Dear Health Minister, Why are there Plastics & Chemicals in My Menstrual Pad?

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The Bastardization* of Menstruation in India

  • Commercial menstrual pads take 500-800 years to decompose, as they are 90% plastic.
  •  Over 1 billion used-pads (aka Bio-Medical Wastes) are discarded in India per month.

These factors make menstrual pads an environmental hazard.

  • 57.6% of women (15–24 years) are now using menstrual pads, with some use of cloth as well. (77.5% - urban populations, 48.2% - rural counterpart.)
  • Two of the most problematic ingredients used in a commercial non-biodegradable menstrual napkin are Dioxins (bleaching agents) and Superabsorbent Polymers. 

The users (menstruators) and disposers (sanitation workers) of the commercial menstrual pad are being exposed to harmful chemicals, without much regulation. 

  • Indian Menstrual Napkin market is predicted to grow to $522 million (approx. Rs 3,400 crore) by 2020. 

So, there are probably enough funds to invest in advanced technologies for manufacturing biodegradable menstrual products and using bounties of nature optimally. Then what is the issue: Lack of demand or plain greed?

In light of this, this petition seeks to : 

(i) Make MoHFW take cognizance of the need of 355 million menstruators for environment and uteri friendly menstrual pads.  

(ii) To promote the manufacturing of biodegradable and compostable menstrual pads & to draw attention to the unattended menstrual products' safety standards and bio-medical waste management in India.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has recently updated the standard for menstrual pads IS 5404:2019, to ensure the safe use of menstrual pads. But that is not enough. A true resolve will require the convergence of Ministries of Health, Environment, Women and Child Development, Chemicals and Fertilizers and Finance to estimate the investments required and churn out a solid and feasible plan for our dear business-men. 

 And if the country is investing in Swachha Bharat and Safety of its Daughters, then ignoring the needs of its bleeding warriors and bastardizing our misery is no longer an option. 

PLASTIC FREE PERIOD urges menstruators and the policy-makers alike to raise the issue of toxicity in commercial menstrual pads and create awareness. 

Menstrual health is a right, not a commodity.

*Bastardization: change something in such a way as to lower its quality or value

For more information, check out the Plastic Free Period Campaign