The movie Padman and its #Padman Challenge has gone viral, and how. With celebrities to regular individuals posting pictures of themselves holding sanitary pads, it has become a rage, but green activists are seeing red. Their argument: Disposable sanitary pads are not just bad for the environment, but are also harmful for women as they release dioxins that increase the chances of reproductive disorders.
To educate people on green and safe alternatives, men and women alike have been posting pictures holding menstrual cups or cloth pads (or both) over the past couple of days, with the hashtags #Padman Challenge and #CupAndCloth and it has gone viral. In a chat with women in the city, we delve deeper into this issue, even as many a pad lies wasted, thanks to the challenge as well.
City-based entrepreneur Punitha A is definitely a supporter of green activism, “I have used sanitary pads and women can relate to my problems — the discomfort and rashes it causes. The environment too is affected with the number of sanitary pads that are disposed everyday which spoils our environment. I feel that menstrual cups and cloth pads are safer. One should know the right measures to adapt while using it. Change can be brought about only when the mindset changes. In terms of how safe it is, the environment definitely benefits as we are not depositing anything that is non-biodegradable. For women, it also cost-efficient, can be re-used and also there are literally zero chemicals.”
A city-based merchandising manager is shocked that many women in rural areas still do not use pads. Sunitha Albert says, “In this era, where people nationwide are preparing to celebrate Women’s Day and womanhood, it’s shocking to see that around 88 per cent of Indian women do not use sanitary pads due to high prices. The film and media industry are a good medium to spread awareness, not just in film promotion but menstrual hygiene. Although, sanitary pads are a handy option, I feel cloth pads are the safest and best option. Even though the cleaning process is additional, it’s definitely a safe, alternative and environmentally viable solution over pads that destroy the environment.”
Sandalwood actress Sruthi Hariharan was among the many who gladly took the Padman challenge. Sruthi says, “I have taken the Padman challenge, posing with a biodegradable pad that can be reused 75 times! I read an article about how disposing sanitary waste in India is impossible, as there is no right way to do it. It not only harms the environment but also cows and dogs end up feeding on the waste. It is not safe and hygienic, even though we presume it to be. I think it’s time that we all go back to the usage of cloth. It’s important that women are sensitive towards this. There is also another side to this — people are fighting and filing petitions to remove taxes on sanitary napkins but according to me, it’s not necessary when there is a more eco-friendly option like this. Menstrual cups are the best, something that I’m trying to use but biodegradable sanitary pads are the best option.”
Environmentalist Sowmya Reddy has been using cups for nine years, she explains, “After using sanitary pads I think the best thing to do that is sustainable is to use cloth pads and menstrual cups that are good for both the environment as well as women who use them. Cloth pads and menstrual cups are not only comfortable and cost efficient, but also prevent large amount of pads being dumped into landfills.”