Posted by: uawcc | March 29, 2008

You may have seen the commercials… the ones describing how girls in South Africa miss school when they have their period and how buying Tampax tampons will help them. There’s also a commercial for Always pads, with a similar message. Imagine having to use rags or newspaper, which is what many of these girls use for their periods.

Procter and Gamble (P&G) has started a program in Africa, where they are donating Always sanitary pads to girls who otherwise would miss several days of school each month due to inadequate menstrual supplies.

But what are the potential problems with donating disposable feminine hygiene products? Well, for starters, there is the environmental impact. In most of these areas, they have no solid waste programs or landfills. In other words, they burn their waste.

As such, products that have synthetic components (like sanitary pads and tampons) would be incinerated. For some schools, P&G is building incinerators near the bathrooms. But what about the pollutants emitted from burning these products? They may potentially get inhaled by the students and teachers. Any additional packaging, plastic or otherwise, would need to be disposed of in the same manner.

What would be a good alternative to help out these girls but without the environmental impact? Since most of these girls are using rags now, having a pad that is a more sophisticated (with a waterproof barrier) may be enough to allow them to participate in school and regular activities. They would still wash the pads as they normally do with the rags, but they would benefit from the extra protection.

Deanna Duke started Goods 4 Girls to provide the link for women wanting to donate hand-sewn menstrual pads to agencies who could provide the means to identify areas of need as well as provide the distribution to the women and girls needing the pads.

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