This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Zanhya Aldaine. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Can You Go Green On Your Next Period?

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #MyPeriodStory writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning Amazon vouchers worth ₹2,500! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!

This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

According to Census 2011 population data, around 336 million people in India menstruate. Out of which, only 36% have access to sanitary napkins, which is roughly 121 million. Let’s assume you use four pads a month. That is 48 pads per year. Now the main point- each pad contains about 2.4g of plastic. That means, in order to deal with a very natural process of our body, we end up producing 13939200 kg of plastic waste every year!

How Do We Undo The Waste? 

Biodegradable Pads

The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘periods’ is probably sanitary pads; not even ovaries. Thanks to mainstream media, we are flooded with commercials of pads ensuring us ‘safety and protection’. The term was further normalized with the release of R Balki directed Padman. But what about the ‘safety and protection’ of our environment?

No worries. Many new startups have come to our rescue. From Peesafe to Sirona to Sparkle to Heyday to locally produced handmade pads, all encourage you to go green your next period. They produce pads made up of banana/corn fibre, or pure cotton. Apart from being plastic-free, these brands are also free from harmful chemicals that you have been feeding your little vagina since menarche.

Period Panties

These panties have a special absorbing sheet to soak your blood, similar to reusable cloth pads. They are comfortable like normal panties but need to be changed often according to their soaking capacity.  Read about the latest designs here.

Menstrual Cup

You might have already heard of it. But never tried, right? I understand. I was scared too.

But I realized, a menstrual cup is not a part-time blogger’s ‘life hack’. It’s a scientifically designed product made up of medical-grade silicone, and it’s not as complicated as one might think. All you need to do is, fold it, put it into your vagina, rotate a bit to pop it open, and done! You won’t even feel it. If you do, then you are wearing it wrong.

Chill for the next 12 hours! Then pinch its bottom to get it out, wash it with water, and put it back in. After your cycle, just put the cup in boiling water for some time (don’t burn it!), and it’s ready to be packed until your next cycle.


My Experience With A Menstrual Cup

Pads felt like a frustrating intruder into my fitness journey. I had to skip my workout for six days straight and another three days to recover from the horrible rashes. No need to rant about all the side-effects of pads. We all are well experienced. I ordered a cup hoping it would take away all my woes but, it just refused to go in!

Myth #1: “A good girl never puts her fingers inside her vagina.”

Oh please. It’s my vagina. I put my fingers out of curiosity or full-on masturbate, it’s all up to me! As a virgin, it was challenging for me to get the cup in. First, I had to stretch my muscles which took me days. Initially, you put in one finger; then after a few days, it gets somewhat easier to get in another. Hurts a little, umm… actually more than a little, in the beginning, but all worth it. Don’t get tensed; your vagina is elastic enough to pull a baby out, a cup is just a little thing.

During periods, your vagina is naturally lubricated with blood and mucus. So, with a little effort, I finally made it. (Applause!)

Now it’s your turn to bleed green!

It took me two periods to master the cup. I faced cup leaks (because I always forgot to rotate it inside), the stem hit my labia too much (so I cut it half it’s length) and I had to surf the internet to learn various folding styles.

Cup feels distressing in the beginning (I literally used to cry whenever it refused to go in or come out), but once mastered, it’s the greatest boon.

Also, pads may seem cost-effective but wait! You need to get them supplied every month. In contrast, a cup lasts up to 10 years.

A good quality cup costs between Rs 400-500. On the other hand, a pack of 50 pads will dig up your 300 rupees every freaking year, which equals Rs 3000 in 10 years. (Just a rough estimate. Deep down, we know it takes way more.)

Myth#2: “Hymen and tight vagina are signs of virginity.”

Do I need to explain this?

Myth #3: “You can’t swim during periods.”

Get a cup in, and you can swim, wear your favourite white dress, exercise like crazy, even have sex (Yup! Check out Ziggy Cups by Intimina.)

The huge drawback: Silicone is NOT biodegradable.

However, it is reusable and far, far safer than single-use plastic. Its durability plays an important role in reducing waste. A single cup can last years, saving the energy required for its manufacture, as well as releasing less waste. The best we can do as concerned human beings are to send the cup to a specialized recycling service once it becomes unfit for use.

We must cut off the use of silicone dinnerware and toys as they can be replaced with better sources such as bamboo. But when it comes to menstrual cups, silicone itself serves as a better and greener alternative, at least for now.

A taboo breaker, an environment protector, and provider of the best period experience ever – that’s why I call the menstrual cup a ‘miracle’ for periods. My mother and I have already switched to this miracle. Now it’s your turn to bleed green!

Created by Zanhya Aldaine

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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