Spotlight on Sanitree

Posted: 05 September 2023, in Member Spotlight

Please meet Sanitree, a student-led social enterprise that tackles period poverty and the stigma surrounding menstruation in a sustainable, collaborative and ethical way.

Sanitree’s vision is that menstruation becomes an experience that is empowering for people and kind to the planet. There is both a wealth and geographical divide in terms of using safe and hygienic sanitary products, a basic human right which should be afforded to all menstruating people equally.

We caught up with Head Editor Erin and Head Writer Jen, who shared their vision, plans, personal motivation and top tips on their social enterprise journey.

What’s your social and/or environmental mission?

Sanitree is a student-led social enterprise based in both Edinburgh and Jaipur which aims to fight period poverty and the stigma surrounding menstruation through the production, sale and donation of sustainable period pads. 

How do you do it?

Collaboration is at the heart of Sanitree, tackling period poverty and stigma through multifaceted channels. Our production centre in Jaipur works with women from marginalised communities to produce sustainable pads and empower them with community, training, and financial independence. Our Edinburgh team works to support these operations, providing funding and awareness through sales and fundraising events, outreach, blog and podcast publication. 

Why should someone buy/use your product/services?

Our reusable and biodegradable pads offer a unique opportunity to make both a social and environmental impact. Purchasing a Sanitree pad makes a tangible impact on the beneficiaries’ livelihoods while also being environmentally conscious, saving numerous disposable pads from landfills. Plus, they are a smarter choice for consumers – a cheaper, safer, and allergy-friendly alternative to disposable pads. 

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur?

We believe in the power of innovation and collaboration to make a meaningful difference in the lives of menstruators. Empowering our beneficiaries while providing a sustainable product and creating long-term impacts is a model that inspires us every day.  

What is the current focus for your social enterprise?

We aim to continue to grow our operations both in Edinburgh and Jaipur, focusing on increasing outreach and awareness of Sanitree and its mission. Through this, we hope to contribute to the dismantling of the social stigma surrounding menstruation and continue to support our beneficiaries in Jaipur and pad production. 

What exciting things do you have coming up?

We are looking to expand our workshops in Jaipur, having previously run self-defence and English workshops for our beneficiaries. Furthermore, we have just recruited our new team in Edinburgh, so we are excited to start up some new sub-teams to further grow our Sanitree family, such as our new podcast which we are launching soon.

Who do you want to work with more?

We would like to work with the UN, our aim is to supply pads to refugee camps, providing long-term solutions to period dignity. We also have ambitions for our pads to be integrated into the Free Period Provision Scheme, an achievement with full-circle significance as our team played an instrumental role in the passing of the legislation. Also, we want to expand our community outreach in Jaipur, welcoming more women to the Her Shakti Centre, and creating a safe space for skill-sharing and growth. 

What’s your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge was perhaps when we had to leave our old Her Shakti Centre due to lockdown and a rent increase during Covid, which left us without a place to create the pads and led to many of our beneficiaries losing their jobs and livelihoods. However, we managed to find a new space, relaunching production again with a new and improved pad design.

Where do you see your organisation in 5 years?

As we celebrated our fifth anniversary last year, we are eager to embrace the successes and challenges that the next 5 years will bring! We wish to expand our innovative and collaborative ethos to increase our social impact and continue to strengthen our sales strategy and business model.

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises?

The top tip we would give other social enterprises is perseverance and the importance of problem-solving. Sometimes your ideas won’t work or something will go wrong but the key is to take this as a challenge to grow and improve. If you have an idea or a dream you can achieve it with hard work, ambition, and determination. 

More information:

Did you know? Here’s some amazing Sanitree achievements:

  • Produced over 10,000 pads, saving over 200,000 disposable pads from ending up in landfill
  • Provided 38 volunteer students with invalubable internships working in our sub teams, vital to thir career progression
  • Delivered menstrual education and awareness raising session to over 8,0000 women and girls in India
  • Donated 4,5000 pads, providing two years of period dignity to 1,500 menstruates

For more information about Sanitree, please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X and LinkedIn to keep updated with their work.

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