Menstrual hygiene is not just about the product we use, but how we dispose of it. Of the tons of garbage produced each day, a part of it is the sanitary waste, predominantly disposable sanitary napkins and diapers. Synthetic Sanitary napkins are mostly non-biodegradable materials. A single sanitary pad is equal to 4 plastic bags and it takes more than 800 years to degrade naturally. Tons of such used synthetic sanitary pads are expelled into the environment through garbage and part of it is being burnt. This ultimately ends up in landfills or water bodies, polluting the Vembanad.
In this backdrop, we work towards the sustainable and ecofriendly alternatives like menstrual cups and cloth pads to get rid of the crisis of sanitary waste and its management and to make the tag green. Awareness camps and workshops have
been organized that aims to educate the women and help to familiarize the sustainable alternatives and reach out to them. CERC s enthusiastic efforts will take Muhamma to crown the first-ever sanitary pad free sustainable menstrual panchayat in the country and thereby spread this message all over the country.
Canals around the Vembanad lake have become major waste dumping places for the people. ATREE and LPF have jointly started a canal rejuvenation campaign at Muhamma, to initiate participatory wetland conservation and spread awareness among stakeholders about the conservation of canals linked to Vembanad lake. As part of the campaign, we created six canal protection forums that have more than 400 members who are representatives of the fishing community, clam collectors, members of public libraries from Muhamma, local sports and art club representatives. With the help of these canal protection forums, we have rejuvenated 10 canals in Muhamma. The project was supported by Muhamma Panchayat, Antrix Corporation and State Wetland Authority Govt of Kerala.
WASTE MANAGEMENT MODEL FOR MUHAMMA
One of the major problems Muhamma panchayath faces is that of solid waste management. The unmanaged waste from the panchayath area ends up in the sensitive Vembanad ecosystem which is already reeling under heavy pressure from the other sectors. This created an urgent need to develop a proper waste management plan for Muhamma to safeguard the wetland system. We joined hands with the panchayat to streamline solid waste management practice in Muhamma. Inorganic waste management is a concern as people are not following proper segregation methods. The inorganic wastes collected by the Harithakarmasena (waste collector) was not fit for recycling due to the improper segregation. Our efforts are to equip the Harithakarmasena through training to segregate plastic waste thus ensuring efficient management.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT USING BLACK SOLDIER FLY LARVAE
With over 60% of the waste generated in India being from organic sources, it’s a far higher necessity than ever to manage the same more effectively. Waste management using black soldier flies larvae (BSFL) or Hermetia Illucens is one such novel technique that can prove to be a boon for a developing country like India. This technology can enable us to achieve a waste reduction of up to 80% by wet weight, thus reducing the costs for waste transport and landfill space requirement drastically.BSFL could be considered the most sustainable protein source as requires 100+ times less water compared to most water-intensive crops, 25 times less feed than cattle, 5 times less feed than chicken, and 1000+ times less space than livestock farming as a whole. Moreover, like a
cherry on the cake, BSFL needs to be just fed any organic waste for raising them, thereby taking a major step ahead as well towards managing India’s biggest waste challenge.
ATREE-CERC has developed a low-cost BSFL Biopod for household organic waste management in Muhamma village, Alappuzha. Pilot dissemination of the developed prototype had been carried out to women groups, which proved out to be a success with surplus yield in stage 1. We plan to expand this to other areas.