Your sex life might not be the first or even second thing that comes to mind when considering your environmental impact but as your dating apps could tell you, a little bit of hard work (or swiping) pays off. Making your sex life more environmentally friendly is more fun than taking out the recycling, and both you and environment get to enjoy the payoff.
Use protection and you can’t go wrong. Whether you’re using hormonal contraceptives, the rhythm method or condoms, all have a smaller environmental impact than a baby or spreading an STI does, meaning you really can’t lose. So if it takes you a while to find a method that suits your body and lifestyle, or if occasionally you find yourself nipping to the pharmacy for some plastic-wrapped condoms, don’t stress.
Think outside the box
Sex isn’t an area much targeted by environmentalists, there hasn’t been a lot of press about the different options out there but there are sustainable options available. Sustain condoms, a brand that uses fair-trade natural latex, come in recyclable paper packaging and are manufactured ethically, with 10% of all profits going to women’s healthcare organisations. They’re also free of nitrosamine, a carcinogen present in most other condoms.
Disease isn’t sustainable for you or the earth. If you’re enjoying sex with more than one partner for any period of time, make sure you’re getting tested regularly. There’s nothing less environmentally friendly (or sexy) than unknowingly spreading an STI.
Consider the packaging
If the lube you’ve brought home is organic, great, but if it’s encased in several layers of plastic the planet won’t thank you. If you’re not using condoms consider trying sustainably sourced coconut oil as lubricant - it’s effective, environmentally friendly and comes in an easily recyclable glass jar. There are eco-friendly condom safe options out there, such as Yes, a company making organic, sustainable water-based lubricant that’s no more expensive than what you’d grab in Boots. And all its packaging is recyclable.
Related | Is sustainability a women’s issue?
Don’t support unsustainable big business
If you’re on the hunt for some toys to try something different between the sheets, head to your local sex stores rather than to the internet giants. They’re more likely to be fostering a sex positive community in the place where you live, and their products are carefully chosen just for you. You’ll also be able to get advice on what you’re looking for. Stores such as Sh! in London are safe spaces that hold talks and workshops about how to have sex that everyone in the bedroom will benefit from. Sh! even has a section reserved only for women and mixed-sex couples to shop, so they feel safe.
Quality not quantity
It’s much better for the environment to invest some money in a few really great, well-made sex gadgets than to buy a whole bedside drawers worth of flimsy plastic toys that break after only a few uses. While it might be fun to try out shiny new things, do some research into exactly what you’re looking for and you might just find something that will last a lifetime.
It might seem obvious, but one click onto a website which sells vibrators and other fun things shows that this unsustainable material is like the bad kind of rash - it’s everywhere. Instead, hunt out toys made of glass or medical-grade silicone, and those which charge via a cable or solar power rather than batteries.
Some manufacturers, such as Lovehoney, will recycle old vibrators. These aren’t the kind of items you can gift to friends or sell online, so it’s worth checking before you buy that your old product can be taken care of responsibly when you’re finished with it.
Step out of the shower
It might be a fun way to change things up once in a while, but having sex in the shower and running hot water for a long time is not doing the planet any good. At least turn the water off while you’re doing the deed.
No wipes for clean up
They might make you feel clean, but disposable wipes are an eco-nightmare. If using toilet paper doesn’t get your clean enough, try a reusable washcloth - it works even better.
Words: Alice Johnston