Welcome to the last part of The Ocean Series started by Saathi to help explore menstrual waste, ocean pollution, ocean plastics, and how it impacts us. Previously, in Part-4, we discussed sustainable products, sustainable periods, what makes them expensive, and how they reduce the problem of ocean pollution. This blog will talk about the social injustice and environmental injustice of period poverty and inaccessibility to sustainable menstrual products, and Saathi’s work to address these issues.
Menstruation doesn’t equally affect different sections of society. The privileged sections of society have better access to sanitary pads but not eco-friendly pads. Whereas the underprivileged are still struggling to get hold of basic menstrual products let alone any good product. Only 36% of women in India have access to sanitary pads. Almost 23 million girls in India drop out of school annually due to lack of menstrual management facilities, unavailability of sanitary napkins, and lack of awareness about menstruation issues. Saathi’s model is that urban women purchase Saathi pads online which subsidizes sanitary pads for women in rural areas. This is one of the many ways in which we can increase the accessibility of menstrual products in underserved areas.
Even though menstruators in urban areas can access sanitary pads, they are not good for the body, community, or the environment. Menstruators experience rashes, irritation, and infections due to the plastic and chemicals in pads or unhygienic alternatives to pads. Yet, there are about 21.8 billion disposable pads used per year in India, and the majority of sanitary pads are made of plastics and chemicals. Today, the small percentage of Indian menstruators using sanitary pads are already generating 100,000+ tonnes of sanitary pad waste each year. A figure that could rise to 1,000,000+ tonnes if disposable pads were used by all Indian women of menstruating age.
We discussed in Part-4 how when these conventional pads are burned they release toxic fumes and carbon dioxide into the air. This further brings us to the problem of environmental injustice. Environmental injustice in India is referred to as the unequal exposure of higher levels of chemical pollution stemming from unfair environmental protection to poor and disadvantaged groups of people. Burning plastics can cause bad crop health which in turn leads to heightened food insecurity in poor communities. In Part-3, we talked about how plastics harm our lives be it through their usage or disposal. But, the way it affects the different sections of society shows that the underserved areas take the major blow. The underprivileged sections of society who live near dumpsites are more likely to be affected by this environmental injustice and risks to their health. In the USA, there are studies being conducted right now around the impact but in India, this has not yet been explored. So we can only imagine how much damage has been done given the environmental policies in India are less strict.
At Saathi, we provide a hygienic, effective alternative to improve the lives of these menstruators without creating any negative environmental impact by making sanitary pads that are 100% biodegradable and compostable. As discussed in Part-4, Saathi pads are completely sustainable as they efficiently use natural resources by purchasing agri-waste to create biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads. They decompose within 3-6 months, unlike conventional plastic pads that take 600-800 years to degrade. By replacing plastic and chemical-filled sanitary pads with completely biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads, we are able to reduce considerable amounts of plastic waste and CO2 emissions. Our sanitary pads do not cause any rashes, irritation, or infection as they are chemical-free products. We also create menstrual cups that are cost-efficient and reusable. They are good for the body, community, and environment. We believe that women should have a choice as to which sustainable menstrual products they use.
In this blog, we talked about how different sections of society experience menstruation differently. There are communities that do not have access to basic menstrual products and then there are communities that do have access but not to a good product. We talked about environmental injustice which causes the disadvantaged groups to suffer more from environmental problems like the problem of menstrual plastics or ocean pollution. We discussed how we are solving the problem by creating sustainable products and making them accessible to all sections of society. You can also support change by social ventures like Saathi by using and promoting their products. At Saathi, we are taking a stand against environmental injustice with our biodegradable menstrual pads that help reduce plastic waste and unequal distribution of sanitary pads. We hope this blog opens the conversation about the social and environmental injustice of period poverty and ocean pollution. Comment below about what you learn from this blog. #SaathiOceanSeries
In this series, we have explored how ocean pollution and sustainable menstruation are connected from a variety of angles. We have discussed ocean pollution, the problem of menstrual plastics, plastic pollution, social injustice, and environmental injustice. We talked about a lot of scary facts but if we know them then we can do something about them. We also put forward a few solutions like switching to sustainable products and hence opening the conversation for all. Because it takes time and effort to make a change.
Thank you for staying connected with us till the end of our series. As you know the hashtag of this series is #SaathiOceanSeries (SOS), it’s a call for everyone reading this to join us in being part of the solution. Everyone has a role to play, we are taking responsibility as manufacturers and we need to rethink how we act as consumers to create a more secular and sustainable future.
- The Ocean blog series - Part 1 to 5
- Environmental injustice
- Impact of sanitary pads on global sustainability
- Internship at Saathi - Experience Sharing
- How to Choose Which Menstrual Product is Right for Me?
Saathi, an award-winning social venture has patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. It is known for its 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made from banana and bamboo fibers. Saathi pads are better for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to make products sustainably and responsibly.
We are recognized by the New York Times Climate Hub, UNESCO Green Citizens project, University of St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation, and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact, and sustainable work. We are working towards 8 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).