BHOPAL: The war against single-use plastics is very much on, and quite rightly, too. According to experts forecast, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans across the world by 2050, many environmentalists have launched anti-plastic campaigns.
Yet, there is one area where around half the population fails to apply this reuse and recycle rule: feminine hygiene products.
Keeping that in mind, an organization of youths in Bhopal is all set to launch a campaign ‘Atmanirbhar Menstruation’ from the Independence Day to free women from plastic-made sanitary pads.
The women, living in slums and villages, will be administered oath to keep away from using plastic pads. Biodegradable pads will be given to them.
They say that plastic sanitary pads are not only harmful for the environment but also for the women using them. They want to promote the use of reusable sanitary napkins made of cloth or other biodegradable materials.
Tanisha Pundit, founder of Ritva Foundation, the organisation running the campaign, told Free Press that they would begin their campaign from Mendora village in the Kolar area from Independence Day and would continue it till the 2021 Independence Day. “Our focus would be on slum clusters in the city and the adjoining villages. We would make the women take a pledge that they would not use plastic pads",said the 18-year-old student of Delhi University.
The idea is to make the women aware of healthy menstrual practices and to tell them why plastic sanitary napkins are bad for them and for the environment. They would also be distributing cloth napkins to them. “In fact, we have been distributing these napkins for some time now in areas on Kolar Road,” she said.
Tanisha said that for want of education and also financial problems, women in slums and in rural areas use old, dirty clothes as absorbents during their periods. This is a very dangerous practice and can cause serious medical complications.
According to Tanisha, doctors approve of use of washable sanitary napkins made of cloth. Many start-ups are already manufacturing eco-friendly sanitary napkins made of bamboo pulp, banana leaves, cloth and other biodegradable material. However, they are costlier than the regular single-use plastic napkins and moreover, are only available online. “Obviously, we cannot expect poor women to order such napkins online. Hence, we are providing cloth napkins to them,” she said.
According to her, the corona pandemic has only worsened the situation. “Earlier, we found that while women were themselves using old clothes, they were providing disposable napkins to their daughters. But when we started visiting the slums and the villages after the lockdown, we discovered that they are not providing safe napkins even to their daughters,” she said. They have seen women using old, soiled curtains to make sanitary napkins for themselves due to not getting sanitary pads or clean clothes in corona times, she said.
Tanisha said that besides Madhya Pradesh, the campaign would be launched from the I-Day in eight other states – Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Odisha.