‘Going Green’ During Menstruation: The Pros and Cons of a Sustainable

‘Going Green’ During Menstruation: The Pros and Cons of a Sustainable

Going Green!

The switch to sustainable menstrual products is quickly gaining pace amongst women. Nowadays, ‘going green’ is not merely a trend but also the need of the hour. As global warming and plastic pollution are intensifying, the need to care for our planet is driving responsible and ethical consumerism.

Commercially produced menstrual products are a hidden source of single-use plastic. It can take anywhere from 500 to 800 years to decompose. Also, disposable menstrual pads contain chemicals and fragrance which can cause irritation.

It is not surprising then, that women are turning to alternative menstrual products which are both environmentally friendly (reusable or 100% biodegradable) and comfortable to use.

The average woman menstruates for 30-35 years. A reusable menstrual pad lasts for 5 years and the menstrual cup lasts for 10 years. Anyone considering the sustainable path during menstruation would have to repurchase the cloth pad or cup only a handful of times.

The benefits of using sustainable menstrual products range from saving money in the long run, decreasing one’s carbon footprint, prioritising personal health, supporting local companies and driving business innovation and competition. This stimulates employment and growth in the economy.

While it is mainly the urban, educated women who have the privilege to make informed choices about the products they wish to buy, sustainable menstrual products can effectively address the challenge of period poverty in rural regions/urban slums too. Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products due to financial constraints.

The government should prioritise the distribution of sustainable menstrual products amongst socio-economically backward communities in India. Recently, the Haryana government promised to provide sanitary napkins to school girls and women from BPL (Below Poverty Line) families for a rupee. In Karnataka, the scheme ‘Shuchi’ to provide free sanitary products to adolescent girls was halted due to lack of funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

The challenges of sustainable menstrual products are:

  • The lack of awareness about reusable menstrual products i.e. the cloth pad and menstrual cup in India.

  • Many women hesitate to use reusable menstrual products because of the maintenance/washing of the products. For instance, it is recommended to dry reusable menstrual pads in direct sunlight, but many women feel embarrassed to do so (especially in patriarchal households).

  • On the topic of washing the reusable menstrual products, one should take care to clean their products thoroughly and hygienically — following all the instructions.

  • Biodegradable pads made from organic cotton, bamboo fibre or corn fibre are expensive and difficult to procure.

  • Finding one’s perfect sustainable menstrual product (which works for their body) can take time. Therefore, it is crucial to not be wasteful and buy a product after careful consideration.

The advantages of a sustainable lifestyle are immense, but it is important to raise awareness about reusable menstrual products and educate girls and women about them. Corporates should be encouraged to utilise their CSR funds towards menstrual education and donate free menstrual

We, as humans, derive tremendous benefits from nature which we take for granted. ‘Going green’ requires changing everyday behaviours and ways of thinking which adversely affect the world. Simply put: if sustainability is not the future, we will not have a future.

Ask yourself and the surrounding women, “How Eco-friendly is your period?” Let’s talk about it.