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GreenShoots Highlights: Aruna Revolution Health

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Invest Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub and Bioenterprise Canada Corporation partner to support early stage technology companies in the agriculture, agri-food, bioeconomy, clean technology, and related sectors. One way they do this is through GreenShoots, a program providing Nova Scotia start-ups with up to $40,000 and business guidance to put their plans into action. Let’s meet one of the recent program participants.

An individual uses 5,000 to 15,000 disposable menstrual pads and tampons in their lifetime. Tampons, pads and applicators generate 200,000 tonnes of waste every year in the US and Canada and it’s estimated that a regular non-organic pad takes up to 800 years to break down.

Fortunately, awareness and education around single-use menstrual products is increasing and companies like Aruna Revolution Health, creators of plastic-free, compostable menstrual pads, believe that while we cannot stop using menstrual products, we can replace them with an environmentally responsible option.

Aruna’s menstrual pads will be made from fibres of locally sourced food waste. That means the pads won’t just be biodegradable, but also compostable. As the pads decompose, they release vital nutrients that improve soil health and help plant growth.

“The idea came about from being someone who menstruates myself and feeling so guilty about the products I use. I would see how much garbage piled up every month from my use of menstrual products – and my periods are heavy, so I go through a lot,” said Aruna co-founder, Rashmi Prakash.

“Knowing all of this waste was ending up in the landfill made me feel so guilty about using them. But without them, I wouldn't be able to go to school or my job. It was very frustrating that I had to pick between my well-being and the well-being of the planet.”

After taking part in the latest GreenShoots cohort, Rashmi received a lot of media attention, which helped to connect her to local businesses and customers who reached out to support her company’s development. In less than a year since Rashmi moved her venture from Western Canada to Nova Scotia, she has already found a source of materials, leased production space in Burnside and hired her team.

“GreenShoots is amazing! We've been able to connect with so many people locally, and Paul Richards (Invest Nova Scotia’s manager of industrial biotech and agritech) has been helping us work on our investment strategy and supporting us in our development. Beyond that, the funding is fantastic too. It gives us more room to grow our company before investment and puts us in a stronger place.”

The future is bright for Aruna, whose overall goal is to ensure that every menstruator who needs access to a pad has one, without compromising the environment.

“In the future, we are planning to expand into diapers, maternity pads, incontinence products, as well as medical PPE (personal protective equipment) – all of which have unimaginable amounts of waste currently ending up in the landfill.”

“We want to start a revolution to encourage sustainability in engineering, and we want to ensure a future where people 500 years from now don't have to deal with the pads, diapers and products we use today.”