From biodegradable vibrators to organic lube and vegan condoms, the sex industry is catching up to consumers’ demands for sustainable living
The sex-toy market still offers relatively few eco alternatives. The success of the Gaia may be a reflection of this gap – or perhaps it shows that only now are people ready to marry sustainability with their sex lives. Jack Lamon is the co-owner of Come As You Are, a co-operative sex shop in Toronto. He says: “The [solar-powered] California Exotic Solar bullet vibrator has been on the market for 15 years and no one really cared. The world’s first fully recyclable vibrator was made probably eight years ago now. It was called the Earth Angel and it was also wind-up, or you could use batteries. Really cool initiatives, but they haven’t taken off.”
In the UK, the sex shop Lovehoney will recycle customers’ old vibrators; Come As You Are offers a similar programme. Lamon says sex toys made from ABS plastics are sterilised and passed to external recyclers. Products made entirely from silicone are sterilised in an autoclave (boiling alone doesn’t kill all pathogens), after which the silicone can be repurposed into anything from a running track to a secret project for which Lamon and his colleagues are amassing vast stores.
“Any porous material, such as jelly rubber or latex, has to be landfilled,” says Lamon. “There’s no way you can clean them and make them not a biohazard. You can’t put them in an autoclave, because they’ll melt.” However, consumers are moving away from these materials for health reasons. “A lot of the rubber products tend to contain chemical plasticisers such as phthalates.”
The proliferation of body-safe, high-quality sex toys was led by the feminist sex shops that emerged in the 90s, says Lamon. Anything that is 100% silicone won’t leach nasty chemicals and “will really last for ever. Materials such as stainless steel and glass are amazing for that, too.”
To Lamon’s mind, the most environmentally affecting change in the industry has been an overall improvement in quality. “When we started selling vibrators 20 years ago, they used to last between three and six months,” he says. “Now rechargeable vibrators will last anything from two to five years. People have been able to make plug-in vibrators, like the Hitachi Magic Wand, last for a decade or more, and silicone dildos stay in the exact same form for decades. That’s the most environmentally responsible type of consumerism one can engage in with the sex industry.”
View full article on The Guardian: ‘Environmentalists are horny right now’: how to make your sex life more eco-friendly