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Sanitary pads are such a lifesaver during our periods, providing comfort and making our lives easier. But hey, have you ever thought about what happens to those pads once we toss them away? Turns out, they create a huge mess for the environment! They take ages to break down, eventually ending up in landfills and causing plastic pollution. Not cool, right? But guess what? We’ve got some awesome yet eco-friendly solutions to tackle this issue! In this article, we will discover how to dispose of sanitary pads without harming the environment. 

Sanitary Napkins Disposal Concerns 

  • The Plastic Problem

Have you ever stopped to think about the environmental mess those regular sanitary pads create? It’s mind-boggling! You see, they’re made of plastic, and guess what? It takes 250-800 years for them to break down, causing a massive plastic pollution crisis. 

In India, an average woman uses around 11,400 pads in her lifetime and a staggering 12.3 billion non-biodegradable sanitary pads are discarded annually, amounting to 113,000 tonnes of waste. This data, from Toxics Link, emphasises the urgency of addressing menstrual product disposal. 

  • Landfill Accumulation

The improper disposal of used sanitary pads leads to their accumulation in landfills. Since these pads do not biodegrade, they take up space for many years, adding to the ever-increasing waste problem. Additionally, landfill leachate can contaminate soil and water, further impacting the environment.

  • Health Hazards For Menstruating Women 

Many conventional sanitary pads contain synthetic materials, plastics, phthalates and chemical additives, which can be harsh on the skin. Prolonged use of such pads may lead to skin irritation, rashes, and other allergic reactions. The plastic layers in these pads can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for bacteria, potentially causing infections and discomfort during menstruation.

  • Health Risks for Waste Pickers

Waste pickers, those unsung heroes who collect recyclables from our trash, face a real health hazard when dealing with non-biodegradable sanitary pads. The problem is, they often handle all that waste, including used pads, without any protective gear.

And here’s the scary part – those pads contain harmful chemicals and nasty pathogens that can spell trouble for the waste pickers’ health. The result? Respiratory issues, skin problems, and other illnesses that nobody should have to deal with.

Eco-Friendly Disposal Methods for Sanitary Pads

Composting

Composting is a natural and eco-friendly way to dispose of organic materials. Some modern sanitary pads are compostable, meaning they can decompose naturally under the right conditions. Proper composting facilities are essential to ensure sanitary pads break down without causing harm to the environment.

Incineration

Incineration is another best way to dispose of sanitary pads in an eco-friendly manner. It involves burning the used pads at high temperatures, converting them into ash and energy. However, this method requires specialised incineration facilities to avoid releasing harmful toxins into the air.

Sanitary Pad Disposal Bags

If you do not have access to composting or incineration facilities and are wondering how to dispose of sanitary pads at home? First, ensure to use a separate bin while disposing the pads instead of flushing them in the toilet. These bags hold used pads securely, preventing leakage and odours. After disposal, the bags can break down naturally, reducing their impact on the environment. 

Biodegradable Sanitary Pads

Using biodegradable sanitary pads is a proactive step towards reducing

the environmental and health hazards associated with non-biodegradable pads. Biodegradable pads are made from plant-based materials that break down relatively quickly after disposal, minimising their contribution to plastic pollution.

The Importance of Educating About Eco-Friendly Disposal

Raising awareness about sanitary waste disposal methods is crucial to combat the environmental challenges posed by conventional sanitary pads. It is not only about protecting the environment but also safeguarding human health, including waste pickers. Educating individuals about the benefits of composting, incineration, and biodegradable pads can encourage them to make sustainable choices and promote responsible waste management practices.

Conclusion

Sanitary napkin disposal in an eco-friendly manner is crucial to protect both the environment and human health. The adverse effects of non-biodegradable pads on the environment, especially plastic pollution, are well-documented, but we must also consider the health risks faced by waste pickers. By adopting composting, incineration, or using biodegradable pads, individuals can make a positive impact on the environment while safeguarding their own well-being and that of the waste pickers.

As consumers, we have the power to choose eco-friendly menstrual products and responsibly dispose of them. Embracing sustainable menstrual waste management not only helps to create a cleaner and greener environment but also supports the livelihoods and health of those involved in waste collection.

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