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Awareness about the harm easily-accessible, plastic-based sanitary napkins have been causing to both health and the environment is spreading — but slowly. And helping the cause of better menstrual hygiene, many sanitary pad makers, NGOs and indigenous brands are turning towards natural products to produce sustainable pads.
Organic cotton, banana or jute fibre — and even old clothes — are now among the alternatives on offer to the sanitary pads sold by the MNCs in India.
But why do we need these alternatives?
According to reports, every plastic-based sanitary pad has non-biodegradable content which takes around 500-800 years to decompose. Apart from the threat to the environment, medical experts have also voiced concern over possible pelvic infection due to repeated use of these easily-available plastic pads.
One of the companies providing an alternative is Ahmedabad-based Saathi, which was started in 2015 by graduates from MIT, Harvard and Nirma.
“We realised that there was a need for an alternative, and urban women were looking for different products because they were becoming aware of the consequences of plastic-based pads. The idea of using banana fibre came up and we decided to make sanitary pads based on it,” Saathi co-founder Kristin Kagetsu told IANS. Banana fibre comes from the stem of the banana tree, which, after harvesting, is normally discarded. Saathi buys the stems from collectives of local farmers.
“After being disposed, Saathi’s pads degrade within six months, which is 1,200 times faster than the MNC pads. Since our products are made of natural materials, Saathi pads provide an experience free of rashes and irritation,” Kagetsu added.
It was not an easy ride for the founders of Saathi. Tarun Bothra, another co-founder, said apart from breaking the taboos associated with menstruation, another major challenge for them was to convince banana farmers to sell them the fibre for making pads. “Periods are something that farmers associate with being ‘impure’. So convincing them that it was better to use the banana fibre for the pads than letting it go as a waste was difficult, but we succeeded,” he noted.
Another sanitary pad maker, EcoFemme, based in Auroville, is also in the business of making eco-friendly menstrual products — they make cloth-based pads using organic cotton.
“Our target is women aged 18-35. Our products are sold in rural areas through our ‘Pads for Sisters’ programme which offers women the opportunity to buy the pads at a reduced price. The response is good, once there has been a conversation around the benefits,” said Laura O’Connell from EcoFemme.
It’s not just producing the pads; the makers have also taken up the responsibility of creating awareness about menstrual hygiene amongst women, especially in rural areas.
Anshu Gupta’s Not Just Piece of Cloth (NJPC) was among the first to turn clothes into pads. For over a decade now, ‘MyPad’ has been selling its products in rural areas where there is little access to sanitary pads, and even in cities.
“In earlier times, clothes were used. But it was portrayed that clothes were unhygienic. Yes, they are, if not cleaned properly. We at Goonj first thoroughly clean the clothes, make them hygienic, make the pads and the distribute them among women, especially in rural areas,” Meenakshi Gupta from NJPC told IANS.
She revealed that the idea of making cloth pads came when Goonj, an NGO, found that in rural areas, or even slums of urban cities, women use clothes during menstruation. “It is better to use hygienic clothes than nothing. Women in rural areas lack the knowledge that if used in a hygienic way then clothes are equally good. We don’t aim to make profits, rather make women aware about periods. We have observed quite a change (in attitudes),” she added.
When will such products make it to every household?
Although Saathi has collaborated with local NGOs to reach out to rural women, its co-founder Bothra — also the company’s CTO — believes that the wider use of alternative sanitary pads is going to take some time in India.
“Frankly speaking, in rural areas women don’t even have an idea about sanitary pads; so knowing about the existence of biodegradable sanitary napkins or organic pads or even hygienic clothes is very rare,” Bothra, whose products are available on e-commerce platforms, explained. He further noted that since the MNC-produced pads are easily available at low cost, women don’t show much interest in investing money on the alternatives.
“Price is often a factor for women when it comes to the purchase of biodegradable or organic pads. When one is getting the plastic-based sanitary pads at a lower rate, they don’t like to shell out extra ,” Bothra noted. O’Connell said that though their products have a higher up-front cost, the pads can be used for three to four months — which saves money over time.
“Our ‘Pads for Sister’ programme aims to make our pads affordable to women who would otherwise not be able to afford them; and our ‘Pad for Pad’ programme provides our pads to school girls for free,” she added. The alternatives are slowly treading the path to being accessible to all, and their makers are optimistic about the future.
“There is a growing awareness, but there is a lot of work to do to make reusable options more widely known. We believe in informed choices; so we hope that more people in all areas of India, not just rural, will become aware of sustainable options and make a decision based on the fact that reusable products are better for health, the planet and our wallets,” O’Connell commented. IANS
By- Tejas Maheta
Free VPNs tend to get a bad rap (and often for good reasons, which we'll discuss in a second). Still, there are some safe and free VPN services recommended by expats - just click the link for some solid options. Next, scroll on to see how you can put them to good use while you're abroad.
Privacy and Security (to a Certain Degree)
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic – garble it, basically – to keep it safe from:
- ISPs that want to sell your browsing and location data for a profit
- Hackers and script kiddies lurking at every corner public hotspot
- Government surveillance agencies spying on their own citizens
Even free VPNs can do as much, as long as you go with a trustworthy provider such as those linked at the start.
On top of that, VPNs hide your real life location by masking your IP address and assigning a new one based on the server you connect to. Useful in case some cyberstalkers or trolls lure you into clicking on IP-grabbing links or scripts to determine your location. Unfortunately, it's not as effective against GPS tracking (though there are some paid VPNs out there that can spoof GPS).
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Unblock Some Websites While Abroad
While not as versatile as a subscription-based VPN, free VPNs still have some unblocking ability that can be useful to an expat. For instance, you can access your home banking or investment accounts, which in most cases block foreign traffic. Understandably so, since a lot of cyber attacks tend to be linked to international hacker networks.
Using a VPN also allows you to access small news sites from back home, who simply don't find it worth it to comply with GDPR regulations in the EU. Alternatively, you can set your virtual location outside the EU to get around all those annoying cookie consent pop-ups. Funny little side effect, but it can definitely save you some grey hairs while browsing.
Finally, free VPNs can unblock some content such as region-locked music videos, or age-restricted YouTube videos in the EU without having to give up your ID or credit card information to Google. You won't have much luck using free VPNs on content platforms like Netflix, though. Those of you looking to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming sites are better off using a sub-based VPN.
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic.Wikipedia
Bypass Firewalls and Censorship
VPNs sure seem like a master thief's skeleton key, don't they? So many Internet barriers out there, all of them nullified with the help of a single tool. And yes, they can easily get around firewalls as well.
For the most part, you'll be using a VPN to unblock social media and other "distractions" at work or at school. Believe it or not, airport and hotel Wi-Fi can be pretty restrictive too. Thankfully, VPNs make short work of their firewall rules.
And while not as effective as a paid option, free VPNs can also help during Internet blackouts caused by government censorship. Look no further than the recent Hong Kong protests, the frequent social media shutdowns in Turkey, and similar cases worldwide. All of these have one thing in common: free VPN usage shot up immensely as people sought ways to contact their loved ones or post their outrage online.
Why the Negative View of Free VPNs?
You've seen all the great things you can accomplish with a free VPN. So why all the bad press about them? Well, here are some fairly valid concerns that apply to a decent chunk of free providers:
- They sell user data – after all, they need to pay for operational costs somehow. It just so happens that advertisers find your browsing habits highly valuable.
- Several free VPNs based in Hong Kong breached their "no-logs" policies and ended up leaking 1.2 TB of user data online. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, considering the data harvesting practices of most free VPNs.
- They can infect your device with malware that can extract sensitive info or otherwise cause damage. In one major case, user devices were hijacked into a botnet and used in a large scale denial-of-service attack.
Other criticisms are directed at their data caps, slow performance, the small number of overcrowded servers, and the bandwidth throttling. Add to that the fact that they don't unblock region-specific Netflix libraries or other streaming sites, and you can see why people aren't too thrilled about them.
Still, if you're not looking for anything fancy, a free VPN should tide you over until you can fit an actual subscription into your budget. Just stick to the trusty VPNs we've linked to in the beginning.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
The Cupertino-based tech giant Apple has started rolling out iOS 12.5.5 to older models of the iPhone and iPad. "This update provides important security updates and is recommended for all users," Apple said in the release notes for iOS 12.5.5.
The update is available for the iPad Air, the iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3, as well as the 6th gen iPod touch, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. All of these devices were dropped from support with iOS 13. The iOS 12.5.5 update addresses issues related to maliciously crafted PDFs, web content, and apps.
ALSO READ: The September Event Of Apple Inc.
Apple had previously rolled out iOS 12.5.4 in June with security fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities and other issues. Apple has also started seeded the first betas of iOS 15.1 as well as iPadOS 15.1. After removing SharePlay in iOS 15 beta 2, Apple has re-enabled the feature in the iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, and tvOS 15.1 betas. Apple decided to pull SharePlay from the iOS 15 launch because it was not properly functioning and was still riddled with issues.
It adds features to the Health app like support for storing health-related data for Covid-19 immunisations and test results. With the latest iOS 15.1 Beta, one can now add vaccination cards to the Apple Wallet application. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Apple, iPhone, iPad, iOS, update
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Lakme Fashion Week, announced a collaboration to celebrate "NBA 75" the leagues landmark 75th Anniversary Season in 2021-22. As part of the collaboration, the NBA and Lakme Fashion Week will offer fashion designers from across India the opportunity to submit designs for an "NBA 75" collection. Select designs will be evaluated by a panel comprised of fashion designers, industry experts and local influencers, with the winning designer announced at the upcoming October edition of Lakme Fashion Week.
The winner will then be mentored by a leading fashion expert and will work alongside the NBA on a capsule collection to commemorate NBA 75. The NBA 75 range, which will include jerseys, t-shirts, headwear, sweatpants, hoodies, jackets and other apparel, will be unveiled at Lakme Fashion Week in March 2022.
"We are excited to collaborate with Lakme Fashion Week and offer Indian designers the chance to express their vision in celebration of NBA 75," said NBA Asia Executive Vice President & Managing Director Scott Levy. "The NBA and its players are synonymous with fashion and culture, and this friendly competition will showcase the talent and passion that Indian designers have for basketball and the NBA during our landmark 75th Anniversary Season." The collection will be available for purchase after the event on the NBAStore.in and at select retail destinations. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: NBA, Lakme, beauty, basketball, Lakme fashion week