A single woman can generate up to 125 kg of non-biodegradable waste through her menstruating years alone. Knowing this confounding fact, it doesn’t take a genius to do the math to comprehend the waste implications of 355 million women – in India alone – who are generating so much of plastic waste that takes about 500-800 years to decompose.
Menstruation in India has always been an unmentionable subject, from keeping women from entering places of worship, to staying apart from their spouses to even having to resort to hiding pads on the way to washrooms in schools and offices. This month has brought two challenges that has thrown periods and their environmental repercussions into the limelight.
With the first being the #PadManChallenge, started because of the upcoming Bollywood film PadMan. The movie is a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganatham, the man who made indigenous sanitary pads accessible to women in rural parts.
The challenge is simple, all one has to do is hold up a sanitary napkin to show that its not a taboo and that talking about periods is normal, and ofcourse doing what our generation does best – sharing a picture of it on social media. The challenge spread like wildfire with people believing that the sigma associated with talking about menstruation must go.
With Bollywood racing to complete the PadMan challenge they forgot to mention one important detail – that is, the damage they do to the environment. Enter environmentalists, they created a challenge of their own – #sustainablemenstruation.
The propounds of this movement state that while menstruation has been brought out of its dark boudoirs and is now out in the sun, the real question is how to deal with it in an environmentally sustainable manner. They put forward solutions like cloth or reusable napkins, napkins that are made of natural or recycled materials that decompose in 90-120 days, and ofcourse of the “menstrual cup’’.
Dear ladies, now that you don’t have to hide behind the shame and stigma associated with menstruation, I urge you to look at the alternatives mentioned earlier very carefully, yes they may seem strange or unimaginable to you, but do consider them and experiment.
The probability of you finding a solution that will put you at ease and save the environment is exponential. I would like to take the privilege of inviting each and every one of you to accept the #sustainablemenstruation challenge and help us make a difference to the planet we call home.