Why India Needs to Tackle Its Menstrual Waste

By: Sakshi Sinha

Plastic waste needs no introduction. We all know about plastic and how bad it is for the planet. The fact that “The Indian Ocean Garbage Patch” is among the top five garbage patches in the world shatters my heart. 

Plastic pollution is currently one of the biggest environmental concerns. Plastic has toxic pollutants that damage the environment and cause land, water, and air pollution. It can take hundreds or even thousands of years for plastic to decompose, so the damage to the environment is long-lasting or it could be everlasting since we are so least bothered about it. 

Sanitary Waste, a big contributor to plastic pollution

Sanitary Waste contributes to plastic waste in big quantities. Did you know that conventional sanitary pads contain a high percentage of Plastic? 

Every month, around 353 million women and adolescent girls across India use sanitary products and generate menstrual waste, and this number is growing with each passing day. The problem lies in the disposal of sanitary waste. Believe it or not, a single woman can generate up to 125 kg of non-biodegradable waste through her menstruating years alone!

Sanitary pads are made of up to 90% plastic and each pad is equivalent to four plastic bags!! Discarding them contributes to the landfill which is one of the biggest causes of environmental disasters. 

Every year India produces 9000 tonnes of sanitary waste, which is about 90% as heavy as the Eiffel Tower and it also affects marine life drastically. 

What can we do?

I recently came across the above facts and was shocked at the number of plastic pollution women alone create during her mensural years. At least, I being an environmentalist couldn’t continue harming the environment. 

So, I researched more and came across the idea of using menstrual cups which can be used for a minimum of 10 years! Imagine the amount of fewer pollution women will create if everyone dumps the use of sanitary pads.

So, what is the best way to avoid sanitary waste?

1. Try menstrual cups. Though they too take 500-800 years to decompose just like sanitary napkins its shelf life is around 10-15 years. 

File:Diva Cup and the Keeper.jpg
Image credits: Denniss

2. Reusable cloth pads are great options as well.

File:Sanitary napkin.JPG
Image credits: meghan

3. Start segregating sanitary waste by putting a mark on it.

4. Start spreading awareness among your friends and family about the importance of switching to biodegradable sanitary products. 

This is a very small change that women can bring in their lives to make the earth a better place to live in. I feel the Government should take some steps in making people aware of how to manage menstrual waste effectively and the importance of switching to cloth pads and mensural cups.

Once that is taken care of, it will be easy for anyone to make a green switch.

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

Sakshi Sinha

Sakshi Sinha

Sakshi is an ethical vegan and an environmentalist trying her best to do as much as she can for the planet! She runs her own blog on Instagram, @the._vegan._chick

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