The sanitary industry is taking a big toll on the environment, with billions of sanitary pads and other period products clogging landfills every year. Made up of mostly plastic compounds, these products are wreaking havoc on the natural world, polluting our air and water and putting countless species at risk, in ways we often fail to recognize.
But despite all this, sanitary products often go unnoticed in the public eye. While everyone is up in arms about plastic straws and coffee cups, they seem to be flying under the radar.
Why? Lack of awareness, cultural stigma, and a general aversion to talking about menstruation. But as we become more conscious of the impact our actions have on the environment, we need to start taking a closer look at sanitary products and what they are doing to the world around us, and most importantly, to health and well-being.
There are already some promising developments in this space, with innovative companies coming up with new ways to make sanitary products that are safer for the environment, and also safer for the people who use them. And Sparkle is leading the way by introducing a new line of organic sanitary products that are biodegradable, renewable, with zero plastic microbeads.
Before we look at how Sparkle is addressing these environmental challenges, let's take a look at the broader issues of the sanitary industry and what it means for our planet.
The Sanitary Industry And The Environmental Impacts:
We need to start looking at sanitary products in a new light and examining how they are affecting the environment.
The sanitary industry is a significant contributor to the problem of plastic pollution, due to the widespread use of single-use plastics in menstrual products. Globally, around 300 billion period products are used every year, most of which are made from non-biodegradable plastic materials such as polyethylene and polypropylene.
In India alone, around 150,000 tons of sanitary pad waste is generated every year, and this waste is known to contain toxic chemicals such as dioxins, which are hazardous to human health, as well as microplastics that can have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems.
Ineffective Disposal Mechanism:
The lack of infrastructure to properly dispose of sanitary products is another major environmental issue associated with the use of these products.
Segregation, collection, disposal, and transportation networks for menstrual waste are currently inadequate in many places, resulting in disposal directly into landfill or the ocean. Let's not forget about Incinerating being also a common practice.
In addition to being a source of plastic pollution, improper disposal can lead to the exposure of workers and communities to harmful chemicals released from various materials.
Due to their non-biodegradable nature, sanitary products such as pads and tampons can remain unchanged in a landfill for hundreds or even thousands of years. This contributes significantly to the problem of plastic pollution by adding large amounts of waste materials that take an extremely long time to break down naturally.
Ultimately, this creates significant risks for contamination and harm to wildlife, as well as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions from decaying plastics.
The use of sanitary products can also have significant health impacts, particularly for women who are low-income or experiencing homelessness. In many places, these products are often not covered by public healthcare programs and therefore become unaffordable for many women.
- Plastic: Conventional Pads' breathability is non-existent; the material used to create them is not breathable, so sweat and bacteria buildup that can cause irritation. There is also growing evidence linking certain chemicals in sanitary products with serious health concerns, such as endocrine disruption and increased risk of reproductive issues. For example, pads made from plastic materials can result in exposure to harmful chemicals like BPA, which is linked to hormone disruption and other negative effects on neurological development.
- Artificial Fragrance: Found in tampons and pads, artificial fragrances are often made with a bunch of toxic chemicals. These chemicals can irritate sensitive skin, cause allergic reactions or skin rashes, and even have reproductive health impacts.
- Synthetic Superabsorbents (SAP): This material is found in tampons, pads, and liners. SAP does absorb a lot of fluid into the product, but it also absorbs toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as dioxin (a known carcinogen). These chemicals can be absorbed directly through the skin or from exposure to air due to evaporation.
Sparkle: Greener Sustainable Solution
Keeping the entire product life-cycle in mind, Hetal and Chirag Verani, Co-founders of Sparkle, have created sanitary products that are not only better for the environment, but also healthier and accessible for women everywhere.
Through their commitment to sustainability and mission to improve women's health and well-being, Sparkle has developed a line of products made from sustainable materials that are free from harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances.
“What comes from Nature, finds its way back to Nature.”
Unlike Conventional sanitary products, which are made from synthetic materials and plastics, Sparkle products are made from 100% biodegradable materials such as bamboo. These natural fabrics allow for improved breathability and comfort while reducing the risk of contact dermatitis, a condition that is often associated with prolonged exposure to artificial fragrances or synthetic superabsorbents found in conventional products.
They are also free from harmful chemicals and additives like BPA and dioxin. This ensures that women using these products are not exposed to dangerous toxins that can have negative impacts on their health and well-being.
In addition to protecting the health and safety of women everywhere, Sparkle's sustainable and environmentally-friendly products are also better for the planet, as they break down naturally over time rather than contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution.
Pros of using Sparkle Sanitary Pads
Who thought that good period protection could be eco-friendly too? Sparkle pads are made with all-natural, biodegradable materials like cellulose and non-toxic adhesives, so you can have peace of mind that your period protection is not only plastic-free but also good for the environment. With these home-compostable sanitary napkins, your used pads will break down into organic matter easily, and return to the soil to help keep your garden healthy and thriving.
If you prefer to throw your used pads in the trash, no worries. Sparkle sanitary napkins are designed for safe landfilling as well. With their non-toxic materials and degradable contents, these eco-friendly products will break down quickly and safely, without releasing harmful chemicals into the soil or groundwater.
These innovative sanitary products are designed for safe and effective incineration, emitting fewer toxic chemicals into the environment. Compared to conventional pads made with complex petrochemical-based plastics and other harmful chemicals, Sparkle pads offer a greener and more sustainable alternative. So go ahead and incinerate your period with confidence!
GreenCycle Program: From Linear Economy To Circular Economy
Not only is Sparkle working to develop sustainable, biodegradable, and compostable products but it is also committed to creating a circular economy by designing effective waste management infrastructure.
Through the GreenCycle program, Sparkle aims to develop a large-scale composting infrastructure that will allow used sanitary products to be responsibly and safely disposed of, instead of contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution in landfills and waterways. The goal is to show that it's possible to compost absorbent hygiene products in an industrial setting.
"At the forefront of the sanitary industry, we are focused on creating sustainable and environmentally-friendly products that can be composted at home or in industrial settings. We aim to build a circular system where consumers return used products to us, so that they can be composted properly and contribute back to nature. This approach ensures the security and longevity of our products, while also protecting the environment."
Chirag Varani, Co-Founder Of Sparkle
The Way Forward: Between Choice And Awareness
Despite the health and environmental impacts of sanitary products, many women lack adequate information and support to make informed choices about their menstrual care. There is a strong need for greater awareness about the risks associated with these products and better access to alternative options that are both safer and more sustainable.
By raising awareness about issues like plastic pollution and harmful chemicals in sanitary products, we can help empower women to make informed choices that protect their health while also protecting our environment.