India has a total of 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to be taken care every year and the majority of which are non-biodegradable.
Menstrual hygiene products are undoubtedly extremely good for women’s health and wellbeing but on the flip-side, it might be choking the Earth. A lesser-known fact is that a used sanitary pad might exist somewhere on the Earth for more than 50-100 years! This happens because of the usage of plastic and other synthetic content in the sanitary pads. Switching to alternative solutions might serve the purpose of conserving the environment and could include adopting sustainable options such as reusable or 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins, which will reduce the waste load on the planet.
According to Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI), there are almost 336 million women in India in the menstruating age group, of which only 36 per cent, get to use or have access to disposable sanitary pads which sum up to 121 million women. India has a total of 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to be taken care of every year and the majority of which are non-biodegradable and are not disposed-off properly. Menstrual waste is usually dumped in landfills, thrown in open spaces and water bodies, burnt, buried or flushed down toilets. Each of these disposal techniques, rather than getting rid of the waste, poses a different type of risk to the environment. For instance, burning releases carcinogenic fumes in the form of dioxins and furans creating an air pollution hazard.
One possible solution to such a grave problem can be switching to a reusable and environmentally-friendly sanitary pad which are biodegradable. This small choice of switching to reusable sanitary napkins might make a large impact.
Here’s how it might help:
Reusable menstruation products are health-friendly:
The raw material used to make synthetic pads mostly contains cotton, synthetic fibres, wood pulp and plastic. Cotton production uses a lot of toxins. The synthetic pads prepared are bleached with chlorine dioxide which not only remains in the environment for ages but also makes a permanent place in the human body. Other synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances added have a list of side effects on our body. In short, the manufacturing of synthetic sanitary pads is bad for the environment.
The synthetic pads use plastics which block airflow and possibly encourage painful rashes. Disposable pads also use synthetic fibres like Rayon which are super absorbent, due to which they also absorb the moisture of the intimate area increasing the chances of severe pain and infections. The reusable sanitary napkins are made using natural raw material made with less chemical content might help in avoiding these issues.
How reusable sanitary pads are made:
Reusable sanitary pads are mostly made of high absorbing natural fibre which has a removable liner or waterproof lining sewn inside which helps in extra absorption making the pads leak-proof and quite comfortable.
One disposable pad is equal to 4 plastic bags and takes 500 to 800 years to decompose and perish from the face of the earth. It might also disturb the animal habitats both on land and in water. Switching to reusable would make a great difference.
The total costs of the reusable pads are quite low as compared to the cost of synthetic disposable pads used in a year. If used carefully, reusable sanitary pads might last for a year compared to synthetic pads which have a life of only a few hours. This move might be an effective initiative not only in saving our environment but also towards women’s health and well-being.
Facts and figures mentioned above are provided by Sanfe and Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI).