Half the population menstruates, and yet, there is such a stigma surrounding it. Due to this stigma, we are not talking about good and eco-friendly menstrual products. We have all heard about, used, or been asked to use a menstrual cup. The seemingly daunting silicone cup can actually reduce your individual contribution to waste by tenfold! At such a point where climate change is challenging the future of evolution itself, it is so important to do our part when it comes to the disposable nature of the products we use.
I am going to start by giving some statistics and facts to emphasize my point of how wasteful our sanitary products are! I am going to quote the reports of the Menstrual Health Alliance of India (MHAI), which states that 121 million people who menstruate in India use disposable sanitary napkins. Referencing Feminism in India’s article, sanitary napkins constitute 90% plastic with the plastic, packing, the adhesive, and the other elements, and they are almost equivalent to 4-5 plastic bags each.
Let’s do some quick math here. If we use around 8-9 (we wish!) pads each cycle, an average person disposes of 100 pads in a year, and that equals to roughly 12 billion pads disposed of in a year! These mainly-plastic pads can take anywhere from 600-800 years to decompose. Subsequently, there is no awareness of menstrual waste disposal, because urban or rural, women prefer to wrap and throw away pads in secrecy along with other domestic waste.
Here’s where the discourse about menstrual cups comes in. A small, reusable cup made from silicone in a bell shape, which is often referred to as the ‘more sustainable and reusable version of a tampon’. You insert this cup into your vagina, like a tampon, but instead of absorbing the blood, it just stores it. With sizes to choose from, depending on your age and flow, they can be put in for around 6-10 hours at one go.
The menstrual cup is not just sustainable, but eco friendly too. When you look at the sourcing of just one pad or tampon, you see the cotton sourcing, plastic, and all of it looks like it will not do the environment any good. A menstrual cup, however, is made with medical-grade silicone that could be reused for up to 5 years. More than 500 pads could be substituted by one menstrual cup. The only negative is that since the cup is a new product, there are still developments in water management to be made while cleaning out the cups between uses.
If you are still unconvinced, another great plus is no bad odour. Since the blood does not flow out, it does not come in contact with air, and it doesn’t oxidize, resulting in zero odour. You might have to go through some cycles of trial and error to get used to the cup, but that is better than generating tonnes of menstrual waste. You can also wave goodbye to rashes and itchiness caused by sanitary pads, and say hello to a leak-free period!