Why you should care
There are about 46.2 million menstruators in India that use disposable sanitary products. They throw away over 7 million sanitary products every year.
A disposable sanitary napkin takes 500 years to degrade. This means that every single sanitary napkin ever manufactured still exists today.
Disposable products contain harmful chemicals such as bleach and dioxins that may lead to irritation and infections in the short term and lifestyle disorders and cervical cancer in the long term.
India lacks the infrastructure to ensure proper incineration of sanitary products hence these dioxins are released into the soil and air if they are burnt at temperatures less than 800-degree celsius.
Know your options
We've compiled everything you need to know about the reusable menstrual options that are taking India by storm. Click on each product to learn more about its benefits, how to use it, where to buy and what we recommend.
A menstrual cup sits inside your vagina like a tampon. You remove it once every 8-12 hours, empty, wash and re-insert it. Unlike a tampon, a cup has negligible chances of TSS. One cup is all you need and it lasts almost 10 years.
A modern twist to the age-old wisdom of letting nothing but gentle cotton touch your most sensitive areas. Modern cloth pads come with modern conveniences like wings and leakproof layers.
Inter-labia pads are worn between the labia - the outer folds of the vagina. They are used in conjunction with cloth pads on heavy-flow days as they absorb the "gush", so you can use your cloth pads for longer without changing.
Period panties are meant for those days to help capture leaks and stay worry-free. They can be used alone or in conjunction with menstrual cups. Period panties come with insets that can be changed and are leak-proof.
Do your math
An average person menstruates for about 30 years. A menstrual cup that costs about Rs. 1000 lasts 10 years. A full-cycle cloth pad kit that costs about Rs. 1500 lasts about 3 years. The disposable sanitary pads set you back by Rs. 165 each month, roughly Rs. 2000 each year. This is how the options stack against each other.
When it comes to disposable pads, stacking seems to be the right word!
Watch this powerful video to see how our monthly periods contribute to the mounds of garbage piling up in our cities, clogging our drains, polluting our environment and ruining the health of our fellow citizens who do the kind of inhuman work no one should have to do. It's hypocritical to complain about the state of affairs without doing what's within our power. Getting rid of disposable sanitary napkins is the least you can do. Be smart. Be responsible.
What menstruators say
I learnt about the menstrual cup in the U.K. in 2006 while I was looking for healthier and sports-friendly alternatives to sanitary pads. Totally thrilled about the idea, I decided to give it a try. It took me 2 days to get the hang of it, but then there was no looking back. It is easy to use, super hygienic, eco-friendly, comfortable, cost-effective and a healthy alternative! I started using cloth pantyliners and pads about a year ago. They are great for women who refuse to insert “foreign” objects in their hoo-haa! Cloth pads will take 1-2 cycles for you to get used to them, but they are much cooler than what you imagine. They don’t smell like disposables, feel super soft against the skin and are easy to wash. Make the switch ladies, you won’t regret it.
- Priyanka N Jain