Upcycling Invasive Species to Address Social Issues: Developing a Compostable Menstrual Pad from Water Hyacinth




Vogel, Wren

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The water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), exhibits unique qualities that can be harnessed to create a product that promotes social equality: a compostable menstrual pad. Two countries, India and the United States share similarities in that Eichhornia, one of the world’s most notorious invasive plant species, is a threat to the environment and economy in both places, and each country has thousands of individuals who live the effects of period poverty. Using Eichhornia as a resource promotes ecological stability, the economy, and society, and can benefit both India and the United States from the impacts of inadequate sanitation and period poverty. This paper explores the potential of Eichhornia to be used as a resource when making value added goods. An in-depth analysis of sanitation insecurity will be provided, along with the social and environmental effects of poor sanitation, and the effects of period poverty. Following the analysis of the effects of poor sanitation and period poverty, recommendations are made on how to fabricate a menstrual pad utilizing the fibers of Eichhornia. The layers of a western-style menstrual pad will be deconstructed, and the distinct function of each layer will be explained. Eichhornia exhibits physiological characteristics that suit it for application in each layer of a menstrual pad. Using Eichhornia to fabricate a compostable menstrual pad is just one example of how we can create value added products from invasive species that benefit people and the planet.



menstruation, period poverty, water hyacinth, upcycling, invasive species, sanitation, menstrual pad, San Marcos River


Vogel, W. (2022). Upcycling invasive species to address social issues: Developing a compostable menstrual pad from water hyacinth (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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