Menstrual hygiene is something the nation is concentrating broadly on in terms of women’s health. But the government endorses sanitary napkins in a widespread manner.
The napkins are made from plastic. Each conventional sanitary pad contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags. A thorough scientific study about the ingredients involved in the creation of disposable napkins is alarming. Better attention needs to be paid for the elimination of hazardous pads causing a threat to both the environment and women’s health.
According to studies, an estimate of 9,000 tons of sanitary waste (432 million pads) is generated annually in India. The data provided by Menstrual Health Alliance, India states that 45% of the menstrual waste collected across the country primarily consist of sanitary napkins. Menstrual waste is disposed along with routine household waste and ultimately floats in the sea. These wastes are non-degradable and remain unattended.
India has a messy deal with napkin disposal. Incinerators are the favoured option in schools and workplaces. But their environmental impact is questionable. Similarly, the government’s propensity to foster corporate companies which sell sanitary pads is also predictable. The consequences of the content used inside them are ignored. The wrong product is promoted to a remote population.
At present, a menstrual cup is the best available solution. But menstrual awareness programmes often fail to speak of them. Of course, the market sells bio-degradable napkins; yet, most women find them too expensive. Better environmentally-driven menstrual awareness campaigns need to be created to bring attention to menstrual cups. As this serious issue concerns the nation’s health, the system must not pander to the corporates. We need to start promoting the right products before it’s too late.