Where does it all go?

Yes, we are talking about your garbage. Not just any garbage. The menstrual waste. Where does it go? It's a bigger issue than we think. Let me give you a detailed idea on

Where does it all go

Periods are a normal biological phenomenon in a woman's body. But sadly, even in the 21st century, an era of openness, it is still taboo. It is even more unfortunate that barely a handful of men truly understand periods. According to Callaly journal, most men learn about periods only after several years of being in a relationship. Hopefully, the talk has started and the liberation of freeing the vagina has budded. There are many men out there who are genuinely trying to understand this and want equality. So the world is not an awful place, after all, I guess. If we set aside the world being a good place, and roses and rainbows, there are periods. Ask the woman near you, it is a pain in the ass. But it’s nature and it is what it is.

Girl with apple on Vagina

We, women, use various sanitary absorbent articles during our periods. Have you ever wondered where does all our waste go? Even if we did think about that, only a few of us understand its hazardous effects on the environment. This article is going to deal with that exact question, where does it go?

"Hashtag Hygiene is important"

Unless you are God's own “little princess”, those 4 to 5 days are terrific. And when it is finally over, you feel like this whole new person. Ha!, mood swings. There is no denying, period days are very uncomfortable. Maybe like you’ve been put inside a grinder or like you're glued to your bed. It does not matter. You have to maintain your hygiene. You have to rush to the toilet every 4 hours to clean up. You cannot do either less or overdo anything. Because the female reproductive system is a sensitive and self-cleansing organ. Using specific products for intimate hygiene or even using too much soap can do damage. There are a lot of hygiene products in the market. Consulting a doctor before using any is always best. During periods, women use various sanitary products, like disposable and reusable pads, tampons or menstrual cups. Further in this article, we are going to see why menstrual cups and reusable pads are better. Click on How to be safe during periods? to know more.


Sanitary Pads

Menstrual Cup collecting blood

It all goes here

In many countries, menstrual waste management is below par. There are even places where it nearly does not exist. There is no proper system for the disposal of pads or tampons. Pads and other sanitary menstrual articles are either flushed in the toilet or thrown in the household garbage bin accompanied by domestic waste. There are only very few places where the washrooms have a working incinerator or separate dustbins for menstrual waste. In the long run, this menstrual waste ends up in landfills or ocean fills or incinerated. Whatever the way of disposal is, it ends up polluting the environment. We have to choose a way where the damage is considerably less.

Landfill with a rag picker

The waste pads from the household are usually sorted by hand by the sanitary workers. This practice can cause infections to the workers. Finally, when this garbage is dumped in landfills, these are pecked or eaten by birds and other stray animals in the area. Since pads contain plastic layers, it is not decomposable. When eaten by animals and birds, it causes serious infections and sometimes become fatal to them. It kills the land and the creatures of the land. Some proportion of this menstrual waste ends up in the seas/oceans/water bodies. It is even worse here. It leads to contamination of the aquatic environment. It kills the phytoplankton and zooplankton, which are the basic level organisms in the food chain. When these get killed, small fish which feed on them will eventually go extinct. And big fish that feed on these small fish also will go extinct over time. This ultimately leads to the extinction of all the other organisms on earth. It’s only about time we get there.

Recycle symbol on a phone

Waste Control and Management

Any drainage system is designed only for urinal and faeces disposal. When pads and tampons are flushed, it clogs the pipes, which is a whole new level of headache for repairs. And it is not the way sanitary waste is disposed of. The total surface area of the earth is around 57,308,738 square miles. Of which 33% is desert, 24% is mountains. Now, we are left with only 43% of habitable land (which includes forest area) With the rising population, it’s hard enough for a person to find a decent place to live and here we are wanting space for garbage.

Logically thinking, it’s quite serious. Reduce, reuse and recycle are not new to us. But do we follow those? The first step to control environmental destruction is to reduce the usage of products that are toxic to the environment. According to the Barcelona metropolitan, a woman in her whole life uses 11,000 sanitary products. Annually, 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are being disposed of. A single pad takes 600 to 800 years to decompose. Well, I will leave the calculations up to you.
Look at the below image for a better understanding and see for yourself the alarming statistics.

Disaster caused by Sanitary Pads. Pads are harmful for nature. The quantity of waste pads generated.
Image created by Sakshi Saxena

Why cups or bio-degradable sanitary pads

This is why reusable products are more eco-friendly. One menstrual cup costs 20$ to 40$ (INR 300 to INR 600 in India) and last for almost 10 years. Reusable pads can also be used for up to 4 years. The menstrual cups are manufactured from medical grade silicone so they can be recycled. Reusable pads are degradable. But that’s not all. Periods cannot stop you anymore from doing your activities because with menstrual cups you can run, swim or even do all those difficult yoga poses without worrying about leakage. The vagina is very elastic and flexible. And virginity has nothing to do with cups. Research shows that out of 10 women who used menstrual cups, 8 find it more comfortable than pads or tampons. Of course, it’s about personal preference but be sure not to let any of these myths keep you from trying these hygiene methods. And keep in mind how beautiful our earth is. It’s too bad to pollute and make it suffer. It’s also our prime responsibility to protect it.

Two women hands holding menstrual cups

Sanitary Pad, blood, menstrual cups, reusable sanitary pads
Another alternative is, you can try bio-degradable sanitary pads. For a detailed post on Bio-degradable sanitary pads, check out this article Top Biodegradable Sanitary Pads in India

Jerolyn S - Author

Any ideas or thoughts or suggestions or feedback? feel free to comment below.

We already have published a detailed article about having safe periods.
If you want just the crisp of it, check out our Instagram post - https://www.instagram.com/p/CPZ0O61tGa5/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 

Or to read the entire article, read it by clicking here - Let's talk about periods

Here are some alternatives you can choose like Bio-degradable Sanitary pads or menstrual cups or tampon. 

Fact File: 


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