Menstruation is a natural process and an integral aspect of a woman’s reproductive health, and a powerful symbol of her femininity. However, the monthly cycle can be a challenge for many women, as it requires them to use sanitary products to absorb menstrual blood.
The most common menstrual products include pads and tampons, usually made of plastic and synthetic materials. Unfortunately, these products can take thousands of years to decompose, which makes them a significant source of environmental pollution.
‘A few years back, I was shocked to learn that more than half of India’s plastic waste comes from sanitary pads! So from that day forward, I have used cotton pads or menstrual cups for my monthly cycles’.Prerna from Bangalore, India.
In recent years, eco-friendly menstrual products, such as menstrual cups and reusable pads, have become increasingly popular to reduce plastic waste and promote sustainable living. So let’s explore ways to support the eco-friendly mindset and delve deeper into the dark side, too.
Initiatives to Save the Environment
Several initiatives have been taken worldwide to promote eco-friendly menstrual products and reduce plastic waste. These include:
Menstrual Cup Campaigns
Various organisations have launched campaigns to promote using menstrual cups. The campaign includes educating women about the benefits of using menstrual cups, providing free samples, and conducting awareness programs in schools and colleges.
Reusable Pad Programs
NGOs and other organisations have launched programs to distribute reusable pads to women in developing countries. These programs help reduce plastic waste and promote menstrual hygiene and health.
Sustainable Manufacturing Practices
Many manufacturers have adopted sustainable manufacturing practices to reduce the environmental impact of menstrual products. These practices include using organic and biodegradable materials, minimising waste during production, and using eco-friendly packaging.
‘I was always taught to use pads after I started menstruating. And since the options available were only the regular ones like Stayfree or Whisper, I always used that. But it gave me rashes, and I always felt itchy and uncomfortable. So when I got into living more sustainably, I started looking for more zero-waste options, and menstrual cups are something I found efficient and truly sustainable’.Priya Jain of Greenfeels
Are These A Permanent Solution?
Eco-friendly menstrual products are a promising solution to the environmental impact of disposable menstrual products. While some challenges and potential health issues are associated with their use, one can overcome them with proper education, access, and quality control measures.
‘I used to get rashes from synthetic pads but thought the discomfort and rashes were normal. After five days of my periods, I used to take three extra days to heal the rashes. In 2021, I switched to cotton pads and became conscious about the environment. I washed all my clothes by hand, making the switch easy. The only issue is an inconvenience on days with heavy flow and the laziness of washing it, especially on busy days. I managed it and continued with cloth pads as the pains during my periods disappeared, and there were no side effects’.Namrata Gohain of Kaizen the Label
The Road Ahead
With growing awareness of the environmental impact of disposable menstrual products, more women are turning to sustainable options. However, there is much work to do to ensure that eco-friendly menstrual products are accessible to all women and safe and effective.
Here are some steps to take to promote the use of eco-friendly menstrual products:
More awareness campaigns and educational programs should be conducted to promote eco-friendly menstrual products. These initiatives will help break the cultural stigma surrounding menstruation and inform women about these products’ proper use and benefits.
Efforts must be made to ensure that eco-friendly products are accessible to women, regardless of their economic, cultural, or social status. This can be achieved by making these products more affordable or by providing them for free in schools, health clinics, and other public places. During CSR activities, corporates tend to buy pads from established organisations and donate them to rural people. Why not do this every month and also purchase from reusable cloth pads/menstrual cup suppliers?
There should be strict quality control measures in place to ensure that eco-friendly menstrual products are safe and effective. This can be done by regulating the manufacturing and distribution of these products and by conducting regular testing to ensure that they meet the required standards.
The road ahead for eco-friendly menstrual products looks bright, and with continued efforts and initiatives, we can ensure that all women have access to safe, affordable, and sustainable menstrual products.
The author Meenakshi Girish, a proficient content creator with over four years of experience in writing and speaking. Her expertise in content creation has allowed her to work with multiple national and international companies as a freelancer. Meenakshi is dedicated to bringing brands to life through creative content with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. Her love for literature is evident in her successful Instagram page, where she shares her reviews with her followers. She is a die-hard Potterhead when she is not reading or creating content.