There’s no denying the fact that we as a community have progressed when it comes to being conscious about the environment. An aspect of our sustainable lives that keeps slipping under the radar, is environment-friendly period products. In a very quickly moving world, the smallest areas you make the switch in can have the most significant impact. Here are some reasons why we need to switch away from the traditional manufacturers of sanitary products. And some homegrown brands that can be a greener alternative to our lives!
Here’s how disposable sanitary products impact the environment. ????
Estimation states that the average person will have about 450 periods in their lifetime. This equates to about 10 years. Which translates to a lot of waste overall. Especially, if we’re not conscious about the products we use.
What makes the problem worse is that manufacturers aren’t legally bound to list ingredients on the packaging. But, according to the Women’s Environment Network, your period product of choice could be up to 90% plastic (namely polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyester), which is equivalent to four plastic shopping bags in just one pad.
Another addition to the problem is that from a young age, we’re taught to not talk about our menstrual cycles. We stick to the same products we saw our elder sisters and mothers using, without any questions.
Pads today are the most used period product worldwide, followed by tampons. The main material used in the manufacturing of pads and tampons is cotton, which is an especially water-thirsty plant. And most use non-organic cotton, which has been saturated in pesticides and insecticides. Most tampons contain chemicals such as dioxin, chlorine, and rayon. While the products sit in landfills, these chemicals get soaked up by the earth and are released as pollution into groundwater and air.
What are the alternatives we have? Are they expensive?
The basic green-colored pack of 50 pads costs a little over ₹400 in the market . Here’s our comparison of what other homegrown, organically produced, sustainable products cost.
Branded as, “India’s first certified fully compostable sanitary napkin”. 8 compostable pads cost ₹40, as one of the main goals of Aakar Innovations is to ensure an affordable period, that is also environment-friendly.
“The compostable Anandi pad is produced with locally sourced agriwastes. It is fully compostable and aimed at solving rural and urban disposal issues all while ensuring environmental sustainability.”
The organization has established a sanitary pad production unit that provides sustainable livelihoods, and also maintains health and hygiene standards. The program, however, goes beyond production and aims to provide knowledge and guidance to all stakeholders. This especially includes adolescent girls, so that something as natural as menstruation does not become a thing of shame.
You can place your order by emailing your order to firstname.lastname@example.org
Boondh is yet another environmentally conscious forerunner that believes in women having an affordable and conscious period. Their product, the Boondh Cup, is made of medical-grade silicone that is inert. This means, it doesn’t react with the body, nor does it interfere with the vagina’s health. Whereas, sanitary pads affect the vulva/vaginal area because they work by absorption and suck dry the skin, causing irritation. Additionally, blood does not get exposed to air when collected in a menstrual cup as opposed to a sanitary pad. This means that the foul metallic odor that can happen sometimes can also be avoided.
Boondh also reports that “pads are made of innumerable chemicals including banned carcinogenic herbicides which can also be absorbed through our skin, especially since pad users essentially wear them for 7 years periodically through their menstruating lifetime and this can potentially lead to RTIs, STIs, cervical cancer, etc.”
Cups are comfortable to carry, reusable for up to 10 years, and are a one-time purchase of ₹500 – ₹700 rupees. They can also be used comfortably for swimming and other kinds of sports, without the fear of stains. Their packaging and delivery process uses no plastic either!
The founder for Carmesi, Tanvi Johri, found herself looking for alternatives to sanitary pads after experiencing allergies the first time she got her period. She also wanted a way around how inconvenient pad disposal could be, with the newspapers and polythenes.
Her brand, Carmesi, is an inspired brand that is an all-natural and fully biodegradable sanitary pads that are made out of cornstarch, (yes!) and bamboo fibre. The premium pads also come in completely biodegradable disposal bags, making menstruation a hassle-free experience for women while also safeguarding the planet.
Run with the motive of empowering women, comes Eco-Femme from rural india. Their mission is to reach out to women around the world and promote and revitalize menstrual practices that are healthy, dignified and affordable.
Their work ranges from the areas of education women to producing and promoting cloth washable pads that can last for an approximate of 75 washes. And can prevent on an average, the disposal of about 600 regular pads and tampons. They are now a global phenomenon, from people all across the world ordering their products.
Here’s more on Eco-Femme and how their startup became one of the most socially impactful businesses to come out of India in the past decade. And join the pad revolution here!
The Woman’s Company
This is a one-stop-shop, if we may say so, for all your hygiene needs. The Woman’s Company currently offers six products in the women’s intimate and hygiene space – sanitary pads, panty liners, tampons, menstrual cup, bamboo razor, and pee stick, with a vision to disrupt traditional hygiene and intimate products being used by women.
One of their products, the TWC urination stand, and pee stick, is completely made of recyclable kraft paper and uses no plastic or lamination. It is also ergonomically designed to provide us, users, with comfort along with a sense of environmental responsibility.
Our favorite, however, is their menstrual cup. They can be used for 7-10 years and when done using can just be burnt to ashes as it’s made of medical-grade silicone! They’re available in 2 different sizes and can be accustomed to in just a couple of uses. It can hold up to the same capacity as three tampons and come with an 8-hour protection guarantee. They’re not just a more environmentally conscious alternative to disposable sanitary products, but also a lot more convenient overall, as they are safe and quite effortless!
Their products are priced in the range of Rs 50-800.
They have also replaced the traditional sanitary pad sizes with variations that can be customized according to body types as well as different cycle flows.
These pads aren’t just 100% biodegradable, they are made with an anion (negative ion) strip which suppresses bacteria growth and odor, while also improving blood circulation, immunity against infections, and reproductive health!
They are also infused with medicinal herbs that aid period cramps and maintain the required pH balance, along with leak protection lines on both sides. Their napkins bio-decompose within one year.
Vivanion pads can be purchased in a one-cycle pack of four overnight pads and two panty liners for heavy and light days. A Vivanion pack of 10 costs ₹199.
You can order them over here!