New Delhi: Taking the whole #PadManChallenge to another level, a group of environment conscious citizens are taking up the challenge and posing with biodegradable sanitary products with an aim to raise awareness on menstrual waste. Using hashtags like #PadManChallenge, #GreenTheRed and #CupAndCloth, these group of volunteers are not only trying to break the silence around the topic of mensuration but are also highlighting the critical issue of menstrual waste, most of which is dumped untreated and is non-biodegradable.
“The #PadManChallenge challenge on social media has already initiated the conversation around periods, which supposedly a stigma in our society. Seeing the enthusiasm of people, we decided to take forward this challenge with a twist. Putting across the message of sanitary waste is as important as making people aware about the menstrual hygiene,” says 32-year-old Rishita Sharma, one of the volunteers from Green The Red campaign.
The original challenge was started by award winning innovator who started the low-cost sanitary pad revolution, Arunachalam Muruganantham. He dared the team of the movie PadMan, which is based on his story, to post a picture on social media with a pad in the hand. The movie co-produced by Twinkle Khanna, stars Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor. The team in turn tagged more stars as part of the challenge and so the campaign spread on social media. Several celebrities like Aamir Khan, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Rajkummar Rao, Olympic Silver medalist in Badminton P V Sindhu and Commonwealth gold medal winner in Wrestling, Geeta Phogat took part in the challenge.
Following the social media buzz around #PadManChallenge, an eco-friendly version of it was initiated under the ‘Green The Red’ initiative. A pan India campaign, this has been started by a group of women volunteers with a goal to spread awareness about sustainable sanitary pads. Under this initiative, the volunteers visit schools, housing societies and corporate houses and give talks on how ditching non-biodegradable sanitary products can go a long way in saving our planet.
The Bengaluru branch of the campaign has been successful in making more than 500 women take up the eco-friendly option in last one year.
It has been over five days since the latest campaign was started and already over 50 people have taken up this challenge and pledged to make the switch.
The message of the eco-friendly version of the #PadManChallenge retains most of the original message of the challenge with one slight tweak, “#PadManChallenge #cupandcloth. Yes that’s a clothpad/cup in my hand & there’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s natural! Period. Menstruation hygiene doesn’t need to be trash and throw. #GreenTheRed.”
Yes that’s a clothpad/cup in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period.
Menstruation hygiene doesn't need to be trash and throw.#GreenTheRed pic.twitter.com/xCMmqyvL8H
— Rishita Sharma (@rsrchani1) February 7, 2018
— Prabha Rajkumar (@PrabhaRajkumar5) February 7, 2018
— Sonal Jain (@wORDEAL) February 7, 2018
— Sindhu (@travelingrao) February 7, 2018
I am holding a reusable cloth Pad and a menstrual cup as I say #notodisposables.This is sustainable alternative, period!! Inviting my friends at @SwmrtBengaluru for the challenge.#PadManChallenge #sustainablemenstruation #greenthered @akshaykumar @mrsfunnybones #saynotolandfill pic.twitter.com/cLsAAY6AOT
— vanimurthy (@vanimurthy) February 5, 2018
— Malini Parmar (She/ her) (@malini2009) February 4, 2018
Even though only 12 per cent of Indian women use sanitary pads, the annual menstrual waste generation is upto 9000 tonnes as 90% of users use pads that are made from non-biodegradable plastic which take years to decompose. And like other kind of wastes, cases of sanitary napkins getting clogged in sewers are also recorded. And since these pads are designed to absorb liquid they expand making it hard for the workers to remove it. The disposal methods are also unpleasant as the sanitary waste is mixed with other kinds of garbage in urban areas.
Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the government is gradually taking steps to address the issue. In an effort to promote scientific disposal of menstrual waste, government authorities like the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Western Railway and Supreme Court and SHE Toilets in some states have installed sanitary napkin incinerators.