From research to reality: Panty liner Lilibet ready to make a difference
The project commenced in 2016 with a clear objective: to develop a menstrual protection product that is both environmentally friendly and an economical alternative to disposable plastic products. The idea stems from Karin Högberg's research on menstrual poverty and the fact that many women worldwide lack the means to manage their menstruation, while the use of disposable pads in the affluent parts of the world contributes to significant emissions.
Successful collaboration between Caring Science and Textile Technology
After several years of product and production development, the project and the company have reached fruition. The sale of the sustainable Spacerpad supports projects benefiting women in the DR Congo through collaboration with the local organisation Future Hope Africa. The finished product, Lilibet, is marketed as a saviour in times of need, a smaller pad that can be used, for example, as a complement to a menstrual cup. It can be useful in any situation where one might consider using a regular panty liner.
“What started many years ago as a product idea and vision now has a path that we believe will endure – finally. It feels absolutely fantastic”, said Karin Högberg, project leader and researcher at the Textile University.
Innovation for a good cause
She reveals that the recent tests involved 40 Swedish women, and the response has been positive.
“Many appreciate the vision that, when they buy this pad, they are simultaneously helping someone in need. We call the concept 'Spacerpad it forward!' and it is relevant to all the organizations we work with. There are always women with varying purchasing power."
The funding from Vinnova provides security as the project can continue for an additional two years with support from the University of Borås.
“It provides stability and is not something everyone is privileged to have. The University has been a platform for Spacerpad, and I am deeply grateful for that,” said Karin Högberg.
The Spacerpad project involves Karin Högberg and Nils Lindh from the Swedish School of Textiles, the University of Borås, as well as Läkarmissionen, Erikshjälpen, Svema AB, Facilette AB, and Spacerpad AB. Two foreign partners are also involved in the project: Sustainable World Corporation, a network of entrepreneurship hubs in different African countries, and Baala, which works to promote menstrual health for girls and women in India.
The Spacerpad is made of different layers of water-repellent polyester, which gives the sanitary pad properties that make it resemble a menstrual cup. It collects menstrual fluid like a container instead of through traditional fiber absorption, which makes the pad easy to clean and dries quickly.
Left: Spacerpad AB // Right: Future Hope Africa