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Cheaper, eco-friendly alternatives to sanitary pads

It’s high time that women explore other options which are re-usable, cost-effective and comparatively safe.

While the fight for 'No GST on Sanitary pads' goes on, one should consider more efficient and cheaper alternatives that are available in the market. Majority of the women are using sanitary pads, no matter what the cost or consequences, ever since the product launched in the market. The West has already explored this territory and it's time we also try to switch to the alternatives.

"Most women are not aware that the manufacturing process of these sanitary pads involves the use of chlorine dioxide which is an anti-microbial pesticide whose residues comes in contact with the female body while using pads. If you are looking for a healthier alternative you can switch to disposable and reusable choices for your period," says Dr Nupur Gupta, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Well Women clinic in Gurugram.
Here are the top three cheap, safe and effective alternatives to synthetic sanitary pads that one can opt for:
Menstrual Cup – It is a silicone cup that is folded and inserted into the vagina, where it opens up and collects menstrual fluid. It's best when you have heavy periods. The average cup holds about 25-30ml of fluid at a time so it can be worn for up to 12 hours. It should be removed, rinsed and re-inserted as and when required. These small cups are available online and in the markets at a very nominal cost. What's more? Because these cups are free of bleach, artificial fragrances and other chemicals, it is safe for your body and the environment.
For some women, menstrual cups are more difficult to insert and remove than tampons but these difficulties can be solved with education about a woman's own body and insertion techniques. Also, one of the main disadvantages women mentioned was the need to clean the reusable cups, which is easily overcome by using a disposable menstrual cup.
Tampons – It's the most popular choice of protection for women under 41 years of age. This absorbent is being chosen for more physical freedom during periods. It comes in various sizes and absorbency levels. It's recommended changing the tampon in every four to eight hours intervals. But the use of synthetic tampons might increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
Cloth Pads – Reusable menstrual cloth pads are a healthier and eco-friendly replacement for sanitary napkins and tampons. They are made from breathable fabrics and can be rinsed and used as many times. Women with sensitive skin and prone to allergies can prefer this. They are less irritating than disposable pads as its made from cotton, not plastics. The price of this product can vary depending on the shelf life, size and the absorbency level of the product.
On an average, a woman uses up to 16,000 disposable pads and tampons during her lifetime. This creates unnecessary waste which is rapidly harming our environment. According to experts, there are certain benefits of switching to natural and reusable alternatives. Once you switch to biodegradable napkins, your severe cramping will reduce to nil. Reusable products have larger initial cost but they last for years. Whereas, the plastic pads take hundreds of years to decompose.
Recently, actor Dia Mirza made an important revelation and spoke up against the use of sanitary pads due to its non-biodegradable properties. "Sanitary napkins and diapers in our country are polluting the environment on a larger scale and that's why during periods I have stopped using sanitary napkins. Now I use biodegradable napkins that get destroyed 100 percent naturally. The women in India should stop using sanitary napkins and should use secured and biodegradable napkins," said Mirza, the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India.
Every woman who uses sanitary napkins can generate up to 125 kg of non-biodegradable waste through her menstruating years alone. Though there's no official record of it, a survey conducted in 2011 reveals that 9000 tonnes of menstrual waste – mainly used sanitary napkins – is generated in India every month. All this non-biodegradable waste is dumped in landfills, polluting the environment.
This calls for a serious action before menstrual pollution turns into an unavoidable situation.

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