500 Women In Kerala Village Switch to Menstrual Cups For a Green Future #WATWB
In a region where some 25 per cent of menstruating women still use old clothes and periods are considered a taboo, close to 700 women in Muhamma, a village in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, have publicly renounced the use of synthetic sanitary napkins during menstruation. What’s more, 500 of them have switched to safer options like menstrual cups or cloth pads, while the rest are in the process of adopting it.
It took less than a year for the Muhamma Gram Panchayat to achieve this extraordinary feat under a menstrual hygiene project called ‘Muhammodayam.’
The project was started in March last year by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), a non-profit organisation in collaboration with the gram panchayat. The final goal is to make Muhamma India’s first synthetic sanitary pad-free gram panchayat in the next six months.
Bengaluru-based ATREE predominantly works towards restoring ecology in areas where water pollution is rampant.
As part of their work, they learnt about water clogging in Muhamma in March 2019 and reached the place to lend a helping hand.
The not-for-profit organisation assessed the deplorable plight of water bodies and kickstarted a canal rejuvenation project in Muhamma.
They found heaps of diapers and sanitary pads accumulated in the canal that is connected to Kerala’s longest lake, Vembanad. As per their survey, approximately one lakh pads are generated every month. Instead of putting their focus on the systematic disposal of pads, They decided to get rid of them altogether.
Seeing all the sanitary pads in the canal during the cleaning process was a wake up call to the extent of damage that one sanitary pad is capable of. They are not only bad for the environment but also for animals who chew on them.
While the cloth pad packets are being given at Rs 80 instead of Rs 250, the menstrual cups come at 1/6th of the actual cost.
More than making eco-friendly menstrual hygiene options accessible at affordable prices, it was changing the behavioural pattern that was challenging.
Instead of giving the menstrual cups and cloth pads for free and expecting them to adapt, ATREE first organised an awareness workshop with 30 local ASHA workers and local women in March last year.
When women started using the menstrual cup, their experience was shared with others. Sharing her experience of using the cup, Binisha a local woman said, “I would develop skin rashes from using the regular pads. Finding a hygienic toilet to change pads every six hours was another headache. Besides being cost-effective and environment-friendly, the menstrual cup is very convenient and easy to use.
Like Binisha, close to 700 women stepped out of generation-old societal customs, filled up the form and ordered cloth pads or menstrual cups for a greener future.
Fantastic initiatives like these are an answer to the rising problem of environmental degradation and regions like Muhamma prove that efforts at the individual level can go a long way in bringing about a big difference.
This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly blogging event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase stories of hope and light. This month, I’m helping out as a co-host, along with extraordinary bloggers : Damyanti Biswas,
Lizbeth Hartz, Mary J. Giese and Sylvia Stein, Please hop over to check out their WATWB posts as well as from other WATWB participants for a dose of feel-good to last you a whole month. You’ll be happy you did!
January 31, 2020 11:54 pm|
It’s terrible that used diapers and sanitary napkins end up in the waterways! This initiative is to be commended. I hope it spreads to other places, as well. Thanks for the info!
February 1, 2020 1:21 am|
This truly is great news and quite an accomplishment, Shilpa!
February 1, 2020 2:53 am|
This is amazing! Sounds like the awareness workshop helped a lot. With this kind of success, I hope they use the momentum to tackle the diaper problem. With my second child, I used a diaper service that picked up used cloth diapers and delivered clean ones every week. The cost was similar to the cost of disposable diapers.
February 1, 2020 10:45 am|
What an incredible initiative. Shocking to discover how damaging disposable sanitary pads are to the environment.
I was recently given a sample cloth pad to trial and it’s great. The sample was donated by a Non Profit that runs a very special program here for young teenage girls who aren’t able to attend school when they have their period because they can’t afford to buy pads.
February 1, 2020 11:11 am|
it’s a great initiative to start using cotton pads or menstrual cups. I’ve personally used them & realized that they’re slightly trickier to use but once comfortable they’re hell lot comfortable than sanitary napkins
February 1, 2020 3:06 pm|
Wonderful initiative Shilpa thank you. I hope it gathers strength and that we realise the cost to the environment of diapers and tampons …
Thank you also for co-hosting this month.
February 2, 2020 5:06 pm|
How great to have the courage to make the switch to eco-friendly menstrual cups. It is shocking to see the amount of waste we build up through disposable sanitary pads. These women are a wonderful example to women everywhere. Thank you – I enjoyed reading this.
February 3, 2020 4:05 am|
Disposal of sanitary pads, specially in rural areas is a huge concern. Even back home we had issues as to how to dispose them off. We had to burn them. This is an excellent news. Shows how much can be achieved if we just put our minds to it.
February 3, 2020 12:40 pm|
Stories such fill one with the hope that someday we might achieve what we have set out to do–rid our environment of pollutants that ruin human and animal health as well as that of our planet. I hope such initiatives are encouraged and accepted by every gram panchayat, town, and city in our country.
February 4, 2020 12:05 pm|
How smart and ecologically conscious to switch to eco-friendly menstrual cups. The image of all those pads clogging the waterways is one that will stick with me! How lovely that these women grabbed the problem by the horns and came up with a solution that was better all the way around. Thank you for this wonderful example of good news.
February 5, 2020 1:50 pm|
Using the cup is an excellent initiative. I too had switched some time ago and found them so much more hygienic and easy to use and clean. Plus nothing to burn, dump or dispose of.
Thank you for supporting #WATWB
February 5, 2020 11:54 pm|
That’s inspiring and brings hope!
February 9, 2020 3:44 pm|
I like how both yourself and Damyanti have green options this time around. Go India! Great initiatives. Thanks for all you do Shilpa!
February 10, 2020 11:43 am|
What is amazing is that a once-taboo subject is discussed openly, especially in a state like Kerala. Just shows how much we have progressed.
Not just menstrual cups, anything new will take time for people to become aware of, get adjusted to and comfortable with. The cup is something very personal, and a lot of mindset and perceptions are involved in the process of its adoption.
However, it’s beyond doubt that the cup has a huge advantage in terms not only reducing environmental pollution but also saving money. It is quite possible that one day it might become the default option.
March 3, 2020 10:09 pm|
Menstrual cups are really a great invention for a green future. ATREE foundation is really helping spread awareness for an eco-friendly option with cloth pad and cups. Thanks for sharing about binisha and the foundation that brought such a change in their lives.
March 16, 2020 12:12 pm|
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