Menstrual hygiene product by UPES students gets special mention at National Design Awards
Vendo, developed by UPES School of Design students Bhasha Maheswari, Siddhi Deshpande and Shruti Bamb, won the ‘Special Mention Award in Product Design’ at the MIT-WPU National Design Awards 2022
According to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16), there are around 355 million menstruating women and girls in India. However, women across the country experience significant barriers to a comfortable and dignified experience with menstrual hygiene management.
They face issues in first accessing, and then discarding the used pads in public washrooms. And for the cleaning staff who handle them later, it is a nightmare. Once discarded, one sanitary pad takes up to 500 – 800 years to decompose. Given that an average woman uses 12 sanitary napkins every cycle – which accounts for approximately 15,000 pads or more during her life – the number of pads landing in the landfill worldwide is unfathomable.
To address this complex problem, three UPES School of Design students – Bhasha Maheswari, Siddhi Deshpande and Shruti Bamb – developed Vendo, a public sanitary solution for women.
Vendo helps in managing hygiene in public washrooms with ease in a sustainable, accessible and eco-friendly manner. It is a combination of a sanitary napkin vending machine and an incinerator. The incinerator helps with the easy disposal of soiled napkins and the vending section helps provide access to sanitary napkins 24*7. The machine runs with a token of INR 5 with three different pad size options.
“The intent was to create a product with massive social and environmental impact. That is when we realised the need to create a product that helps in managing female hygiene,” says Bhasha, a fourth-year B.Des. (Industrial and Product Design) student.
Shruti, who is also pursuing Industrial and Product Design, says that the thought of “literally leaving a lot of crap for the future generations to come” made her think about a sustainable way to discard sanitary waste. “We saw an opportunity in a pad-burning incinerator. That was the beginning of Vendo,” she says.
Elaborating how Vendo can help curb the mounting menstrual waste, Siddhi says, “Burning of sanitary napkins is better than disposing them in the garbage. But not many people are aware of this method. The product that we designed has a vending machine and an incinerator for the sanitary napkins with better display and control. We want this product to be installed in public washrooms, mall washrooms and other public spaces.”
Given that several products in the market provide similar services, what differentiates Vendo from the competition? “The highlight of Vendo is that it is a combination of a vending machine and incinerator. And its user-centred design adds to the greater purpose. The form and ease-of-use of the product make it convenient for the users. Additionally, Vendo incinerates pads at the right temperature, which most of the incinerators in the market do not do. Features like storage, battery backup and easy-to-use control panel also make it stand out,” says Bhasha.
It is their innovative approach to solving a gigantic problem that got the trio the ‘Special Mention Award in Product Design’ for Vendo at the MIT-WPU National Design Awards 2022.
Talking about the achievement, Shruti says, “As designers, we are asked to design systems and experiences in an increasingly complex environment. For the MIT-WPU National Design Award 2022, the theme was ‘Design for the Society’. With the ability to shape values and expectations, designers have an obligation to use their skills to improve lives, create opportunities, and bring people together. The idea I had with my two other group members, Siddhi Deshpande and Bhasha Maheshwari, helps shape society and increases awareness around the need for the product.”