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Asos Turns Fabric Off-Cuts into Reusable Sanitary Pads

Asos’s efforts to win the hearts (and wallets) of socially and environmentally conscious millennials appears to be continuing apace.

The U.K.-based online fashion retailer has pledged to help eradicate modern slavery, promote the circular economy and ban animal cruelty from its supply chain. It supports small-scale artisans, the LGBTQ community, Paralympic athletes and body positivity. It’s ramping up its use of recycled fibers, sustainable cotton and reclaimed deadstock.

Now, Asos is tackling “period poverty” in Africa, where the Human Rights Watch estimates that one in 10 school-age girls misses class during menstruation because she lacks access to sanitary products.

Together with Soko, the clothing manufacturer that produces Asos’s “Made in Kenya” collection, the Asos Foundation has launched a new platform to provide health education to 900 girls from six schools in the Kasigua region, according to British newspaper the Independent. 

Known as Kujuwa, which means knowledge in Swahili, the initiative will employ local seamstresses to turn fabric scraps from the “Made in Kenya” line into reusable, washable sanitary pads that can last up to three years.

Between 15 to 20 percent of fabric used to create clothing ends up on the cutting-room floor and then the landfill, industry experts estimate.

The pads, which feature removable liners, will be part of a special kit that includes two pairs of cotton briefs, a bar of soap and a waterproof wash bag.

The Kujuwa Initiative will also give schools access to the WASH Project, which provides water tanks and toilets with doors in poverty-stricken areas, so girls can change in private.

Besides helping girls continue their education, the pads will also help to generate income for Stitching Academy Hub, the sewing training school that Soko runs.