The Connection Between Environmental and Period Poverty
Feminine hygiene is the use of menstrual and vaginal products to maintain health and cleanliness. It is an important and apparent part of a woman’s health.
With hygiene holding importance in a woman’s life, it is essential to learn about female hygiene and the problems surrounding it— such as its lack of access and the environmental impacts.
Lack of Access
Some women can get female hygienic products at their local Walmart, Target, etc. However, millions of women in other countries and the United States lack access to these products. The majority of women in countries like India and regions such as sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to menstrual products.
Only 18% of women in India have access to menstrual products and around 60% are diagnosed with vaginal/urinary diseases and infections due to poor menstrual hygiene (1). Clearly, the lack of access to feminine hygiene products is a global problem for numerous factors— the main one being the high rates hygienic products are priced at.
Because women are not able to afford hygienic products, it can be interfering with their daily lives. Amelia Knisley came out with a story titling that “[t]een girls are missing school because they don't have access to feminine hygiene products” (2). The article talks about how young women in Tennessee are missing school because they cannot afford period products every month. And, although period products are essential, women from Tennesee and globally are still being deprived of a product that they need and should have.
Many women have to choose between hygienic products or food, which a decision that can only end up one way— be without the products and with the food. According to St. Louis University, “[n]early 50 percent of the women surveyed said they had to decide between food and period products due to financial difficulties” in St. Louis (3). Food is a necessity and hygienic products are too. Menstrual products have unfairly become a luxury-based product rather than a need-based product. Female hygienic products are part of a woman’s welfare and should be easily accessible to women around the world.
How to Help
How can we boost the accessibility of feminine products to women?
Donate feminine hygiene products
Visit sites with direct opportunities such as https://www.helpingwomenperiod.org/
Spread the word!
How Hygienic Products Affect the Environment
Feminine hygiene products have a large impact on the environment. The Royal Institute of Technology said that the processing of LDPE in tampons and the plastic back-strip of sanitary napkins create a large negative contribution to global warming (4). Flushing pads, tampons, and other products are also harmful to the environment. Often, they end up in sewers and absorb and expand instead of breaking down.
A sustainable option for menstrual products is Natracare. Natracare is an environmentally responsible brand for period products. They manufacture compostable, biodegradable, and plastic-free pads and tampons (4). Visit them at https://www.natracare.com/