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Why PadMan Is Not A SUPERHERO!

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The movie PadMan is releasing and everyone’s talking about it! It’s quite revolutionary of sorts as a movie on Menstruation is released in India and to top it off the protagonist is played by an A-list actor. Going by its trailers, it’s surely going to create a major impact on the female viewers of our country. A country where menstruation is surrounded by a lot of myth and countless culture based taboos.

PadMan is a real-life story of a man who sets out to make affordable sanitary napkins for women who cannot afford to buy commercially available ones and emerged successful in spite of many hurdles he faces. Yes! His story is inspiring and it’s great that a man took so much interest in something which men in our country won’t even acknowledge. All of us appreciate this mans struggles and achievements and truly indebted to him for making menstruation a mainstream topic of discussion but we are overlooking one major aspect concerning sanitary pads here. What is that?  You may ask. Let me explain...

When sanitary napkins were invented they were touted as women’s best friend. More so for working women for whom managing traditional cloth napkins while they were out at work was a messy and inconvenient affair. Sanitary napkins came in as a boon. Just use and throw! 

This is probably the time when disposable culture was setting in the world. Use and throw was a great phrase! It was awesome if it was use and throw, and sanitary napkins fitted perfectly. Women were free now! All they needed were dustbins and the west was full of them. Anything which was use and throw was awesome. There was no need to worry about them once you’ve thrown them.

The sanitary napkins made an advent to India too. Women were thrilled but it took some time initially, as women would hesitate to go to a shop and buy them from a male shopkeeper. But the companies which manufactured sanitary napkins were relentless. Free samples were handed out at schools and young girls never looked back. They didn’t want the lumpy cloth napkins the shiny, light, pocket-sized, aesthetic looking pads was what everyone wanted. Girls who used cloth pads were actually looked down upon for being old-fashioned and millions of women across the world used sanitary napkins without batting an eyelid.

Initially, no one realized the consequences of this. Slowly the consequences emerged.

Sanitary napkins contain a lot of chemicals and plastic. These napkins do not degrade. They have been sitting in landfills for ages and have become a humongous problem. Initially incinerating then was thought to be a solution but it only caused tremendous air pollution.

The sheer amount of waste humans are churning out is huge and sanitary napkins make up a massive chunk of this waste. The world is grappling with solid waste which is building and building. Most oceans are filled with plastic, cities are generating so much waste that landfills aren’t able to accommodate as fast as the waste is being generated. Plastic has been identified as one of the main culprit of all our garbage related woes. Whatever has plastic stays in the landfill for thousands of years. The first toothbrush used by man is still in perfect condition...

So what happens to thousands of tons sanitary waste generated every day? All the plastic in them are still in landfills, water bodies and drains! Sanitary napkins are the leading cause of choked and blocked drains!

Another major problem which most of us have unfortunately ignored is the amount of chemicals and plastic which are present in these innocent looking best friends of women.. Research has now proven the various side effects caused by the chemicals present in these pads. Allergies, rashes, endometriosis, infertility are only a few of the many problems caused by the usage of sanitary napkins. So why are we still using sanitary pads despite them being environmentally hazardous and potentially dangerous to women’s health? Don’t we have alternatives? 

We do have alternatives but most women are unaware of them or take their own health and the environment’s very lightly.

Sanitary napkins are manufactured by huge companies who spend billions on advertising and marketing and it’s not rocket science that a well advertised and marketed product will reach every nook and corner! This movie PadMan, though well intended is going to create a bigger market for sanitary napkins when we should actually be thinking of ditching them for our own sakes.

Environmentally sustainable menstrual hygiene products which are safe options for women have been steadily emerging in the recent times. Many women are realizing that traditional methods of managing Menstruation are far better and safer than risking one's health and trashing the planet in the name of convenience. 

The leader among these products is undoubtedly the Menstrual Cup. It’s a silicone cup used for Menstruation and surprisingly has been around for quite some time.

It’s medically safe and the most sustainable product you can lay your hands on. One cup lasts for about eight years and can be used again and again without adding a single gram of waste on the earth. Sadly big companies aren’t interested in the cups as they aren’t money spinners. Many environmentally conscious social entrepreneurs across the world who want to make a positive impact on our environment are working day and night to spread awareness about these amazing cups. Sports-women, Runners, Executives, Home-makers alike are all rooting for this versatile product which is so easy and sustainable to use. What more? It doesn’t have one single negative side effect on women’s health. 

In fact, people have gotten rid of many menstruation related problems after switching to cups. Physically intensive work has become more manageable during periods for cup users. Most women who have switched to cups haven’t looked back ever since.

Many other menstrual hygiene products like aesthetically designed cloth pads, period panties, and other new sustainable products are emerging regularly. 

The entire female population of our species has to make an informed and conscious decision to ditch chemically hazardous products which are not only unsafe but are ruining our ecosystem too...We have already trashed Mother Earth to irreversible proportions. We now need to get back to sustainable living ways if the next generation needs to have a clean planet to live in. Sanitary pads are among thousands of other disposable products which need to be eliminated completely as soon as possible.

Sadly, PadMan is releasing in times when we actually need to ditch the Pads.

We aren’t taking anything away from the good intentions of the movie or its makers. We salute them for making a bold movie such as PadMan in India.  But sadly we cannot overlook the environmental repercussions of this hazardous product. 

Hope the makers, as well as the audience, realize that it’s time to move on from the Pads and embrace more sustainable and natural ways of managing one of the most natural occurrences in a female’s body. 

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