It takes around 500 years for sanitary napkins to decompose, generating around 9,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year in India alone - that's 432 million pads in one year. While most environmentally-friendly girls would be appalled at the thought of littering the planet this way, the alternatives have been few to choose from.
With the intent to control the unwarranted plastic waste, a few enterprising women have launched biodegradable organic sanitary napkins that are good for the planet, and the skin.
Speaking with Lifestyle, Depanjali Dalmia, founder of organic sanitary napkin brand Heyday, says, "An average woman spends roughly 6.25 years of her lifetime wearing a pad, which is a very long time. However, eight out of ten women complain of skin problems during their periods, mostly because regular pads are made of 90% plastics, which can be a direct cause of UTIs, yeast infections, rashes, allergies and painful periods."
Similarly, Tanvi Johri, founder of all-natural sanitary napkin brand Carmesi shares, "A major issue that constantly troubled me was the rashes and allergies that I faced with every synthetic sanitary pad brand I tried. As I talked to the women around me about this, I discovered that many could relate to one or the other concern related to use of synthetic pads."
Cotton sanitary napkins turned out to be no better. As Dalmia explains, "Around 26% of the world's pesticide is sprayed on cotton, which can cause hormonal imbalances and even infertility."
Johri adds, "None of the synthetic sanitary pad manufacturers in the market disclose the composition of their sanitary pads." The harmful ingredients include SAP, perfumes and antibacterial agents.
The alternative for both the women was to launch their own brands of sanitary napkins that were free from harmful synthetics and chemicals.
While Heyday is made from organic corn and bamboo fibre, which has thrice the absorbing capacity of cotton, Carmesi is one of the thinnest all-natural pads in the market, made from corn starch and bamboo fibre. Both the brands aim to protect the wearer from rashes, allergies, infections and toxins.
Of course, their price is currently higher than the regular branded options, but many consider it worth spending on. While Heyday sanitary napkins vary from Rs 99 to Rs 104 for seven napkins, Carmesi napkins are priced at Rs 299 for ten napkins. They are available online on their respective websites, Heydaycare.com and Mycarmesi.com, as well as at leading e-shopping portals.
Next for Carmesi is a range of allnatural and biodegradable panty liners, and Heyday will be launching India's first natural baby diaper that is biodegradable, organic and eco-friendly.