Picking up waste left behind by others on the beach is not the first image that comes to mind when we think about a doctor.
But that is one of the things that Simran Kapoor, a young medical professional from Mumbai, has been doing when she is not attending to patients.
Doctor by profession, environmentalist at heart
According to Simran, she is a doctor by profession and an environmentalist at heart, and keeping the planet clean is her responsibility, too, just like anyone else.
“I was never a conventional medical student who is buried in books all day. I have always been involved in extracurricular activities. And I feel that if you are passionate about something, nothing can stop you,” Simran told Indiatimes.
How it started
After completing her MBBS from MIMER Medical College, Pune, and an internship at JJ hospital, Mumbai, Simran who is currently preparing for her PG, also finds time for various social causes.
“Since I was attending workshops and other meetings on different social causes, I was meeting a lot of people. That is how I was introduced to some people who were involved in beach cleanups in Mumbai on weekends. I also joined them a few times and I really liked it,” she said.
About her stint of more than two years, wherein she has been involved in beach clean-ups, Simran says she has been part of around 30 such drives.
“We have at least one beach clean-up drive a month. It is mostly on the weekends as that is when most people are free. We give call outs on social media and through our friendship and family circles for volunteers. Depending on the magnitude of the event, sometimes there will be five people and sometimes there will be more than five hundred,” she said.
Creating menstrual hygiene awareness
Besides the beach clean up, Simran is also involved in sanitary waste management, providing menstrual hygiene products to the lesser privileged and creating awareness among indigenous groups and marginalised communities.
“I was involved in this even before I started, doing beach cleanups. During the first COVID-19 wave, I was distributing menstrual hygiene products to various COVID care centres. I also conducted workshops in various slums in Mumbai about the importance of menstrual hygiene, eco-friendly napkins and menstrual hygiene products,” she said.
Why sustainable menstrual hygiene products are important
Initially, it was limited to the distribution of sanitary pads, but as she spoke to more women from the slums and tribal areas, Simran realised there is also a need to create awareness among them.
According to her, women from all walks of life must have access to safe menstrual hygiene products and know how to dispose of them properly.
“During our campaign, I also met several young people who were involved in different environmental initiatives. That is when I thought about sustainability and the idea of introducing menstrual cups, as many women still don’t know about the proper disposal of used sanitary pads. Even during our beach cleanups, I have seen soiled sanitary napkins being thrown on the beach. So I started talking to the women from the slums about the cups, most of them are reluctant to use them, but I hope things will start changing soon,” she explained.
Voicing women in climate change discussions
Since conventional sanitary napkins are non-biodegradable and add to the ever-growing plastic pollution crisis, Simran said that switching to more sustainable products is essential, which will only happen once there is more discussion about it and the impact of climate change.
Simran is also a part of the Women Climate Collective, an initiative that brings together women climate campaigners from across India, called to increase the representation of female voices and perspectives.
“To create awareness about climate change, we also need to educate people from a young age. Even in the larger discussions about climate change, women and the issues they face are often overlooked. It is important we are also part of the climate conversation all the time and there are gender-inclusive climate policies,” she said.
Source : India Times