How can you have a more eco-friendly sex life?

Condoms can be bad for the environment.
Condoms can be bad for the environment.   -  Copyright  Getty
By Alice Johnston

Your sex life might not be the first, or even second, thing that comes to mind when considering your carbon footprint. But it turns out what you get up to in bed could be having an impact on the environment.

Making your sex life more eco-friendly is more fun than taking out the recycling, and both you and the planet get to enjoy the pay-off.

First off, let's be clear. Use protection and you can’t go wrong. Whether you’re using hormonal contraceptives or condoms, all have a smaller environmental impact than having a baby.

So if it takes you a while to find a method that suits your body and lifestyle, or if you find yourself nipping to the pharmacy occasionally for some plastic-wrapped condoms, don’t stress.

Green condoms

Sex isn’t an area much targeted by environmentalists, so 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 per cent 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.

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 lubes 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.

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 like 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.

Avoid plastic

It might seem obvious, but one click onto a website which sells vibrators and other fun things shows that this unsustainable material is like a 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.

Recycle

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.