Why must your sanitary napkin leave a plastic burden on the earth?
On one hand, only about 58% of Indian women use hygienic menstruation products; leaving the rest at a risk of infection. On the other, pushing more Indians to adopt commercial sanitary napkins – which are loaded with dioxins, plastics and chemicals – will only harm their bodies and the planet.
Used sanitary napkins contribute 9,000 tonnes of waste to landfills in India every year, are a huge health hazard for waste-collectors, and take 500 to 800 years to decompose. So what’s the solution? Eco-friendly sanitary pads, naturally.
Made from natural products, these decompose within months and are kinder to your body too. But if you’d like to go further, there are also cloth pads, which can be washed and reused for years. But do Indian women know about these?
In an online survey of 503 women done by the students of the international youth organization Enactus (at Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi), 62% women were NOT aware of harmful chemicals in commercial sanitary napkins, and 42% had never heard of eco-friendly options. Yet 90% had faced discomfort while using disposable pads at some point, and 74% were concerned about their environmental impact.
The good news is that 87% said they would be willing to try reusable cloth napkins, or use them already.
On International Women’s Day this year, the Indian government announced the launch of 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins called Suvidha, to be sold at a cost of Rs 2.50 each at 3,200 generic drug stores across the country from May. Until they arrive, there are other low-cost options such as Anandi and Sakhi in rural areas.
Last month, eShe carried an article on Carmesi 100% biodegradable premium pads. This month we bring you more brands, plus recyclable pads that can be washed and reused.
You have no more excuse to keep polluting the planet!
Made of raw materials of corn and bamboo fibre, which have natural sterilisation effects, Heyday napkins are antibacterial and eco-friendly. The soft top sheet allows your skin to breathe, and the plant-based waterproof backing and wide hip guards make it leak-proof. Both napkin and cover decompose in six months after disposal. Completely chemical-free, these very popular pads have seven super-absorbent core sheets and wings. They come in two varieties and are available on subscription.
Price: Rs 11 per pad onwards. Shop at: Heydaycare.com
These pads use agro-waste like banana fibre instead of chlorine-bleached wood pulp, plastic or cotton. These highly absorbent, perfume-free pads can decompose six months after disposal, and nearly all of the waste produced in the Saathi manufacturing facility is also biodegradable and compostable. In addition, every time you purchase a Saathi pad, pads are simultaneously gifted to women in rural communities via their #OneMillionPads program in rural Jharkhand. It is available only in XL size.
Price: Rs 22.25 per pad. Shop at: Saathipads.com
Eco Femme (reusable)
These are reusable sanitary napkins made of organic cotton that come in attractive colours and can last for years if used well. Made by a women-led social enterprise based in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, these pads are not only helping women consume and dispose less plastic but also giving customers an avenue to help less fortunate women in rural areas.
Every time you buy a napkin set, you’re given an option to pay extra so that a village woman can get similar pads at subsidized costs. The idea is to demonstrate how business and social responsibility can go hand in hand, and to create environmental and social change through healthy and sustainable menstrual practices. Eco Femme pads and pantyliners are available in various packages.
Price: Rs 245 per pad onwards. Shop at: Ecofemme.org
These pads are ideal for nighttime since they are longer and wider than regular ones, and come with a 100% natural cotton cover for maximum comfort and no itching. They are chemical-free, unscented, hypo-allergenic and come with a silver ion chip that is supposed to provide anti-fungal and anti-bacterial benefits.
Designed in India and made in Italy with 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, these pads are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, ultra-thin and highly absorbent. They have a plant-based waterproof back-sheet and wrapper for easy disposal. Made without any chemicals, they are pH compatible and safe on the skin. Available in packs of 10 individually wrapped pads.
Soch cloth pads are made of high quality microfibres, combed cotton and a leak-proof layer. The wings at the side have snap buttons to keep the cloth pad in place. They come in different sizes for petite to plus-sized women, and can also be used for post-partum bleeding and light incontinence.