I have been writing at you guys for almost a year now, and I think it’s time we talked about sex and the environment. Don’t worry- I’ll be gentle.
Now, please don’t get your hopes up. I am not going to give you advice on how to avoid rubbish sex – that’s your own responsibility. What I can do is give you the low down on how to have sex without feeling like you are also fucking up the planet. Guilt is a mood killer, and we wouldn’t want that.
The most environmentally harmful by-product of sex is probably a baby. Frustratingly, the only sex that is totally eco-friendly is the fully au-natural kind, which I only recommend to partners wanting to have little kiddies. It’s kind of a catch 22. Unless you cannot conceive for whatever reason and have a steady partner, in which case you can also go for it!
This post is primarily for those of us who want to have sex without the risk of pregnancy or STDs, while also being kind to mother nature. Kudos to us. It’s also mainly aimed at women because most contraceptive duties seem to fall upon our shoulders… Grrr. If you can’t be bothered with the responsible contraceptive shenanigans then skip through this article to get to the fun stuff later on, just don’t blame me if you end up with a child and genital warts.
Firstly, I should point out that the only absolute zero waste way to ensure non-pregnancy is abstinence and a) even the Pope knows that it doesn’t work very well, and b) it’s not very fun. So let’s look at the alternatives shall we?
The most mainstream of contraceptives, condoms do have their ups and downs. Most importantly they protect you from STDs and pregnancy, but they’re definitely not the most eco product on offer. There are some reliable earth friendly companies out there that have made the effort to keep the impact of their products down. Here are a number of key considerations when looking into the environmental impact of condoms:
- Materials. Most condoms are made from latex rubber, which is collected from the sap of rubber trees, so it has the potential to be done sustainably. Check out what the company’s policies are on sourcing their latex.
- Vegan. Emma mentioned this in her last post. Many condom manufacturers use casein to make the rubber smooth and fine. Casein is a dairy by-product and is made up primarily of milk. There is also a type of condom that is made from lamb intestines (though they call it lambskin…), and is usually marketed to those who have latex allergies. This is a biodegradable product but is obviously not vegan, and be aware that it doesn’t protect against STDs.
- Fair-trade. Obviously, when it comes to getting freaky it’s important to know that it doesn’t come at the cost of another human’s happiness or livelihood. Make sure that the companies you support pay their workers a decent wage and have fair labour laws.
- Chemical nasties. Many companies are vague about what ingredients are in their condoms, but they can include carcinogenic chemicals as part of the rubber, lubricant, or spermicide.
- Rubbish. Both the packaging and actual condoms themselves will unavoidably become rubbish in the landfill. Latex condoms do not biodegrade, and I haven’t heard of a company that offers biodegradable wrappers either. In saying that, make sure you dispose of condoms responsibly by putting them in the bin. Do NOT flush them down the toilet because they will cause problems to the sewerage system and aquatic life.
So there are lots of things to be cautious of when buying condoms, but the good news is that the companies with an earth-friendly focus usually tick all these boxes, except the last. Check out companies such as Sustain, Glyde, L Condoms, and Sir Richards. Not all of these can be found in NZ, but maybe you can stock up next time you go travelling…
Lots of women rely on the pill, but it comes with a few problems. Firstly, it can mess with your hormones, which isn’t ideal. Secondly, the blister packs that the pill comes in are non-recyclable plastic. Finally, you have to remember to actually take it each day, and it won’t protect you from STDs, so remember to use a condom if you’re having casual sex.
Depo Provera/Jadelle/Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
If you’re up for a quarterly jab in the bum then the Depo could be for you ladies! On the surface this contraceptive may seem to produce no waste, but it’s important to remember that each visit to the GP for The Jab will result in medical waste like needles and syringes, gloves, and sterile packaging.
The Jadelle or IUD contraceptives involve small medical procedures to insert the devices, but they last for up to 5 years so are very effective when it comes to waste. There are numerous IUDs available so they can work for different people with different needs – have a shop around.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list, and it can take a while before you can find the best contraceptive for you – but don’t give up! I have tried all of these options over the years, and have found that a Mirena IUD has worked the best for me – so now I know what works and I don’t have to be concerned about unnecessary environmental costs when it comes to my contraception!
The Fun Stuff
Ok, ok. So I’ve covered the responsible side of eco-friendly sex. Now I want to look into some of the other elements that come into play.
This one is a bit of a sticky issue guys. Unfortunately some lubes have nasty, often petroleum based chemicals as part of their ingredients. It’s not necessary something you want to digest, or get all up in and over ya. On top of that, the packaging options are all pretty unsustainable. Some more natural options include aloe vera or coconut oil, but be aware that natural oils can break down condoms so they shouldn’t be used together. Let’s also not forget that ladies have built in lubrication, so that’s pretty cool and ya’ll should make the most of that.
Remember how we talked about the environmental impact of fashion? The same applies to sexy get-up. Don’t buy cheap, fast fashion, and always get items made from natural and sustainable materials. Now THAT is sexy.
Whether you want to spice up life with your partner or get down to some self-love, toys are great. However, it’s important to keep certain factors in mind when it comes to buying the right product. Here are some handy tips:
- Remember that it’s better to spend more money on a quality, well-made product that will last.
- Stick to electronics that are rechargeable, or can use rechargeable batteries – there are even solar powered options!
- Metal and glass products are more eco-friendly than plastic.
- Candles are great for mood lighting, but it’s best to stick to beeswax or another type of sustainable candle.
So I think that pretty much sums it up. Have a good ol’ Google and you’ll find lots of companies who supply eco-friendly contraception or adult toys – it actually seems to be a booming industry, which is awesome! If you have any questions or comments then feel free to flick us an email or write something below. Stay safe and have fun!
Header image via someonelikeme.com