Menstrual waste, whether it’s at home in India or on a global scale, poses a complex sanitation problem. As plastic, non-biodegradable, one-use period products become more popular with menstruators, our landfills are now becoming polluted with them. Here’s a look at some of the ways that menstrual waste impacts our environment’s health.
Estimates state that the average woman will generate up to 125 kilograms of menstrual waste during her lifetime. That’s over 3 kilos every year. If every menstruator had access to wasteful one-use period products, we would see a dramatic increase in the amount of menstrual waste India would need to manage on a yearly basis. However, due to period poverty, these numbers aren’t that high. (And that’s only bittersweet at best.) But all hope is not lost.
As more environment-conscious period product manufacturers enter the market, we’ve seen an increase in the number of menstruators who opt for more sustainable options. Depending on factors such as income, comfort, and even basic amenities like running water and private bathrooms, there are now more hygienic and environmentally-friendly sanitary solutions than ever before. In fact, in a 2011 study, 91% of women who were given a menstrual cup stated that they would continue to use it and would even recommend the cup to others. Nevertheless, the bottom line is this: no matter what you’re comfortable with, there is probably a more sustainable option out there for you. It may just take some time and patience to find the right fit.
If you’re searching for the perfect green period product for you, one crucial aspect to consider is the number of years the product will take to decompose. Studies show that plastic-based pads include around four bags’ worth of plastic, taking them 500 to 800 years to decompose. In contrast, a menstrual cup can be used for 10 years if properly taken care of and, most importantly, is recyclable once it reaches the end of its life. Take the time to do some research your preferred menstrual product’s impacts on your health, wallet, and the environment. You might just find a product that is healthier for both you and our planet.