A design-led socio-ecological transition for a sustainable sanitary future.
Award: GSA Sustainability Degree Show Prize 2021 – Highly Commended
We are a team of four concerned citizens who believe in the power of design for envisioning a sustainable sanitary future – Alessandra Pizzuti, Federica Bruschi, Vinishree Solanki and Mihika Mehra.
The local authorities, schools, colleges and public places provide free and easy access to sanitary pads, tampons and reusable pads to whoever needs them. A revolutionary step in itself, it sparked the idea of our team living in Scotland to take the next leap. When Scotland was announced as the first country to address period poverty by making the period products free, the citizens wholeheartedly welcomed this progressive legislation. Therefore, we aim to bring together experts and the citizens of Scotland to start a conversation about sanitary products and provide a platform for encouraging social innovation.
We wanted to extend this access forward to not only period products but to the whole sanitary products domain comprising of baby diapers, adult diapers and period products. A Visionary Hub for collaboration, co-creation and raising awareness while engaging the communities, organisations and government to envision a sustainable sanitary future through innovation and knowledge sharing.
However, we believed that accessibility is only solving a part of the problem, and the major questions it raised was “How might we initiate a sustainable sanitary revolution in Scottish homes and public places to minimize the environmental impact?” and “How is the production and consumption of sanitary products affecting the planet, people and the economies around the world?” Addressing these key concerns to future changemakers, we propose to set up a social innovation hub in Dundee, Scotland. This would be center for experimentation of material, incubation of ideas, workshop space for co designing, a database of scientific and indigenous knowledge, and providing a stage for collaboration.
Impact: Visionary Hub aims for interventions that lead to environmental and social impact, always thinking about the planet and its ecosystem as well as the people and their needs in the social framework. The hub will incubate ideas on bio-degradable solutions for diapers and sanitary pads, accelerating innovation through co-designing with various stakeholders and experts. The goal is to minimise waste generated through sanitary products and develop sustainable waste disposal system.
Raising awareness towards ecofriendly solutions for diapers and pads is crucial as well, and the Hub aims to do that through collaborations with schools, colleges, care homes, gynecologists, pediatricians, healthcare systems and local authorities. Events and workshops will target to educate and spread awareness about reusable and bio-degradable products. The Hub strongly believes in social impact by creating an environment to encourage conversations among communities. It calls for eradicating the taboos existing in society by redefining the preconceived notions within society and highlighting the physical needs of the people.
Creativity & Design: Scotland’s rich biodiversity and natural habitat is already a home to many ecofriendly organizations aiming at preserving the natural resources. Our Visionary Hub takes inspiration from the surrounding Scottish landscape while co-existing with the nature. It aims to create a green architectural space utilising the locally available material and resources. The Hub maintains a digital platform and social media for sharing information about events, a platform for holding virtual talks and dialogues. Another medium of communication for creating awareness is through radio and media, which the Hub extensively uses for its campaigns.
Feasibility: A feasible plan that lays down the process of creating the first of Scotland’s Visionary Hub involves:
– Initial funding through approaching industries supporting social innovation or crowd funding
– Renting co-working spaces
– Collaborating with similar initiatives and enthusiasts
– Developing the website and social media
– Approaching UKRI (UK Research & Innovation – https://www.ukri.org/) for major funding, buying
land in Scotland and building the Hub
– Setup the incubation hub for startups
– Co-creation workshops, events to raise awareness
– Promoting and supporting sustainable companies/ manufacturers
– Exhibiting and sharing the stories and work of individuals
– Increasing access to sustainable products
Scalability: Making Scotland a social innovation leader paving the way for global scalability. The concept is adaptable to different contexts easily as the emphasis is placed on indigenous products and beliefs existing in society. The systems in each country and the situation regarding the availability of sanitary products are different. Scotland is one of the few countries to offer sanitary products for free making it easier to shift focus on purchasing more eco-friendly products. However, in locations where this isn’t possible, and the main problem is the availability of sanitary products, there the primary focus of the hub would be more on education at a grassroots level and then improving access to eco-friendly sanitary products.