The moment you’re taking a pregnancy test, you’re probably not thinking about much besides the result. But while your mind may be elsewhere, it turns out that nearly 2 million pounds of used home pregnancy tests wind up in landfills each year. The plastic diagnostic tools “are only used for a few minutes, but they are made out of things that are not sustainable,” says Lia cofounder and CEO Bethany Edwards. “We believe that materials should match up with product life cycles.”
Lia, the world’s first flushable pregnancy test, stems from a grad school project that Edwards and two classmates embarked on at the University of Pennsylvania’s integrated product design program. It’s the winner of the health category of Fast Company’s 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards. “Nobody had innovated on the form factor of the pregnancy test in over 30 years,” she says. The biggest change in that time has been to add an electronic display and mini-battery, adding to the waste footprint of pregnancy tests.
The device uses the same amount of material as six squares of three-ply toilet paper and contains no glue. Its protein-, plant-, and mineral-based fibers biodegrade whether flushed or composted, which means that in addition to their environmental benefits, they offer a revolutionary new measure of privacy. The device is thin enough to go into an envelope and can be placed in a back pocket.
“Pregnancy is personal,” says Edwards. “We give women control in a discreet, sanitary, and better-for-the-environment way.”
The product offers the same 99% accuracy rate as existing stick-type home tests, according to the company. Users pee in the middle of the device, much as they do. And it has a similar coding system: one line indicates a negative result; two lines means a pregnancy is happening.
Lia, which was founded in 2015, received FDA approval last December and is currently on track to start selling its product in stores and on Amazon this summer. A pack of two is priced at between $13 and $15.
Next, the company plans to expand into additional home diagnostic tests for ovulation and urinary tract infections. Those tests will also be water-dispersible and eco-friendly.