Samoan reusable hygiene solution wins at the UN

Angelica Salele-Sefo was one of twelve environmental startups awarded for the Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge. Her idea to produce reusable cotton feminine hygiene products won her $10,000 seed money to help make it a reality in the Pacific.



Winning projects address a variety of sustainability challenges across the Asia-Pacific region, offering innovative solutions for local, regional or even global environmental issues.


25-year-old Angelica Salele-Sefo’s project aims to reduce waste with reusable sanitary pads, according to the Samoan national disposable feminine sanitary pads contribute to increased household waste across the globe- and in the Pacific it remains a bigger issue due to a lack of alternatives available for women and girls that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.


Angelica, who works for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), studied Political Science and Criminology at Victoria University in Wellington and now lives in Apia with her husband and children.


She says the cotton pads will dramatically reduce the cost and waste impacts of female hygiene products in Samoa.


“By producing and selling reusable sanitary pads that are durable and made of natural fibers,” says Angelica, “women and girls have an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to single use, disposable sanitary pads made of toxic plastic materials.”


The Asia-Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge aims to mobilize and support young people with business ideas on how to foster energy-efficient, low-waste, and low-carbon lifestyles.


The winners of the Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge come from China, Bhutan, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Thailand.


As well as the start-up funding, the winners also receive mentoring and support.


UN Environment’s Director for the Asia-Pacific region, Dechen Tsering, says, “From plastic waste to climate change, we who live in Asia and the Pacific are confronting environmental challenges face-to-face almost daily. The natural ingenuity we find across our region is the key to solving these problems.”


Read more about the challenge