way we can avoid the environmental cost associated with shipping refill bags every month

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We want to start out in Boston with pick up locations and with an ability to ship to nationwide locations in the next year. Eventually, we envision being having disposing stations with refill packs at every major transportation hub and in the restrooms.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

We are still an early stage idea and only went through three iterations of prototyping. Every idea is born out of a need and it needs nurturing through feedback and mentorship. We believe being part of the accelerator will improve the design of our product, crunch the numbers better and will also help us make sure we don't accidentally create more waste in the process

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

From discussions on a road trip with some girl friends + OpenIDEO Boston Chapter

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Manvitha,

Excited to see you joining this challenge. We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top.

We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.