Women going greener with menstrual cups

City Health

Hassle-free usage, cost-effectiveness and concern for the environment are making more women switch to menstrual cups in India.

Use of sustainable alternatives to tackle “Aunt Flo” is on the rise as more women bid adieu to disposable sanitary products in India, especially Bangalore.

Ashish Malani, co-founder of Shecup, the oldest menstrual cup manufacturer in India says that Bangalore has been one of the company’s largest markets ever since the launch of the product in 2011. He attributes this to the fact that there is a greater degree of acceptance and awareness among users in Bangalore.  “People in Bangalore are more eco-friendly,” he added.

Shecup, one of the few companies to manufacture menstrual cups indigenously has seen growth in demand over the last three years. “Now we sell around 500 Shecups a month, in India, which is mostly due to the fact that menstrual hygiene as a topic has been in the limelight for some time now,” says Malani.

Market Research Future in a report on Global Menstrual Cup Market Research Report- Forecast to 2023 stated that the market will demonstrate a steady Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.6 percent while achieving million dollar growth in the forecast period where India is a huge contributor in the Asia Pacific market.

Although no credible research on the menstrual cup market in India exists, Ashish Malani claims that they enjoy a major share in this small yet growing market on the basis of customer feedback

Rakesh Panchal, Project Development Manager at S. Enterprises, a company that manufactures menstrual cups in Mumbai, says, concerns over the environment are what led him to develop “M’Care”. He added that even though the market is growing, it’s not growing as fast as he expected.

Rakesh feels that India has scope for growth when it comes to feminine hygiene products; however, the very concept of feminine hygiene is convoluted. He further stated that emphasis should be placed on creating awareness rather than turning it into a profit-making business. “We need to advocate for India’s women and girls who are still unaware of the benefits of cups,” he added.

Talking about awareness, Malani said that his company actively takes part in menstrual hygiene camps where they talk about the benefits of feminine hygiene to women in both rural and urban areas. He added that the conversion rates in rural areas are higher than that of urban spaces.

Not only are these soft silicone cups eco-friendly, it is much safer for the human body as well. Dr. Pushpa Latha, MBBS, DGO at Lohitha Hospital says that menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone which is safe for insertion as opposed to tampons or sanitary pads which contain chemicals and can account for vaginal infection as well.

She added that she has been using cups for three years and has been recommending it to her patients for two years now.

Fatema Freya Rehman, a Bangalore based entrepreneur says that she has been using Shecup for over two years and she can’t seem to get enough of it. She says that concerns over the environment and her quest to find hassle-free disposal of menstrual products is what prompted her to use a cup. Freya added that the biggest advantage of the cup is its cost-effectiveness. Similarly, Pooja Parikh, an Ahmedabad based freelance photographer said that using a menstrual cup is easy as well as eco-friendly. She added that the demanding nature of her job leads to travelling when disposable sanitary pads or tampons don’t come in handy.

A study suggests that an average woman uses more than 10,000 sanitary napkins during her reproductive age, most of which contains thin layers of plastic that take more than 500 years to decompose.

Ashish Malani says that emphasis has been put on by NGOs and various governmental schemes to provide affordable sanitary napkins to rural women which bring in the question of waste management in villages. “A menstrual cup does not need all that and it is cost effective as well,” he added.

Bangalore generates 90 metric tonnes of sanitary waste a day which is either sent off to landfills or incinerated. In a quest to reduce the numbers, solid waste expert and co-founder of Stonesoup, Malini Parmar promotes sustainable menstruation and menstrual cups.

Stonesoup sells menstruation cups online where the year old company has been gaining traction says Malini. Like Shecup, Green the Red, a group of eco-activists along with Stonesoup.in are working towards making rural women aware of menstrual cups.

Malini said that as a part of their programme, Stonesoup.in is going to donate 100-250 menstrual cups in Bangalore in the next month.

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