What’s In Your Bag? A Bloody Pad!!!
Disclaimer: This piece is just an opinion. It’s not meant to offend anyone or degrade any brand.
A lot of voices were raised when 12% GST was levied on sanitary pads. And why not? Around 70% of women in India still can’t afford sanitary pads. Owing to such protests, the government even launched a low-cost sanitary pad which is claimed to be 100% biodegradable and comes for around Rs.2.50 per piece.
Then we have our ‘Padman’ who struggled for years to make low-cost pads for women who were using cloths and rags during periods.
Also, we cannot ignore the efforts of so many NGOs and social workers who have been going extra miles (literally) to educate women in rural areas about menstrual hygiene, thereby, encouraging them to switch from cloth to pads.
After so much was done to make pads accessible to more and more women (so that they don’t have to use cloth), this whole ‘pad revolution’ seems to be taking a reverse gear, now, with the introduction of Reusable pads.
What is a Reusable Pad?
Reusable pads are made with layers of absorbent fabrics, mostly cotton; cut and stitched in the shape of a pad, some with wings to secure it. These pads are washable and are said to be biodegradable, unlike disposable ones, hence eco-friendly. These are also claimed to last for about 3-5 years. Available in many sizes, prints and colours online, one can purchase these pads for around Rs 250-400 per piece depending on the brand.
Now, the question is- Why should I use it?
-To save the environment?
It’s our responsibility to take care of our environment. Agreed! Disposable pads do not degrade for a long time. Agreed!
However, to save the environment, do I really need to switch to an ‘advanced piece of cloth’ when there are options like biodegradable disposable pads, tampons, and menstrual cups?
-How to Use and Wash?
For use, the process is similar to the disposable ones. Instead of the adhesive on the wings, the reusable ones have buttons or Velcro to secure the pad. The washing part is a bit tricky. The used pad has to be soaked in a bucket of cold water and then it can be hand washed or machine washed before keeping it for drying. (Throwing a used pad in the washing machine!)
So, every time I have to change it, I will have to sit down with a bucket full of water to wash off my discharged blood! There’s no option of feeling lazy, because if you keep the pads to be washed later on, if not entirely, at least some amount of the blood will dry out. And we all know how stubborn dried blood stains are!
-What to do when we are not at home?
Being a working woman, I have to stay out for about 8-9 hours, including the days of heavy flows when I need to change pads at least twice. Same goes for the girls who are in schools or colleges for hours. While travelling, there’s no count.
If I am using a reusable pad on such occasions, what am I supposed to do with the used one after changing? According to the makers, we are supposed to ‘keep’ the ‘used’ pad with ‘us’ or in our bags. Some brands even provide a cute pouch/ bag along with the pads, to carry the used ones.
No matter how cute the pouch is, I just can’t carry a used damp pad in my bag on.
Imagine you are travelling for days with a pile of used pads in your bags!!!!!
-To save money?
As already mentioned, these pads cost around Rs 250-400 per piece. Sounds a lot, but it’s comparatively cheaper than the disposable ones as these can be used for 3-5 years. Buy one pad and you are sorted for years! (Really?).
While attempting to save the environment, can we strike out those women who can’t afford pads?
Of course not! So, let’s consider those women who cannot even afford a packet of pad costing Rs 20-30. Consider an underprivileged family with two female members. Each female needs to have their own set of pads as sharing reusable pads with someone is out of the question. Considering the washing process and the time taken for drying, each female needs to have at least 2-3 pads. So, even if we take the price as Rs 200 per pad, this poor family will have to buy at least 6 pads which will cost them Rs 1200 at a time. Would they pay this much for sanitary pads? Will it be even possible for them to pay this much amount at one purchase? Won’t it be more convenient and affordable for them to use cloths?
-But, it lasts for 3-5 years?
Would you wear the same undergarment for 3-5 years? Does it even last that long?
While browsing reviews from women using reusable pads, it was found that even though they use these pads, they go for the disposable ones when they are travelling or out for hours.
This is exactly my argument. No matter how comfortable, ‘cheaper’, or eco-friendly these reusable pads are, one can’t embrace these as their period BFF. At some point in time, we’ll have to switch to other options even if those are non-biodegradable.
Considering the hectic lifestyle in urban areas and the fact that menstrual hygiene is yet to be a ‘necessity’ in rural areas, the idea of reusable pads do not seem to be making sense at all.
A lot of people are making it, a lot of brands are selling it. Many are buying it. But, is it serving the purpose?