Menstrual Hygiene is a subject that is not openly spoken of in India. This communication gap has caused hazardous implications not only to the health of several women in the country but also to the environment.
With release of the Bollywood movie ‘Padman’, use of sanitary pads and its importance has come into light. Many people are now talking about it. Steps have been taken to make these products available at affordable rates or for free in many schools and offices. The campaigns to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene among the rural women in India have been organised.
However, with rising awareness about the sanitation side of menstruation, waste generation of disposable sanitary products has also increased. According to the government data, about 113,000 tonnes of menstrual waste is generated annually in the country. And the taboos and superstitions surrounding menstruation has made it challenging to install safe disposal methods of these menstrual products.
The disposable sanitary napkins are made of mainly plastic and synthetic chemical components. These are not only hazardous to health but also to the environment as an average sanitary pad after disposal would stay in the environment for 500 years before it starts to degrade.
DCB Bank & Airport Authority of India – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport, Ahmedabad have launched an initiative to install sanitary napkin vending machines at both international and domestic terminals seeks to provide for female travellers a convenient and hygienic facility. The organisations are aiming that through messaging and information dispersal, the best practices to be used for disposal of used sanitary napkins will strengthen.
“It is important that the right means of disposal is adopted to prevent environmental stress on land and water,” said a statement from DCB Bank.
To make the disposal of sanitary napkins easier, V Ramachandran, an electronic engineer from IIT Madras has developed a sanitary napkin incinerator that can burn soiled pads in to ashes within few minutes. The leftover waste generated from the incinerator can either be used as a manure for plants or can be flushed out.
In order to find alternative and environment friendly options, women from a village in Goa have started an initiative to manufacture and sell hygienic biodegradable sanitary pads under the brand name ‘Sakhi’ bio-degradable sanitary pads. These pads are mainly made of pine wood paper. When buried in mud, the pad gets degraded within eight days.
Actress and Socialist Dia Mirza who is also UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India, has also raised her voice towards the cause by committing to not use sanitary pads during her period to reduce the carbon footprint. She has been vocal about the hazards caused by improper disposal of these pads and her decision to switch to bio degradable pads.
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The CSR Journal Team