Fast Company weaves an amazing story about Indian inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham, who lost his wife, friends, and, well, almost everything in his quest to build a better sanitary napkin by wearing one himself — along with a goat blood-filled bladder.
After learning his wife (along with the overwhelming majority of women in India) couldn’t afford a sanitary napkin Muruganantham set out to invent an inexpensive alternative. And although he tested his designs on women, he also ate his own dogfood by (as Fast Company’s CoExist puts it) “Fashioning his own menstruating uterus by filling a bladder with goat’s blood, Muruganantham went about his life while wearing women’s underwear, occasionally squeezing the contraption to test out his latest iteration.” Amazingly, it worked. Kind of. (As you might imagine, he needed to test it on women as well.)
Yet the process is even more amazing than the bladder. High school drop-out Muruganantham essentially punked multinationals into sending him sample raw materials they used to make napkins, and reverse engineered them to build a machine that creates low-cost cellulose that can in turn be used to make low-cost sanitary napkins. (About $.25 for an 8-pack.) But he doesn’t sell the napkins. He sells the machines, which are funded by NGOs, and not only provide sanitary maxi pads to rural communities, but also jobs.
The entire story is kind of mind-blowing, kind of inspirational, and kind of gross. (I mean, goat’s blood in your pants? Really? Wow. That’s commitment.)
Image via Arunachalam Muruganantham