In the last decade, the buzz around eco-friendly period products has reached fever pitch in India. Indian women now have plenty of options to choose from. This Menstrual Hygiene Day, Priyanka Nagpal Jain, founder, Hygiene and You and SochGreen Reusable Period Products, talks about the various types of period products available in India which are not just safer and better but are also eco-friendly.
What are eco-friendly period products?
Eco-friendly period products refer to the range of reusable period products, including cloth pads, period underwear, labia pads and menstrual cups. On an average, a menstruating woman disposes at least 5,000 sanitary napkins in her lifetime.
As they bank on the concept of zero-waste, reusable period products do not add to the issue of solid waste management. They also come with added risk of infections (if not changed frequently), rashes, itching, and chafing. Manufacturers of disposable period products are not bound by law to disclose the ingredients used in their products. The cotton in sanitary napkins is bleached with chlorine in order to obtain the “flawless white” colour. The use of tampons leaves the vagina dry as tampons not only absorb period blood but all other useful vaginal secretions.
What about biodegradable sanitary pads?
Biodegradable sanitary pads have been offered as a solution to the problems posed by disposable period products in terms of waste management. However, the paucity of space and resources that are required to properly let a biodegradable pad decompose, make this a non-viable and unsustainable solution. Women, mostly end up wrapping them in plastic bags and they end up in the landfill with other waste.
What are the eco-friendly period products available in India?
The conversation around cloth pads is always contentious as it is considered dirty and the root cause of infections. However, cloth pads are not a bad alternative. The problem is when it isn’t dried in a well-ventilated space, it can be a cause for infections. However, if the cloth is washed and dried properly, it can be the most comfortable alternative to sanitary napkins. Modern cloth pads come with wings on the side as well as a leak-proof layer. Cloth pads are an ideal option for young girls as well as women who prefer external period products.
Labia pads are small, leaf-shaped pads that can be worn between the labial lips to direct period flow to the centre of the pad. From daily discharge to additional protection for menstrual flow, labia pads are small, and easy to use.
Period underwear is a product that can be used for a variety of purposes. They look like regular underwear but come with absorbent backing, a leak-proof layer, and inserts. The insert can be changed once every 4-5 hours, while continuing to wear the period underwear the whole day. Period underwear can be used for mild incontinence, menstrual bleeding, and postpartum bleeding or lochia. As all the absorbent and leak-proof layers are sown in together, there is no risk of movement of the pad.
A popular hit among the new generation of women, menstrual cups are small cups made of medical-grade silicone, which sit in the vagina and collect period blood. They only need to be changed once every 8-10 hours (or sooner, depending on the flow) and are highly comfortable to use. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and hardness.