Environmentally-friendly hygiene products

Les produits que nous utilisons au quotidien pour nous laver, prendre soin de notre corps, garantir notre hygiène ou encore nous protéger des moustiques, ont un impact direct sur l’environnement. Lors d’un séjour itinérant ou sédentaire dans la nature, il est important de réduire cet impact au maximum, et ce d’autant plus dans les milieux naturels reculés et/ou sensibles car ceux-ci ont jusque là été protégé des intrants chimiques et font office de refuge pour des espèces dont l’environnement est ailleurs soumis à la pression de l’homme.

Another essential factor in nature, the waste are not treated as is generally the case in cities (this is far from being the case in many developing countries). Products applied to the skin (soap, cream, mosquito repellant, etc.) ‘will slip sooner or later into the ground or the river, during the shower or carried away by sweat. Ingested chemicals (water purification tablets, pills, etc.) will also be released by the body after they pass through the body.

We do not try in this article to promote a product or brand over another, but all products are far from equal in terms of impact on nature. As we are directly affected by this impact both on our expeditions that as manager of protected area in Madagascar, here we choose to make public the results of our research and include the names of brands and products to help to you there.

General considerations

Les concepteurs de produits pour le soin du corps regorgent d’inventivité pour concevoir des produits toujours plus vendeurs : cela se traduit en terme d’ingrédients par des tensio-actifs, colorants, microbilles de plastiques, nanoparticules, parabènes, phtalates etc. Creuser le sujet peut vite devenir effrayant ! Les critères auxquels nous prêtons attention lors du choix d’un produit sont les suivants : respect de l’environnement (rejet dans l’environnement), respect de la santé de l’utilisateur, et respect de la vie animale (cruelty-free, non testé sur des animaux, voire encore végan/sans composant d’origine animale). Il pourra être ajouté le cas échéant le respect des producteurs (commerce équitable). Il n’est pas toujours facile de trouver un produit qui remplisse tout ces critères, mais certaines marques essayent.

Ingrédients — Pour faire un raccourci, moins un produit contient d’ingrédients, moins il a de chances de contenir des composés néfastes pour l’environnement. Ceci dit, il faut souvent regarder dans le détail, ce qui est laborieux. La certification biologique d’un produit est la plupart du temps quasi indispensable, mais il est intéressant de noter que cela ne suffit pas. En effet, biologique n’implique pas nécessairement biodégrable, ni sans impact sur le milieu. Par ailleurs, la certification biologique sur les cosmétiques porte souvent sur un pourcentage du produit, pas sa totalité.

Quantité — Par ailleurs, quelque soit le produit amené, le mieux est toujours d’en utiliser le moins possible et le plus rarement possible. Même un produit respectueux de l’environnement entraine l’introduction d’un composant étranger dans un milieu où il n’est pas présent.

Last general consideration, finally, a liquid product - shower gel, shampoo, etc. - often contains (always?) Conservatives aimed to block bacterial growth fostered by the liquid medium.

Soap, shampoo and toothpaste

Savon - The most natural soaps today - and since 3500 years - are the Marseille soap and Aleppo, composed only of olive oil (and oil of bay laurel for Aleppo soap). To know that these names are not protected appellations, their composition and origin is not guaranteed. So check case by case. The easiest way is to buy them organic shop because 'soaps from Marseille "supermarkets are often unsavory.

These soaps can also be used shampoo (depending on hair each) and washing machine. Some use for dishes and as toothpaste. Versatile, so light to the bag.

Shampooing — On trouve aujourd’hui de plus en plus de shampooings solides. Compact et légers, ceux-ci sont idéals pour les endroits reculés. Certaines marques sont particulièrement engagés pour la protection des animaux (comme LUSH, mais, sauf changement récent, ceux-ci ne sont pas biologiques). Le savon peut aussi largement remplacer le shampooing, a fortiori pendant les quelques semaines où vous serez en milieu sauvage.

Dentifrice — Dentifrice solide disponible sur Lamazuna.
Option low-cost naturelle : bicarbonate de soude / argile verte.


Sunscreen is a real present ecological problem, with 25 000 tonnes discharged into the oceans each year. Its impact on marine natural environments is considerable, especially on coral reefs, which can kill within 48 hours after exposure to a toxic sunscreen. The best option currently seems to be the EQ ethical brand, We recommend.

There are probably other options, especially for sensitive skin. Please note that even some organic sunscreens and / or mineral may contain harmful components (des nanoparticules notamment, voir ci-dessous) : la composition est donc toujours à vérifier. Le mieux étant de n’en mettre que si ou quand nécessaire, d’avoir des vêtements couvrants, etc.

En savoir plus : identifier une crème solaire à moindre impact environnemental

  • Les crèmes à filtre chimique sont toujours toxiques, à bannir donc. Elle sont également de plus en plus interdites, comme aux Palaos, à Hawaï, ou au Mexique.
  • The following components are strictly avoided because of their toxicity even in small doses for corals: Oxybenzone⁠, Octinoxate⁠, Octocrylene⁠, PABA (Aminobenzoic Acid) ⁠, Enzacamene⁠, Octisalate⁠, Homosalate⁠, Avobenzone⁠.
  • Sunscreens mineral filter (oxide of zinc, titanium dioxide), however are not considered toxic if they do not contain nanoparticles ( 'NANO' necessarily mentioned in the product composition).
  • If the nanoparticles are permanently banish, there is no scientific consensus on the non-toxicity of zinc oxide (excluding nanoparticles), which is considered a good sunscreen. That may change with the evolution of the research.
  • These marks or some of their products are probably interesting: alga Maris ; Wash (ambiguous on nanoparticles); Avène Thermal Spring Water (some products contain nanoparticles).
  • Read more about Reporterre how tan green? and Glamconscious: ecological ethics sunscreen which also recommends the EQ and UVBIO brands.
  • Recommended brands in the United States: Raw Elements, All Good and Avasol.

Mosquito repellent

Mosquito repellent without DEET is best for nature. However, many mosquito 'natural' insuffisemment prove effective in the tropics. Marks Florame and Puressentiel commercialize Special repellents tropics and infested, and 100% natural.

Treatment of drinking water

It is often best to simply boil water suffisemment long (about ten minutes). To break free of this constraint, we recommend using a filter (like Katadyn / Care Plus Sawyer) that can make drinking water immediately.

Indeed, we must know that purification tablets (Micropur type or hydroclonazone) that can alternatively be used are released into the environment by the body and could selons some sources contribute to its pollution. As a precaution we can make to reduce their use.

feminine hygiene

Rules - It is best to use a menstrual cup (type Mooncup, here an here small manual). Otherwise, towels / biodegradable pads and dirt free for the body (in Biocoop, for example). The bio reusable cotton towels are possible, but the conditions for washing are not always adequate.

Urinate - The piss-up (entry here) Solves the lack of privacy that can sometimes occur in some places.

Pill - Finally, although it is not always possible to change the method of contraception for a short stay in a natural environment, we must be aware that the pill also has an impact on natural ecosystems. This impact is reflected in particular by a feminization of living which reached worrying proportions in some lakes.

Wash synthetic clothes

When washing synthetic clothes (fleece, breathable T-shirts, etc.), mechanical action frees many plastic microfibres in water, pollution filters washing machines and water treatment stations can remember. A fortiori, in the case of washing clothes directly into streams of a natural area, plastic microfibres (1 to 2g per wash) are emitted directly into the medium and may then enter at the bottom in the chain food. A laundry bag that holds the fibers during washing is ideal. Available here and is.

Final note

This page is intended to evolve. Feel free to give us your advice for improvements.
For good practice to adopt in nature, see our good practice guide ecotourist.

Finally, these precautions are essential in natural environments, but it is good to know that these principles also apply at home in town or country, to reduce our footprint on our environment, wherever we may be.


To come