In many third-world nations, including Nepal, municipal solid waste management is a significant environmental burden. Governments are facing an urgent need for sustainable solutions as trash production and its negative effects on the environment continue to rise.

The 2.7 tons of plastic garbage produced daily in Nepal is polluting the country’s rivers, forests, streets, and communities, as reported by ICIMOD. The rivers of the Terai area transport plastic trash to India’s Ganges River, which empties into the Bay of Bengal, wreaking havoc on land, water, and marine ecosystems.

Disposable napkins are a major factor in the difficulties of garbage collection. These items are not readily biodegradable because of their composition, which commonly contains ingredients like super absorbent polymers (SAP), non-biodegradable plastic, glue, etc., and may take up to 500–800 years to degrade. However, plastic-containing sanitary pads have a number of problems that endanger human health, the environment, and the welfare of animals. Sanitary pads are a growing problem in terms of both their quantity and the difficulty with which they may be disposed of.

To improve menstrual hygiene and decrease concerns like absenteeism and dropout rates, the government of Nepal implemented the Sanitary Pads (Distribution and Management) Procedure in 2021 to distribute free sanitary pads to teenage females in community schools. For many who could not otherwise afford them, these kits have been a lifesaver.

HECAF 360 polled a sample of schools in Nepal on their menstrual hygiene and waste management practices. We discovered that sanitary napkins were being thrown away in an unsanitary manner, including being flushed down the toilet, burnt in the open on school grounds, or thrown away in the trash.

In response to these problems, HECAF 360 organized a training program on how to make reusable sanitary pads for a group of women in the Lumbini Cultural Municipality and a public awareness campaign on plastic-free sanitary pads in seven public schools.

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