BY ISHITA ROY
We have got more exciting offers! The shopping madness is just beginning, make sure you have your wish-list all set to go! This International Women’s Day, we have something special for you!
*Valid on our Ladies’ Department and selected items only*
Money and Pink-Washing
We all have come across such sale offers via emails. Text messages. On our social media. Or have seen flyers around. All of them on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Where brands want us- the women, to take a break from our busy schedule! Shop, and let our hair down to have fun! Sounds like a good deal. But, is it?
The history of International Women’s Day is much more than brands quite literally “selling” us empowerment. Or telling us how to spend that one specific day. International Women’s Day is a reminder of a long struggle for women’s rights in all spheres. But this has now been patronized by marketing strategies.
Not only are these strategies sexist, but also a reminder that the rest of the days are not for women. These ads further confine the movement to sales. Tell us that Women’s Day is about offers on fashion, clothes, etc. Ignoring the serious issues and the battle that women have to fight daily.
They are the same brands that colour their logos rainbow in June. And immediately changed on 1st July. These brands do not waste their time to jump on the Pride Month bandwagon. Again, by selling Pride through sales and offers, without acknowledging the struggle.
These brands do not really care about the community. They rather support Pride Month for the sake of their market. And at the same time support political figures who are anti-feminist/anti-LGBTQ+.
The brands are simply sabotaging the struggle and pink-washing the movement. Glorifying the struggles with make-up, fashion, and whatnot.
Guilt trip and Greenwashing
There is so much competition in the market that new brands have further taken a step to shame menstruators for choosing “non-biodegradable” menstrual products.
Many brands are suddenly conscious about the environment. Ignoring their own carbon footprint. Propagating the use of “biodegradable” menstrual products.
I am here not trying to dismiss any pro-environmental efforts. Neither am I glorifying waste. However, there is more to the “green-washing” of menstrual products. The marketing strategies of brands target menstruators into using menstrual products that they might not be comfortable with. For the sake of zero waste. But is it really zero waste?
When a sanitary pad reads “eco-friendly” or “biodegradable,” it means it will eventually degrade and become CO2, water, and other organic matter. It does not have an assigned duration.
It can take 5 days. 5 months. 5 years. Or even 500 years. Who knows?
The keyword we should be looking for is “Compostable.” It indicates that the process of composting should start within 180 days of disposal. Therefore, the term “biodegradable” in itself is misleading.
Now the question arises: are “biodegradable” pads really worth the cost?
The answer is simple- No.
A volunteer at Green The Red tried composting used and unused pads. Most of the “biodegradable” pads had lumps while used.
Personally speaking, “biodegradable” pads are not for the heavy-bleeders. When I used them, it did not soak the blood. Even if it were an XL. I had to constantly change my pad every once in a while. And trust me when I say this. It is NOT comfortable to change every now and then.
Health activist Komal Ramdey mentioned the cost difference between “biodegradable” pads and “non-biodegradable” pads. A pack of ten of the “biodegradable” pad costs around Rs. 240 whereas a pack of 48XL “non-biodegradable” pads costs Rs.336.
At such a cost difference, “non-biodegradable” pads will make the cut.
Also, let us not forget that most of the “eco-friendly” options are for the privileged!
In a country like India where only approx. 12% of menstruators have access to sanitary napkins. Everyone can’t afford “biodegradable” pads.
Other alternatives like menstrual cups are again a very privileged option. It not only needs access to private/attached washrooms but also menstrual awareness and sex education. And that is unavailable even in highly reputed educational institutions of urban India. So, forget about the ones in remote areas.
Cloth pads or reusable pads could be an option. However, Dr. Saroj Tucker suggests that just like any other pads, cloth pads also need to be changed within 6 hours. Or else can cause infections. Changing cloth pads is not feasible. You cannot always have access to a washing/drying space when you are out.
There are plenty of ways that can help curb waste. So, why are menstruators targeted, why are their choices questioned?
Pink Tax Is The answer!
For the longest time menstrual products were taxed under luxury items. Whereas these are absolute essentials! Thus, it becomes easy to target luxury products. Though 12% GST for luxury items has been removed from tampons and pads. It will however take a lot to unlearn from what’s been conditioned.
We live in a patriarchal society that tends to avoid the struggle of the suppressed. In this case, menstruators (women and the LGBTQ+ community) have been suppressed for so long that their struggles and choices have been ignored by the shenanigans of marketing strategy.