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‘A solution to the inevitable; not for sensitive viewer’s’

Date Released: Thu, 18 October 2012 09:18 +0200

Amongst the Grahamstown community and predominantly in the townships we are all faced with pollution, daily. However, a cause of it– severely undermined and barely spoken of–are the non-biodegradable sanitary products.

According to Ethan Greenhart research, in response to his advice column on Spiked  “Billions of sanitary towels and tampons are churned out every year, causing the felling of trees and carbon emissions during their production and further harm to the environment in their long, lingering deaths on one of the world’s already full-up landfills.”

Luckily for many people affected by this, the Rhodes Community Engagement office who are working hand-in hand-with the Rhodes SlutWalk team, RUgreen as well as the ‘Gender Actions Project’ have decided to tackle this rising issue.

According to Lauren O’Brien, ex- vice Chancellor of the ‘Gender Actions project’ at Rhodes University when it comes to the subject of the townships “there is the added difficulty of the predominance of the bucket ablution system” where much of the female sanitary towel pollution is dispersed. Because this system of using buckets as toilets is not justified, let alone healthy, there is more of an opportunity for larger amounts of body released pollution as well as negative effects on the health of the civilians in the area.

The solution? The ‘menstrual cup’.

The ‘menstrual cup’ is a type of cup which is worn inside the vagina, and is cleaned out at the end of the day. This environmentally-friendly product is much more affordable than purchasing pads and tampons on a monthly basis In some cases, because these unconventional products do become more expensive, some women have even resorted to using other materials to keep themselves clean, despite them not actually being the most hygienic option.

In terms of price range, South African brands are selling the menstrual cup at around R260, keeping in mind that they are reusable and can last up to 10 years. Given that it would only be necessary to buy one every 10 years, it would be a great improvement on tampons and pads which are bought monthly and which add to pollution. Significantly, it is worth keeping in mind that an average woman, according to O’brien, will spend “over R260 a year on non-organic tampons”.

Besides the damage that these products have on the environment,t the introduction of a product such as the menstrual cup will allow young women who miss school because they cannot afford sanitary products, to attend.

In addition to the environmental benefits of the ‘menstrual cup’, it is healthier for the body. The introduction of such a cup will decrease the possible side-effects of chemicals which reside in non-organic tampons. One can gather that ‘the menstrual cup’ on the other hand has been proven to be hypo-allergenic.

The issue which arises with the constant increase of waste caused by non-biodegradable   menstrual products can be prevented. Not only will it be a great saving for the women in the poorer areas, but it would also be more hygienic.

 A sensitive issue–yet one that needs to be addressed.  Let’s hope this is a matter which is soon addressed in order to help women, and the environment, everywhere.

Written by: Ameera Najwa Mills

This article was published on Grocott’s Mail