Red hot green sex: how to green your sex life

Bed with pillows and sheets

Eco-minded sex is better for you and the planet so consider G- (for “green”) rating your most intimate moments. (Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash)

Eco-minded sex is better for you and the planet!

So before getting caught up in the excitement, consider G- (for “green”) rating your most intimate moments with these Earth-friendly tips.

Use non-toxic sex toys

Most sex toys contain phthalates, chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break that can harm the environment and human bodies.

Studies show phthalates can disrupt the body’s hormone-regulating endocrine system. In animals, exposure to high levels has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, as well as immune system damage.

Several countries have restricted and regulated some types of phthalates due to the health risks they pose on human and environmental health.

The greenest sex toys are made from:

  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Silicone
  • Biodegradable material (e.g., starch-based bioplastic)
  • Recycled materials (e.g., Ohhcean is the world’s first company to make sex toys from upcycled ocean-bound plastic).

Brands are realizing that sustainability is important when people consider what to buy. Big commercial online adult toy brands and stores now have eco-friendly catalogues with biodegradable, rechargeable, natural and/or organic products.

More companies are also developing environmental policies and commitments to protect nature. The Natural Love Company is carbon neutral, plants a tree for each customer, pledges one per cent of their turnover each year to support environmental projects, is powered by renewable energy, provides carbon-negative worldwide delivery and avoids single-use plastic packaging.

How to recycle sex toys

In 2013, a cooperatively owned Toronto sex store was the first (and still only!) to develop a toy recycling program for all Canada. Pay $6 for a printable shipping label and send Come As You Are your broken, neglected or unwanted silicone and ABS plastic sex toys for recycling.

Choose natural lubricants

Human bodies lubricate naturally, but people who need or want more assistance reducing friction should avoid petroleum products, artificial scents, flavours or colours. Instead, opt for water-based lubricants and, if you don’t need a condom or aren’t using latex barriers, you can use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or vegetable oil. Search online for recipes to make DIY lubricants with non-toxic and natural ingredients. (Unsure about the safety of an ingredient? Consult your health care practitioner.)

Explore ecosexuality, eco-fetishism and plant-based BDSM

Got a kink for nature? Ecosexuality is a philosophy growing in popularity that differs from person to person but puts care for the planet akin to care for a lover. It emphasizes consent, love, consideration and reciprocity! For ecosexuals, there no wrong way to play, as long as you keep the planet in mind.

Eco-fetishists incorporate nature into sex play by indulging senses in earthly delights (e.g., having sex in nature), getting down and dirty (literally), or using plant materials for kink activities (like floggings with branches). Some of these practices are rooted in ancient cultural traditions.

Plant-based BDSM explores sustainable, vegan alternatives to traditionally leather-oriented fetishes.

But remember, nature can be powerful. Always do your research before experimenting with new kinks.

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Do a protection inspection

Materials and ingredients make some birth control and/or sexually transmitted infection protection choices greener than others. Always consult with a health-care professional when deciding what’s best for you.

Condoms and other barrier methods

  • Sheepskin (a.k.a. lambskin) condoms are biodegradable, but don’t protect against STIs.
  • Latex comes from rubber trees and is biodegradable, but condoms are never 100 per cent latex (although rubber condoms protect against STIs). Look for brands that harvest rubber sustainably, e.g., Glyde or Sustain Natural.
  • Polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms are made of plastic that never biodegrades, and are the worst choice environmentally.
  • Lubricants and spermicidal coatings (on any condom) impede decomposition.
  • Buying condoms, gloves, dams and other barriers in bulk uses less packaging.
  • Silicone cervical caps and latex diaphragms are good green birth control choices because they can be used over and over.

Never flush condoms down the toilet. Condoms that go into the toilet end up in the water supply, harming wildlife and potentially blocking sewage systems. Don’t try to recycle them as they’ll contaminate other recyclable materials. Until manufacturers come up with alternatives, condom wrappers and their used contents are best put in the garbage (away from pets).

Medications

Hormones from birth control pills, implants, injections and patches end up in the water system through urine, wreaking havoc on fish and other wildlife. The synthetic estrogen changes the chemical composition of water, harming ecosystems, animals and microorganisms.

Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate is an antiretroviral used for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. It’s one of the two medicines combined in some forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). TFD has been reported as an emerging contaminant in aquatic environments when present in concentrations.

Never flush old or expired medications down the toilet or throw them in the garbage. The safest way to dispose of expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter health care products is to take them back to your local pharmacy. Medications that go into the toilet or landfill end up in the water supply, can disrupt ecosystems and harm wildlife.

Other environmentally friendly tips

  • Hormonal and copper intrauterine devices are the best birth control option for the environment. An IUD is a small T-shaped device wrapped in either copper or a synthetic progesterone hormone that’s 99-plus per cent effective with nearly no waste.
  • Vasectomy and tubal ligation are permanent birth control options that produce almost no waste.
  • Fertility awareness–based methods involve tracking a menstrual cycle and avoiding sex or using a barrier method of birth control during the days where pregnancy is most likely to occur.
  • Basal body temperature tracking involves using a thermometer daily to track your fertility status.
  • For STIs, the best form of protection is to get tested regularly, know your sexual health status and communicate openly with partners.

Take care of your sex stuff

To extend their life and keep you healthy, keep toys clean and store them safely and hygienically. Read product information carefully for cleaning and storage recommendations or consult a sex expert. Sex shop staff are often knowledgeable — ask questions!

Store lubricants and condoms in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposing them to heat, sunlight and moisture as these conditions can weaken the material and make them prone to expiring or breaking.

Always check expiration dates to ensure lubricants and condoms to make sure they are effective and safe to use.

Buy less (sex) stuff

Like with everything, buying new stuff all the time is not great for the planet. Although fun costumes or lingerie may be exciting, they have an environmental cost when people buy them for one-time use and either dispose of them or let them collect dust in the back of the closet.

Before purchasing new gear or getups, ask yourself, will I use this item over and over again or will I lose interest?

Be mindful about purchasing garments that are ethically made and contain the least amount (or no) non-biodegradable materials such as polyester, nylon and spandex. Materials like jelly rubber, latex and PVC also have to be landfilled.

Refuse, re-use or recycle packaging whenever you can.