Buffer life cycle
The buffer . This very practical object, always at hand in handbags, accompanies millions of women during their periods. It seems quite banal, but it is nevertheless considered by Greenpeace as one of the most polluting objects. Raw materials, manufacturing methods, toxic products and non-degradable waste, the stamp is indeed among the environmental defendants… but fortunately more and more alternatives exist!
Stamp manufacturing process
What raw materials?
It is still often difficult to know exactly what the tampons contain: no list of ingredients appears on the packaging. We do know that the majority is composed mainly of viscose, a synthetic fiber made from wood pulp or artificially with petroleum. This latter solution makes the tampons non-biodegradable and therefore non-ecological.
They also contain a more or less important part of cotton. The cultivation of this plant is one of the most polluting there is. It alone requires 25% of the pesticides used in the world while it represents only 2.5% of cultivated areas. In addition, it takes 10,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of cotton.
In addition to the ecological bill, there is also the energy cost due to transport, cotton being grown mainly in China, India and Africa.
Presence of substances harmful to the environment
When manufacturing tampons, chlorine is used to bleach the raw material. This operation leaves residues of dioxin in the final product, a chemical compound that is as toxic to women's health as it is to the environment. After using the buffer, these dioxins contaminate land and sea environments, sometimes ending up… on our plates! This is rather worrying, as prolonged exposure to this poison has been shown to cause cancers and disruption of the immune system, among other things.
End of buffer life
Disposable protections = polluting waste
During her lifetime, each woman throws on average between 10,000 and 15,000 sanitary protections in the trash. However, it takes 500 years for a tampon to disappear. Synthetic viscose degrades very poorly and falls into the category of microplastics now present in all ecosystems, especially on the seabed. It is estimated that more than 8 million tons are released into the sea annually, causing the death of millions of fish, marine mammals and other living organisms.
Packaging and applicators
Added to this long list of polluting materials and processes are individual packaging and plastic applicators. This non-recyclable waste contributes a little more each day to the expansion of the 7th continent of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
A disturbing but not inevitable observation
Tampons that are more respectful of women and the planet
More sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives are gradually developing. Young brands now offer tampons made of organic cotton, without viscose and not bleached with chlorine, as well as applicators made of recyclable cardboard. Even the hygienic protection giant Tampax has recently been marketing organic cotton tampons from responsible sources, with applicators made of 90% plant-based plastic. Unfortunately, these tampons still have a significant impact on the planet, and also on our wallets: they cost on average twice as much as conventional tampons!
Zero waste alternatives
Reusable protections such as period cups or panties are very good solutions for those who wish to limit their waste during their period. The most adventurous among us can even do without periodic protection altogether by trying the free instinctive flow !