Upcycling masks into sanitary pads – GoDiva’s Maria Horn

Coronavirus waste has become a new form of pollution as personal protective equipment floods our oceans and rivers. It has prompted the World Economic Forum to ask governments to ensure a green recovery that incentivises sustainability. The South African non-profit-organisation, GoDiva, started a project to upcycle masks into sanitary pads, thereby solving two problems at once: mask pollution and the lack of sanitary products for less advantaged girls, which leads to absenteeism at schools. But disaster struck the project and GoDiva’s Maria Horn told BizNews about what they would need to get it off the ground again. – Linda van Tilburg

The idea came from an Indian Covid project to turn sanitary products into masks

It was started four years ago when GoDiva founder, Jolindy Dreyer made the sanitary pads. She went into schools and chatted to pupils, young girls. We found out that most of them, or hardly anyone can afford sanitary pads. If there are no sanitary pad, they don’t go to school. They miss school. So, she started the project and then in 2020 with COVID, everything stopped. In that year, Jolindy saw a video about India, the machines that they’re working on, they converted them and they started making masks for doctors in India when Covid hit. So, she thought to herself, okay, why can’t we just reverse the process and use the masks to make sanitary pads? So, that’s where the idea came from to take the masks and remake them into usable sanitary pads for young girls.

Building on other charity projects to uplift communities

Heavenly Haven was started with soup kitchens in 2010. We’ve got the Phoenix Mobile Library that we have with old age homes. We travel between old age homes with the Phoenix Library – and then there’s this upliftment scheme where women are taught skills to go into the world and make money for themselves. We’ve got the preemie project as well, where people knit and crochet beanies for premature babies in hospitals. And we’ve got the jars of hope that we fill with lentils for a soup mix and we give it to underprivileged households that are battling for food. At the moment we are busy negotiating on a project to show people how to plant their own vegetables to be self-sustainable, to sell vegetables to make money as well as feed themselves.

A flood struck and destroyed 16 machines

We’ve got 16 industrial machines that we use but last year we had a terrible flood that came through George and the factory was flooded and all 16 machines were destroyed. So, we are busy negotiating with the insurance company to pay us for a couple of machines, so they can just get started again. We need funding to replace the other machines, because all the machines have been damaged. At the moment we’ve got no machines. But we are busy collecting the masks and we are trying to see where we can get funding to replace our machines.

The project can’t use surgical masks

If the girls look after their cloth sanitary pads; it can last them years, it can last them 3, 4 or 5 years but the surgical masks, after the fifth wash, they start to fray and when you wash them, they tear. The surgical masks are not ideal for a sanitary pad because the cloth or the mask only forms the outer layer of the pad. There is microfibre, cotton and all these absorbent materials in it, and then there is a waterproof material that we use inside the cloth. So, the cloth mask is only the outer part of the pad.

Drop-off points for cloth masks

We’ve got drop off points; Pet, Pool & Home said we can use them as drop-off points right across South Africa and then in Cape Town there is Quick Spar in Pinelands, they’ve got a drop-off box there for us. Every day people phone in and they want to be part of it; they want to be drop-off points for us. So, at the moment, we’re busy making a list of all the places in South Africa where people can drop off their masks.

We just want to appeal to the public to open their hearts and of course, their wallets and donate some funds for us because we are in urgent need of funds for this project and we need funds to buy the waterproof material, to buy the microfibre, the absorbent material and of course the yarn for the stitching and the press studs for the pads to close around the panties. We need machines and we need other inside materials as well.

If anybody can help, email: [email protected]

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