What becomes of the tampons that don't reach the high standards of tamponnic perfection set by Saints Tampax, Playtex, and Our Lady of the OB? The answer may — actually, I think it's safe to say that it almost certainly will — surprise you: they're shipped off to a facility, where they're turned into fuel pellets. And sometimes, the subpar, unapproved tampons are stolen en route to the tampon fuel-making facility and sold on what's known as the "tampon gray market" on sites like eBay. On one hand, I never explicitly planned to purchase feminine products on eBay, but now I for sure never will, but, more importantly does this mean that tampons could be the way we achieve energy independence?
Apparently earlier this week, according to Anna Merlan at the Dallas Observer, a shipment of Kotex Natural Balance tampons that was possibly tainted with "metallic particles" and bacteria was stolen and sold to consumers under shady circumstances. But that's not the most interesting part of the story — turns out, the rejected tampons were on their way to being turned into "fuel pellets," like many rejected batches of feminine products.
What becomes of tampon fuel pellets? Apparently, they're burned along with coal to augment the fossil fuel's power in furnaces. It's true! We have the technology! From the Observer,
"Exemplary hygiene pads are presently marketed under the trade names Kotex, Always, New Freedom, Light Days, and the like," [tampon fuel pellet technology patent holder] Jesse wrote in his delightful patent description. "Such products include containment resin layers, absorbent batting layers, and a variety of transport and utility layers made with paper, non-wovens, and the like." He noted that some products also use "so-called super absorbent materials," which he said were also "acceptable" for fuel.
Does this mean that American energy independence was right under our noses — and bathroom sinks — all along? If unfit tampons are the solution to the problem of our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, then the phrase "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" has an entirely new meaning.
In the meantime, don't order feminine products and especially don't order tampons from unauthorized sellers, as you might be unwittingly stuffing your lady zone with metal and bacteria. Plus, if you buy grey market tampons, you may be depriving some poor family of fuel pellets that they could be using to heat their house.