“Environmental Impacts of Diapers and Sanitary Pads: What You Need to Know”

Blog Post by : Karun Tyagi

Sanitary pads and diapers are essential products for menstruation hygiene and baby care. These items, however, have a substantial environmental impact that is frequently disregarded. This blog post will take a look at the environmental impact of sanitary pads and diapers, as well as options for making these items more sustainable.

Manufacturing Impact:

Many synthetic materials, like as plastic and chemical additives, are used in the production of sanitary pads and diapers, which have a substantial environmental impact. The following are some specifics on the manufacturing impact:

  • Synthetic materials: Typically, sanitary pads and diapers are constructed from plastic-based materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene. These materials are not biodegradable, which means they do not degrade in the environment and can remain in landfills for hundreds of years. Furthermore, the development of these synthetic materials requires the use of nonrenewable resources such as oil and gas, which contributes to their depletion.
  • Chemical additives: Diapers and sanitary pads contain a variety of chemical additives such as colours, perfumes, antimicrobials and absorbents. These chemicals are not only bad for the environment, but they can also be bad for your health. Certain perfumes used in these items, for example, have been associated to allergic reactions and irritation, while some absorbent substances have been linked to toxic shock syndrome.
  • Energy and water consumption: The manufacture of sanitary pads and diapers necessitates a large quantity of electricity and water. For example, the process of converting plastic pellets into pads or diapers involves tremendous heat and pressure, which necessitates a significant amount of energy. Also, enormous amounts of water are required in the creation of pulp, which is utilised as an absorbent ingredient in diapers.

Waste Generation:

When it comes to waste generation, sanitary pads and diapers have a substantial environmental impact. These are some specifics on the impact of waste generation:

Most sanitary pads and diapers are disposed away in landfills, where they can take hundreds of years to degrade. Some materials are not biodegradable, which means they do not degrade naturally and can persist in the environment for an extended period of time.

Waste volume: The waste volume generated by sanitary pads and diapers is huge. According to estimates, a single woman can use up to 16,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime, while the average child would use approximately 7,000 diapers before toilet training. This results in a substantial amount of waste. Furthermore, disposable diapers are the third most common consumer item in landfills and can take up to 500 years to disintegrate.

Sanitary pads and diapers include a wide range of chemicals, including polymers, synthetic fibres, and colours. As these products are disposed of in landfills, harmful substances are released into the environment, damaging the soil and water.

The garbage generated by sanitary pads and diapers can have a serious impact on wildlife. Plastic garbage can make animals sick or kill them, and it can also entangle and suffocate them.

Emissions of methane: The breakdown of sanitary pads and diapers in landfills contributes to the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Improper disposal of sanitary pads and diapers can lead to sewage blockages and environmental pollution

Microplastic Pollution:

Sanitary pads and diapers can also contribute to microplastic pollution in the environment. These products are typically made of synthetic materials that break down into microplastic particles, which can be harmful to wildlife and human health.

How to make it sustainable ?

Here are some ways to make the use of sanitary pads and diapers more sustainable:

  1. Use eco-friendly alternatives: One of the most effective ways to make the use of sanitary pads and diapers sustainable is to switch to eco-friendly alternatives. Reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups, and biodegradable diapers are some of the alternatives that are available. These products can significantly reduce waste generation and environmental impact.
  2. Choose organic and natural materials: When using disposable pads or diapers, choosing products made from organic and natural materials can help reduce the environmental impact. Look for products made from organic cotton, bamboo, or other sustainable materials.
  3. Dispose of properly: Proper disposal of used sanitary pads and diapers is crucial to reduce the environmental impact. When disposing of disposable products, wrap them securely in biodegradable bags or tissue paper before placing them in the bin. This will help reduce the release of harmful chemicals into the environment.
  4. Choose sustainable brands: Choose brands that use sustainable manufacturing practices and materials. Some companies are now making biodegradable pads and diapers and are also using recycled materials.
  5. Consider composting: Composting sanitary pads and diapers can help reduce waste and provide valuable nutrients for plants. However, this should only be done using products that are biodegradable and compostable, and only in a properly designed composting system.

The environmental impact of sanitary pads and diapers is an increasing concern that must be addressed. We can lessen the environmental impact of these products and protect our world by implementing sustainable behaviours and selecting eco-friendly alternatives. Let us make a concerted effort to choose sustainability and positively effect our environment.

Image Source: The Indian Express


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