What is eco-friendly sex?
“For some, being eco-friendly sexually means selecting lubes, toys, bed sheets and condoms that have less impact on the planet,” explains Dr Anil Kumar, an environmental sustainability scientist from Delhi.
“For others, it entails reducing the damage in the creation of porn to workers and the environment. Both examples are valid and of importance.”
The INDIAN Population Fund estimates around 10 crore male latex condoms are manufactured each year and most are disposed of in landfills.
That’s because most condoms are made from synthetic latex and use additives and chemicals, meaning they cannot be recycled.
Lambskin condoms, which have been used since Roman times, are the only fully biodegradable option. However, they are made from the intestine of a sheep and do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Many lubes are also petroleum-based and therefore contain fossil fuels. This has led to a rise in water-based or organic products. And homemade options are becoming more popular.
Dr Kumar has more than a million followers watching him TikTok videos on sexual health. His most viewed video – with almost eight million watches – is a recipe for homemade lube made from cornstarch and water.
“The water-based lubricants, organic and vegan condoms are a good pick for having fun and embracing a sustainable sex life,” says Dr kumar. “They not only cause minor damage to the environment but offer their users a great time.”
However, caution must be taken with some greener products, as some can’t be used with most condoms because they may cause breakage. And before making any decisions around contraception, it is advised that you speak to a doctor or family planning professional.
Sex toys are another area where the use of plastic is widespread. Steel or glass alternatives are available, while the option of buying rechargeable toys also helps reduce waste. There are even solar-powered sex toys on the market.
Companies such as LoveHoney also offer a sex toy amnesty where they assist in recycling old and broken toys that cannot go through typical recycling routes.
Where else can waste be reduced?
Then there are less obvious parts of our sex lives where changes can be made to reduce waste.
Purchasing ethically made lingerie and clothing, avoiding shower sex, using less hot water, keeping the lights switched off, and opting for reusable washcloths are all ways to reduce our impact on the planet.
Like most things we buy, packaging often leads to waste. Lauren Singer, an entrepreneur and zero-waste influencer from New York, says this is where most companies can make a difference.
eco friendly sex
Condoms, lube and daily contraceptive pills are all products that can generate packaging that ends up in landfills. IUDs (intrauterine devices) and implants are longer-term contraceptive options, which have less waste but come with their own risks.
Lauren lives almost entirely waste-free and, since 2012, has collected anything she hasn’t been able to recycle in a jar. eco friendly sex
The climate impact of reproducing
Which brings us to another point where sex and the environment collide – having children.
According to a 2017 study, living car-free saves about 2.3 tonnes of CO2 a year, while sticking to a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes. By comparison – if you live in the developed world – not having a child saves about 58.6 tonnes per year.
eco friendly sex
The carbon footprint in less developed countries is much lower, with a child in Malawi estimated to be no more than 0.1 tonnes.
Some influential figures have discussed their reservations about having children. Prince Harry told Vogue in 2019 that he and the Duchess of Sussex would have “a maximum” of two children, citing the environment as a key factor in this decision.
Similarly, US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the C40 World Mayors’ Summit in 2019 that she was “a woman whose dreams of motherhood now taste bittersweet because of what I know about our children’s future”.
Birth rates have been on the decline in many countries across the world. The decades-long trend certainly cannot be chalked up to climate change alone.
eco friendly sex