Buy biodegradable sanitary pads and take action against menstrual waste.

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Menstruation is a sensitive issue, especially with the various taboos attached to it. The government and public efforts happen to be concentrated on propagating awareness on menstrual health and hygiene among women. A lot has been achieved and a lot more remains to be achieved in this area. However, there's something which also needs urgent cognizance and action. The topic of Menstrual Waste can no more be brushed under the carpet to be discussed tomorrow. Especially in these times, when environmental concerns are at peak and people are aware of the hazardous impact non-biodegradable waste could have.

Lets's take an example to understand how much of waste could be generated at individual capacity. For instance (this is entirely an assumption), a girl who is roughly 13 years of age, uses around 7 sanitary napkins for her cycle of 5 days, every month. Thus using 84 pads in a year. If we suppose that her menopause would hit when she is 45, total number of pads used (and disposed) stands at 2688 in these 32 years. If it could be assumed that around 100 grams of waste is produced after every cycle, the menstrual waste generated during this entire time, stands at around 0.0384 tonnes.

There are approximately 375 million girls and women, aged 10-49 years, majority of who experience menstruation every month, according to a survey. The estimation thus, stands at more than 1 lakh tonne, menstrual waste generated in India. Why should this concern us?

Because the sanitary napkins available abundantly at retail shops aren’t made of biodegradable materials and presumably could take around 100 or more years to break down completely through 'natural process' as per various reports. The BMJ published a study on menstrual health hygiene management in 2015 with its setting in India. The report concludes that use of commercial pads is more common among urban girls and the usage is increasing over time.

It thus becomes important for women living in cities and towns, to shift to environment friendly, biodegradable sanitary napkins which must be made available in retail shops at greater numbers and at feasible prices. Popular brands like Whisper (P&G) and Stayfree (Johnson and Johnson) must come up with their own line of more environment friendly sanitary napkins.

More awareness and encouragement to use menstrual cups and tampons is necessary so that women could know about alternatives to sanitary napkins.

Lastly, Government and related concerned people, must fast track the installation of incinerators for proper disposal methods of menstrual waste at urgent basis. We all must do the little we can before the situation worsens and spirals out of hands. 

P.S. Maybe menstruation is a woman's business but surely environment must be everyone's concern. Support of everyone irrespective of gender is necessary, because together we built a better, greener future. 

Do go through the following links to understand the issue in more depth:-

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e010290

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/Chargesheet/why-we-need-a-proper-menstrual-waste-disposal-system/

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/infographics/managing-menstrual-waste-in-india-63356