Environmentally-friendly hygiene products

The products we use every day to wash, take care of our body, guarantee our hygiene or protect us from mosquitoes, have a direct impact on the environment. During an itinerant or sedentary stay in nature, it is important to reduce this impact as much as possible, and even more so in remote and / or sensitive natural environments because these have hitherto been protected from chemical inputs and serve as a refuge for species elsewhere subjected to human pressure.

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

We do not seek in this article to favor one product or brand over another, but all products are not equal in terms of impact on nature. As we are directly concerned by this impact during our expeditions and our ecovolunteer missions in the field, but also as manager ofProtected Area of ​​Makay in Madagascar, we choose here to make the results of our research public and to include the names of brands and products to help you navigate them.

Two ferns (Marsilea and Azolla) floating in the water. Aquatic environments are endangered by the chemical compounds we use in our hygiene products.

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 font de leur mieux.

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 - There are more and more solid shampoos today. Compact and lightweight, these are ideal for remote areas. Some brands are particularly committed to the protection of animals (such as LUSH, but, except recent change, these are not organic). Soap can also be a great substitute for shampoo, especially during the few weeks you will be in the wild.

Dentifrice - Solid toothpaste available on Lamazuna.
Natural low-cost option: baking soda / green clay.


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.

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.

In fact, you should know that purification tablets (Micropur or hydroclonazone type) are released into the natural environment by the body and could, according to certain sources, contribute to its pollution. As a precautionary principle, we recommend that they only be used in exceptional ways.

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-standing solves the lack of privacy that can sometimes exist 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