“Cup and Cloth” campaign to create awareness on sustainable menstruationRekha Balakrishnan
To increase awareness and focus on menstrual health choices, Green the Red, a group of eco-activists and healthcare professionals will send the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi a kit containing sustainable menstrual products as part of its “Cup and Cloth” campaign.
The objective is to impress upon the need for the government to replace disposable sanitary napkins with reusable menstrual hygiene products in its schemes and programmes.
With increasing focus and attention on menstrual health and hygiene, Green the Red, a group of eco-activists and healthcare professionals has launched a “Cup and Cloth” campaign to bring the government and the nation’s attention to sustainable menstrual choices.
Entrepreneurs who produce “green” menstrual products have each donated either a menstrual cup or cloth pad to the campaign.
The campaign comes at a time when the centre’s Menstrual Hygiene Management - National Guidelines 2015 and actions such as the free distribution of sanitary pads schemes promote disposable products which are contributing to the growing waste management crisis in the country.
As per the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 data, 57 percent of girls and women in the age group 15-25 years have access to hygienic products to manage their menstruation.
It is estimated that a woman uses up to 10,000 sanitary pads during her reproductive age.
It is not a known fact that most sanitary pads contain a lot of plastic, that takes 500-800 years to decompose. While incineration is being proposed as a solution, the costs of scientifically-managed incineration are prohibitive, with bio-medical waste incineration firms charging as much as Rs 22/kg of sanitary waste in Bengaluru. Some women flush down disposable sanitary napkins after use, clogging underground drains.
Dr Meenakshi Bharath, a gynaecologist, and waste management expert said, “Bengaluru alone generates 90 tonnes of menstrual waste per day. Reusable menstrual products like cloth pads and menstrual cups are the right choice from a medical and an environmental perspective. A single cup may last up to 10 years and one cloth pad up to three years.”
Dr Pushpalatha, a gynaecologist, said, “Disposable products also contain chemicals that several women are allergic to and which can be potentially carcinogenic. In fact cloth is a perfectly safe option but the shame attached to menstruation and cultural taboos often lead to its unhygienic maintenance.”
In recent years, sustainable menstrual products have received considerable visibility through the support of celebrities such as former supermodel Milind Soman and actor Kalki Koechlin.