With climate change very much on (nearly) everyone’s mind with more people trying to control their carbon emissions, waste and all the other factors that contribute to a rapidly warming planet, sex is perhaps not an activity you associate with this problem.
You would be surprised how many products related to sex can harm the earth. But don’t despair, in most cases there is an eco-friendly alternative.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
The Problem: The IUD is the most effective at preventing pregnancy and relieves the planet from packaging pollution and chemicals of other methods of protection. Its longevity once in use (maybe several years at a time), is great news for the environment. There are both hormone-free and hormonal versions of the IUD.
The Problem: No one knows how long it takes for a condom to biodegrade and many contain harmful chemicals. Unlike with food, condom manufacturers don’t have to list the ingredients, so as a consumer you may be unaware of the contents. When manufacturing condoms, liquid latex is heated up to a point at which it becomes solid, a process that naturally produces a class of carcinogenic chemicals called nitrosamines.
When it comes to disposal of condoms the real problems occur. They can cause havoc on sewage systems and aquatic life. They belong in the trash to biodegrade. If it bothers you to be creating more trash, remember latex condoms are made of rubber, a natural material. This means that technically they’re biodegradable and can be composted. However, it can take quite a while to compost condoms it needs to be done yourself, not through commercial composting. Never flush them down the toilet.
The Solution: Lambskin Condoms are biodegradable, but they’re not vegan, so the environmental impact isn’t too good. Here are some other manufacturers that produce eco-friendly condoms:
Glyde: a company that creates ethical, vegan and fair trade condoms. Sir Richard’s – Free of harmful chemicals like glycerin, parabens, and spermicide, plus a bonus: for every condom you buy, Sir Richard’s will donate a rubber to an underprivileged person in a developing country.
The Problem: The hormones in oral birth control are causing a rise in intersex fish. They get into the world’s water through our urine, and the rise in fish born with both sexual organs is having a hugely negative impact on their environment. Plus, as ever there is the associated packaging to think of.
The Solution: Cut down on birth control packaging waste by getting the one-time shot or implant. If you have to dispose of pills, do so responsibly.
The Diaphragm and Cervical cap
These are eco-friendly methods of birth control as they’re are reusable and create less waste, but their effectiveness rate is not as high as medical contraception.
Natural methods of birth control
Natural Family Planning and the more sophisticated Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs) are worth looking at. Fertility awareness or Natural Family Planning is a method of birth control that does not use any drugs or devices. It combines the calendar/rhythm method, the basal body temperature method, and the cervical mucus method. The fertility awareness method is used both as a means of preventing pregnancy and as a way to target the most fertile time for getting pregnant, but is not as effective as medical contraception.