Episode 13: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

Welcome to 3 Changes a Week: your weekly update on how to save the planet.

Sex – contraception, lube, toys, cleaning products, tissues – it can produce a lot of waste. A lot of waste that it would be sad or simply unsafe to stop producing.

Take condoms for example: an essential part of safe sex, but all individually packaged in plastic, single-use (thank god!) and non-biodegradable. Huh. Goes against everything we stand for on 3 Changes a Week. This was a problem I had to tackle.

Luckily, I’m not the first one on the job. It seems that there has been a market for several years for safer, more natural, and more eco-conscious sex products (especially condoms and lube). I’ve rounded up the best products to make sure your sex life – like every part of your life! – is as eco-friendly as possible.

 

1. USE PLASTIC-FREE CONDOMS

Ease: ****

Cost: Fair Squared are £7.95 for 10, and Glyde are £7.18 for 10 (on Amazon)

If you use condoms, for penises or toys, these can be a big source of waste.

I actually expected there to be more plastic-free condoms on the market. There is an emphasis on more natural and vegan-friendly products for the condoms themselves, but I’ve found a lack of plastic rarer.

However, I did find these Fair Squared vegan latex condoms, which are packaged in recyclable foil and cardboard, and seem very promising. Their natural latex is fair trade and they do not use casein (derived from milk) so they are also vegan.

 

I also discovered Glyde condoms, which seem to be more sustainable than other brands, and are vegan-friendly, but do not seem to be completely plastic free (although they say they use minimalist recycled carboard outer packaging). The reviews on amazon are not fantastic, however, so this may be a risky bet. Unfortunately, as they are made from latex, these brands are not suitable for people with latex allergies. I cannot seem to find an eco-friendly brand of latex-free condoms, so if anyone is looking to start a business, here is a gap in the market!

Also, remember that other forms of contraception like the implant and IUDs (although probably not the contraceptive pill due to the blister packet it comes in) may have a lower plastic footprint, if this is an option for you. However, remember these forms of contraception do not protect against STIs, so it’s always better to use a condom.

 

2. USE A NATURAL LUBRICANT

Ease: *****

Cost: jars of coconut oil start around £5 at Holland and Barrett, and the YES lube at £9.99 (100ml)

Like most other products that go on your skin, lube can contain chemicals that aren’t really very good for us or the planet. Greenpeace reports that it can contain petroleum-based chemicals; here is a list of chemicals you should look out for and avoid in lube.

It’s said that if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t use it on your genitals. I’ve also heard ‘treat your vagina better than your face’.

 

However, like skincare, there are options that are much more natural available on the market. One simple option is using pure, virgin (ha-ha) coconut oil, available in the supermarket or health food shops. It is often available in recyclable glass jars.It does have the same down-sides as other oil-based lubricants in that it can cause the latex in condoms to breakdown, however, and some women with more sensitive vaginas may find it makes them more likely to contract a yeast or bacterial infection. 

A similar water-based suggestion is aloe vera, although some people can be allergic to this. Make sure you have pure aloe vera gel, with no added ingredients. The gel should be clear. You can read more about the pros and cons of aloe vera lube in this article.

This Greenpeace article on eco-friendly sex suggests YES lube, which is organic and natural, but not plastic-free. They have a big range of silicone and water-based lubricants, so are worth checking out.

 

3. CLEAN GREEN

Ease: *****

Cost: A washcloth is a couple of pounds, Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is 18.8p per 100 sheets, and their tissues are £14 for 12 boxes

Make sure when you clean-up after sex, you aren’t making too much of a mess for the planet!

As always, avoid wet wipes (especially flushable ones). Instead, grab a washcloth - perhaps keep a few around specifically for this purpose? - or hop in the shower. If you would prefer to use disposable tissues, or toilet paper, check out Who Gives a Crap, who I have recommended before, who produce both eco-friendly toilet paper and tissues.

Made these changes or already doing them? Tag your pictures to #3changesaweek and spread the word!