Period products have remained virtually unchanged for decades, even though over half of the world’s population menstruates. It has been demonstrated that conventional tampons and pads pose a threat to our health, are harmful to the environment, and will cost us thousands of dollars over the course of our lifetimes. Menstrual products generate 28,114 tons of waste annually. Before we cause irreparable harm to our mother earth, we need to put an end to this. The average person who menstruates is estimated to dispose of approximately 400 pounds of period products’ packaging over the course of their lifetime, including single-use pads and plastic-wrapped tampons. It is time to break the cycle and make some changes, starting with switching to sanitary products that don’t leave any waste. Reevaluating your menstrual hygiene products is definitely something to think about, even if you don’t live a zero-waste lifestyle.
In part, girls in countries with low or middle incomes struggle to maintain good menstrual hygiene because they can’t afford sanitary products. In low-income settings, the inability to afford reliable sanitary products prevents girls from achieving their educational goals and achieving gender equality. Additionally, inadequate waste disposal facilities may result in environmental pollution and social embarrassment. For the purpose of menstrual hygiene, the absorption properties of inexpensive biodegradable absorbents (cotton terry cloth, linen, hemp cloth, and bamboo wadding) have been the topic of research since long.
Why not consider using period products that do not add to the waste?
Since there are zero-waste options for almost every aspect of life, it makes sense that health and personal care products have started moving toward zero-waste options. Our enormous waste problem is significantly exacerbated by disposable period products. A person who menstruates will also use between 5,000 and 8,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime. Because conventional menstrual hygiene products are made of plastic and do not degrade in landfills, the majority of them end up as plastic waste. However, switching to zero-waste feminine products is not limited to the issue of waste.
The cost of your period
When examining the lifetime impact of disposable pads and tampons that are only used once, it is abundantly clear that zero-waste solutions are required. The total cost of menstrual products over a lifetime has been revealed by recent studies on the “pink tax.” Period products cost an average of $18,171 per woman who lives in a developed community, including pain relievers, heating pads, birth control, pads, and tampons!
During their fertile years, women experience an average of over 450 periods, spending a total of over 6 years on their period. This amounts to years of exposing delicate skin to the plastics, bleached fibers, fragrances, dioxins, and even pesticides used to make pads and tampons. According to the FDA’s definitions of medical equipment, some of the harmful substances, such as dioxins and furans, are known to disrupt the endocrine system, but they are not required to be listed on the labels of tampons. These chemicals may aggravate cramping and other symptoms of menstruation.
It makes sense that women should choose period products that are less harmful when these adverse effects on health are taken into consideration. People shouldn’t have to spend six years of their lives putting plastic items that contain toxic chemicals into their bodies. Not doing so is also extremely expensive and harmful to the environment.
With plastic-based pads, it is necessary that they are changed frequently to avoid bacterial build-up. Most often, this cannot or does not happen, especially if there are no toilets or privacy available or one is on a long journey with no access to disposal systems.
Harmful to the environment
Sanitary napkins are frequently thrown out into the open, clogging drains and polluting the soil, or into ponds, rivers, and lakes, where they contaminate the organisms that live there. Menstrual waste, which consists of blood and body fluids, is another source of pollution that can lead to deadly diseases, whereas the plastic in sanitary pads does not easily break down. If the blood belongs to an HIV-positive person, rag pickers can easily become infected because they frequently handle these sanitary products with their bare hands.
Pathogens that accumulate in the blood on the pads have the potential to infect not only the soil but also the water supplies in cities and villages, particularly if the water pipes are not properly insulated. The separation of sanitary waste, including menstrual waste, is crucial. Plastic must be disposed of separately following separation, while blood and body fluids must be treated as biomedical waste. One way to dispose of sanitary napkins is through incineration, but the regulations are rarely followed.
Zero-waste sanitary products for the planet
Our goal is to produce zero-waste period products that are economical and safe for the environment. In order to make high-quality pads that will replace plastic ones, we are evaluating a variety of natural products. Jute and bamboo pads have been produced with success thus far. Dr. Khan, an MIT award-winning scientist, created our four-in-one core jute plant sanitary pad, which provides additional protection in addition to providing a comfortable, instantaneously dry, and odorless experience. The pad is made of super absorbent viscose cloth with layers of aired paper and sonali fabric to stop leaks. The Jute pad can be flushed and breaks down in six months, 1200 times faster than plastic pads.
Access to affordable, biodegradable, and non-toxic pads is essential. ZamZam Foundation has created a sanitary pad that is 100 percent compostable and biodegradable. It is made from fiber, which is one of the most absorbent natural fibers and is plentiful. It is an agricultural by-product, unlike cotton or wood pulp, and it does not necessitate the use of additional land. Because they are all-natural pads that do not contain any chemicals, the Eco–Friendly sanitary pads are both more comfortable for the user and safer for them to use. Additionally, they do not contain bleach, which contains dioxins, which have been linked to cancer.
For more information on our products and on-going projects in the way to eradicate period poverty, visit our website.