Have you ever seen how people go through your trash?

Well, they do.

Due to poor service delivery in some places in Zimbabwe, garbage can lie unattended to for days if not weeks. This leads to dogs ripping through the trash which litters the street and the community and ultimately the country as a whole. Some people have resorted to placing heavy rocks to make sure that the bin doesn’t topple over but that is not full-proof. Here in Harare residents are erecting these iron structures outside their gates where they place their trash far from the reach of the canines and felines.

Even when your trash is collected on time, there are people at the dump sites that make a living out of scrounging through your trash. As unhygienic as that sounds, it’s happening. During my time at Miss Earth Zimbabwe, I visited the dumpsite with one of the pageant’s contestants. I took a couple of pictures but security made me delete them. You need high level clearance to take pictures there. We met people of all ages that scrounge through the garbage for all sorts of useful junk. This one guy makes a living from picking up plastic at the dumpsite and turning it into plastic animal statues.

Now you’re thinking of all the gross things that you threw away.

For women it’s different, we need to consider the disposal of our sanitary wear.

When I was in primary school, we had an incenarator. In Grade 5, you’d move to a new set of toilets that had incenarators. They taught us how to effectively and discreetly dispose of soiled sanitary wear. The incenarator is like a furnace that would burn your sanitary wear never to pop up again. It was a great way of getting rid of used pads. Nowadays I don’t see toilets that have incenarators. How are young girls disposing of their used sanitary wear?

Most public toilets have a bin specifically for sanitary wear. Some will even go as far as to provide the little plastic bags for you to wrap your pads in before placing them in the bin. But does that mean for me to get rid of my pads I must travel all the way into town to throw them away securely? Surely there must be another way that doesn’t end up with my dirty pads strewn all across the street. Note that dogs are carnivores, they smell blood and assume that its meat.

What must happen now?

Well, the issues that need to be addressed lie in the hands of the country’s policy makers. We need more efficient service delivery to start. Trash must be collected in a timely fashion. We need new ways of handling the trash crisis. Yes, it’s a crisis. Last timeI checked, the landfill where all the trash goes is almost full. We need to start teaching people to recycle. This starts with separation at source, the source being the home. Each home must start to sort its trash according to glass, paper and biodegradable. The first two can be recycled whereas the last will go back into the earth without harming it. Once the trash is sorted, at least even the scroungers will pick up the trash that’s useful to them without having to sort through all of it. The unemployment rate needs to be addressed to deter people from resorting to these unhygienic income generating activities.

While conducting research on this topic, respondents stated how some of them wash the used pads before disposing of them, some girls have resorted to reusable pads instead of disposable ones. Reusable pads are cost efficient and washable for reuse. They are made of fabric instead of plastic. Some girls use menstruation cups and the ones that use tampons and disposable pads often burn them in the yard but pointed out that pads are hard to completely burn and get rid of.

What are some of the ways that women can dispose of used sanitary wear?