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  • Mouli Mehra

Period and Sustainability



Are your periods harming the planet?

The most used disposable sanitary products are tampons and sanitary napkins. Women all around the world use these to maintain their hygiene during their periods. But have you ever thought that this medical waste is a nightmare for nature to process?

An average woman menstruates for 40 years which can amount to 200kgs of medical waste each year. Sanitary napkins are neither wet nor dry waste. They are biohazards, but do we know how to dispose them?

There are many reasons to ensure that used sanitary napkins are discarded properly. A soiled sanitary napkin can be smelly and attract flies. The exposed blood also becomes a suitable environment for germs. The first step should be to separate biodegradable waste and biohazards. To avoid the workers from manually separating waste, keep a separate dustbin for biohazards including tampons. Next, you should understand that these kinds of waste are not to be flushed. It can clog pipelines and cause an overflow. Shifting to menstrual cups or reusable pads is the most preferable option to reduce waste. Sanitary pads are prone to hygiene risks as well. Improvisation led to the introduction of SAP to increase absorbency and sanitary pads began to be made of Polypropylene (PP)-based perforated top sheet and polyethylene sheet as a barrier. This improved its functionality. Although these products seem innocuous, they may be laced with dioxins, petrochemicals, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and fragrances. When these chemicals come in contact with sensitive skin, the tissues may become irritated. Dioxins are carcinogenic hence the risk of cancer increases even at very low levels of exposure. Additives such as fragrances, deodorants, absorbency agents, urea and formaldehyde enhance the properties but can cause allergies and skin reactions. Despite this, these methods are commonly used even though they create health hazards. Howbeit, we do it out of need and necessity, menstruators still produce a big chunk of waste. The waste is also not handled well and thrown into landfills. The consumption of sanitary hygiene products should be reduced and we should be willing to change our lifestyle choices. Switching to menstrual cups or reusable pads will help reduce waste production. Menstrual cups come in various sizes and are easy to use. Once inserted the user does not even feel the cup on the inside.

Small methods can create a shift in the production and processing of hazardous waste creating a change in the bigger picture. References Imbue, October 13, 2020. How to dispose of sanitary napkins? (1) How to dispose of sanitary napkins – Imbue Natural Everything You Need to Know About Using Menstrual Cups Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, R.N., CRNA — Written by Annamarya Scaccia — Updated on April 9, 2019 An Overview On Sanitary Napkins. Written by: Anuradha Barman, S D Asagekar & Pooja Katkar Technical textile. net


Image: The Plant that Never blooms


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