AN ARTIST from Ibworth who runs a fabric upcycling business has partnered with an education charity to provide sanitary products for school girls in Kenya.

Emma Obojiofor has been making twine crafts from fabric scraps for about three years but, returning to the area just before the first national lockdown after eight months travelling in Australia , decided she would set up her business, Jup, and sell a variety of sustainable products.

The 31-year-old private tutor told the Gazette: “I set it up properly in April this year. I have a degree in fine art and I have always been creative, but I also like making things that are useful - I love my sewing machine! Waste reduction was the main thing, the USP, for me.

“It brings me a lot of joy, and I aim to be creative and hopefully help the environment as well.”

Emma began selling re-usable, handmade sanitary pads and last month partnered with charity Educate the Kids, to send one pad to schoolgirls in Africa for every one she sells.

Emma said: “I knew already about the need for such products in more rural countries and I was wanting to collaborate with somebody on that for a while.

“It is a double bonus - you are giving to somebody, but also being more sustainable yourself.

“[The girls the charity supports] don’t go to school when they are on their period and the charity estimated they are potentially missing 20 per cent of their education. Women there don’t have equal rights so education for the girls is so important.

“I love the thought of them being educated about what their menstrual cycle is, and then going to school. The important thing for me is that they get their education. It is definitely something close to my heart.”

Emma feels like the project will appeal to two different types of people - those who care about plastic waste, and those who maybe don’t need sanitary products themselves, but want to donate to others.

“I have a couple of people who have just wanted to buy and donate the pads but not needed them themselves. Then they would actually be donating double the amount by giving up the set that would normally be sent to them. They just need to add a note to the order saying to donate all.”

The pads are three-layered and come in three different thicknesses. There is a fabric layer, an absorptive layer made of old towels, and a waterproof layer currently made of recycled umbrella material.

Emma said: “The pads are made from fabric scraps, so I reduce waste from the textile industry as well as from sanitary products.

“Sanitary waste is really shocking. I used to think that flushing your tampon down the toilet was ok! But it all ends up in the waterways.

“I love the natural world and so I imagine a turtle getting stuck in something I have thrown away and that’s enough to make me not buy that product.”

Emma sources the materials from six small businesses she has connected with who save their scraps and send them to her, as well as unusable material donated to the Oakley Stitchers - a local sewing group which has been making PPE throughout the pandemic, and which Emma has been a part of.

She added: “I love knowing that my products are not only helping my customers reduce their waste, but also enriching the lives of those who are vulnerable and in need in another country.”

Yvonne Craig, of Educate the Kids, said: “We are delighted to be working with Emma. In addition to providing much needed sanitary pads for girls who often have to use rags or paper, we are impressed with the environmental benefits that using recycled products brings.”

To find out more or purchase the pads, visit: linktr.ee/jup.upcycle