44,125 million kilos of menstrual waste, are we really acknowledging this number?

Proper Menstrual waste disposal is as important as menstrual hygiene. Know how to deal with menstrual waste here

Bleeding is not a problem, nor is the usage of menstrual products. The problem occurs with the usage of wrong menstrual products and poor disposal of the same.

Women, on an average, bleed for at least 4-7 days a month. As per the data obtained by the Ministry of Health, there are 355 million women who are generating menstrual waste. While many of them don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products, the majority is the one which uses sanitary napkins. In an average period cycle, a woman uses around 8-10 sanitary napkins or more. With this stat, a single woman can generate around 125 Kgs of menstrual waste, that is non-biodegradable, in a year alone. According to reports by  NDTV, there are nearly 44,125 million kilos of menstrual waste and it might take about 500 – 800 years to decompose that.

The UNICEF guidelines of Menstrual Health and Hygiene suggests that effective menstrual hygiene management is when menstrual material can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of menstruation period and the menstruators should have the right and access to adequate facilities to dispose of the used menstrual management products.

Considering this statement and the openness and awareness around menstruation in India, women in India neither have access to adequate hygiene facilities nor awareness of how to dispose of the used menstrual products. In rural India, not all women have knowledge of adequate menstrual products. They often use cloth, ashes or even plastic to control their period flow. While the other section that has awareness, certainly forgets to think what will happen to the waste that has been shelled in their menstruating days. When most of the women use sanitary napkins, the disposal of it becomes a problem as the pad itself contains plastic while women also wrap it in an unorganised manner with layers of polyethene. Plastic being a non-biodegradable waste leads to health and environmental hazards. Many even flush it leading to problems in the drainage system and infections to the sanitation workers.

Now, there is not really a thing like menstrual waste can’t be reduced and there is no other alternative to using sanitary napkins or the one we have are not safe or hygienic. Yet, before we move towards alternatives of sanitary napkins, let’s see what type of sanitary napkins can be used and what is the right way to dispose of it.


Read more: 5 Home remedies to regulate the period flow

Switching to eco-friendly sanitary napkins

Now, there are a hundred of sanitary napkins available in the market which are eco-friendly, easy to use and hygienic. These pads don’t release any toxins that are harmful to nature and are completely biodegradable. So, this time, when you choose to buy menstrual pads, try to do a bit of research and googling to find out the best eco-friendly sanitary napkin for yourself. And yes, trust us, they are not very expensive.


Disposing of the sanitary napkin

The picture above shows the right way to dispose of the sanitary napkin. It should be kept in mind that they are not using any plastic for disposal. Marking the waste with a red dot will be an even more effective way.  Also, at home, women must try to keep the sanitary waste separately from the regular waste and ensure that it doesn’t get mixed with liquid waste.

Alternatives to using Sanitary napkins by either reducing or using reusable menstrual hygiene products

Using Tampons – Using tampons is certainly a safe way to reduce menstrual waste as it is smaller in size and not very hazardous to the environment. Although disposal of the tampons should be done properly taking into consideration, the hygiene of the sanitation staff.

Using Reusable and Biodegradable Pads, Cloth Pads – Now, there are options of cloth pads available in the market. These pads are reusable and hygienic and can be reused for 1-2 years at least. Hence, they are good and definitely a reasonable option to reduce menstrual waste.

Using Menstrual Cups – Using Menstrual cup is again a very good alternative with 0% waste generated. It is simply a cup which a woman can insert in, during her flow and release it once it gets filled and again use it. Although, using a menstrual cup will be a change from the regular sanitary products and it might take time getting accustomed to it, but it is an extremely effective way, and can even last for 6 to 8 years.

Well, it is high time now and thinking for eco-friendly means is not really an option but a necessity. Where every change needs time to adjust with, changing your menstrual hygiene products will also take time, but trust us, it is worth shot and you won’t regret it. Switch to healthy and eco-friendly menstrual and take a step forward in ensuring a healthy environment.


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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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