Simran Kapoor, a resident of Mumbai (India), is a doctor by profession and an environmentalist at heart who aims to revolutionise the way people think about menstrual hygiene and its waste management.She believes that sanitary waste management is a crucial piece of the bigger jigsaw, that is combating climate change and managing climate crisis.She strives to support and promote indigenous groups and marginalised communities, who are the most affected my climate change and unfortunately either lack knowledge of proper methods of waste disposal or are exposed to limited resources for the same.She has worked with several Non government organisations and institutions as well as with politicians to effectively educate the masses about menstrual hygiene and the plastic burden it creates due to improper waste disposal. She has also been a part of several beach and river clean ups as she strives to reduce macro as well as micro plastics in the coastal areas.
Based on my work in the field of health and climate, I have understood that the problem lies mainly in the following two areas:First is the Lack of awareness: To combat this I have been organising awareness drives in various slums and institutions in Mumbai, about the importance of menstrual hygiene, the pros and cons of different products available to them as well as the importance of proper disposal of sanitary waste.Second is the Material of pads : Conventional sanitary napkins are made of different layers containing super absorbent polymers, synthetic cotton and plastic for leakproofing. These take several 100 years to decompose.However if women switch to eco-friendly napkins, menstrual cups or learn proper methods of sanitary waste disposal, the plastic burden will decrease tremendously.For this, I have held workshops in various parts of Maharashtra wherein women were taught to make both conventional and cloth pads. They were also explained the benefits of biodegradable menstrual cups that can be used for several years.Being a part of several clean up drives where 1000s of kilos of waste have been cleared, I have witnessed first-hand how sanitary waste ends up polluting our rivers and beaches.To bridge the gap between healthcare and sustainability is what my project seeks to achieve.
I inculcated the habit of efficient waste management and reduced consumption of plastic at home when I was just a little girl. Moreover, water wastage and reckless consumption of electricity have always concerned me and I made sure of being very vocal and proactive about it. Being a part of the medical fraternity eventually led me to working on the project of sustainable sanitary waste management as I inclined towards building a symbiosis between healthcare and climate action.I came up with this initiative in 2020 when I learnt that about 12.3 billion or 113,000 tonnes of used sanitary pads are dumped in landfills in India every year, adding to the already existing plastic pollution in the country. Out of the 12.3 billion, Mumbai accounts for about 0.4 billion sanitary napkins.Use of menstrual hygiene products is closely related to waste disposal. Promotion of disposable napkins with little attention to safe waste management will be detrimental to the environment and to users.Although sanitary waste contributes to a small of annual plastic waste, when large quantities of non-compostable waste ends up in fields and water bodies, it can cause long term deterioration of water and soil.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
I strongly believe that it is important for all of us to have a greater understanding about climate change and the challenges that lie ahead of us in-order to develop inclusive solutions.An active community and a problem-solving, thought-provoking environment is needed to keep the wheels of climate action rolling. This should be complemented by a positive and buoyant approach so as to ensure a significant participation by an elaborate spectrum of groups.