The Environmental Impacts of Sanitary Napkins
On average, women lose up to 6-8 teaspoons of blood and use up to 7 pads per period, which is 84 pads every year. What do you think happens to all those pads?
by Vivega Saravana Prabhu
Over the past few years, a new question has arisen regarding sanitary pads and how detrimental they are to the environment.
Sanitary pads have become essential in the lives of many girls and women, however, it is not completely environmentally friendly because of the materials used to create it. According to ScienceDirect, “the average sanitary napkin comprises 48% fluff pulp, 36% PE, PP and PET, 7% adhesives, 6% superabsorbent and 3% release paper”.
Yet, regardless of the environmental impacts, we also have to consider the lives of all the women who depend on this product to survive the dreadful period days.
So here lies the question: Are Sanitary pads truly an issue that needs a rapid solution? Or are there other issues to consider, apart from this, that are more important? And what is my stance on this?
Sanitary Pads are truly an important environmental issue.
As millions of women around the world use and dispose sanitary pads on a daily basis this issue is on the rise by the minute. Furthermore, after use, they normally end up in landfills and multiple other locations polluting the planet. As stated by an article by Standford Magazine, called “Planet-Friendly periods”, “approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year. While many of these products end up in a landfill, others clog sewers”.
With such detrimental results, it is quite obvious that this issue should be taken into consideration as soon as possible. As it is rapidly progressing and causing environmental damages not only in landfill but in other locations around the world, it is quite obvious why this issue is far more serious.
There are other issues that we should focus on more than sanctuary pads.
First of all, in comparison to the 12 billion pads that are discarded, there are 380 million tons of plastic wasted every year, as stated by ourworldindata.org. Hence there are more serious issues we should look into than the damages of sanitary pads.
Moreover, according to storaenso.com, the fluffy plup found in pads are actually biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable. Hence sanitary pads are not entirely nonbiodegradable and most of them end up in landfills more than they do in sewers and other drainages.
My personal thoughts.
I believe that even though sanitary pads impact may be an issue that we are facing right now, I personally don’t think it should be taken as seriously as plastic waste, and hundreds of other issues that are far larger in scale.
Besides, many women are reliant on such products, so it is unreasonable to take them away just because it has a minor harmful impact on the environment. I may be thinking this because I am a woman myself, hence there may be some bias.
Furthermore, I presume it is more appropriate to first approach the larger problems we have at hand, and after solving those we should address the environmental issues of sanitary pads.
Of course, I also don’t think we should ignore this issue completely, but taking large-scope actions such as completely getting rid of them don’t seem as acceptable to me either. Currently, there are some solutions out there that could help us solve this issue, for example other reusable alternatives such as menstrual cups and even reusable pads, as mentioned by Stanford Magazine, can be used.
Sanitary pads which are essential in the lives of millions of women are now considered an environmental risk. Henceforth, instead of taking the extremes we better approach this gradually, step-by-step, to make lives a lot more sustainable.