Green Your Orgasms with Sustainable Sex Toys
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Your sex toy might not be “the one,” but it lasts in the environment forever.
On my quest to be more environmentally friendly, I’ve cut out plastic water bottles, adjusted what I eat to include more plant-based foods and avoided driving around the city. But I haven’t yet found eco-friendly swaps in the bedroom. Turns out, disposing of a sex toy might actually be more difficult than kicking an ex to the curb.
Sex toys are typically made up of a mixture of a few different plastics (some recyclable, some not), and a lot of them have electronic components and batteries that count as e-waste. Most municipal waste facilities in North America won’t even accept used sex toys, on account of them being a potential biohazard. So our discarded sex toys go to the place where all toxic exes belong: the dump. There, they leak chemicals into the soil and water.
On top of the environmental harm, sex toys can negatively affect human health: There are no rules when it comes to health regulations. “It’s hard to regulate the kind of materials sex toy manufacturers use, and they don’t really explain what they put in the toys,” says Isabelle Deslauriers, founder and CEO of Désirables, a Montreal-based brand that creates safe and eco-friendly sex toys made of porcelain. The lack of rules means manufacturers aren’t transparent about what their products are made from and whether they’re body safe.
The materials in some sex toys contain chemicals that can enter your bloodstream—especially if you’re using them internally. Exposure to phthalates, a group of chemicals commonly used in sex toys that make plastics flexible, has been linked to changes in sex hormone levels, reduced fertility, preterm birth and worsening allergy and asthma symptoms. One type of phthalate, DEHP, was banned in the use of cosmetics, medical devices and children’s toys in Canada in 1994, but Health Canada hasn’t banned DEHP or any phthalates in sex toys.
Thanks to the stigma attached, consumers might be buying sex toys that are bad for their bodies and for the environment, Deslauriers says. Because the topic is still somewhat taboo, people don’t want to think about it deeply, she says. They may avoid doing thorough research and asking questions, which leads to another source of confusion: the fact that harmful products are available in stores. “Low-quality sex toys are sold over the counter, and nothing is checked, even in drugstores,” says Deslauriers. People wrongly assume that if it’s on the shelf in your pharmacy, then it must be regulated and safe, she says.
Luckily, Deslauriers says, things are changing for the better. As consumers become more empowered and the stigma associated with sexuality and sex toys is challenged, more people are doing research into what’s good for their health. Sex toy manufacturers have taken note, and more and more of them are ditching toxic ingredients. “In the past 10 or so years we’ve been on the market, we’ve seen a lot more companies doing better,” she says.
All that considered, I tried the Gaia Eco, an affordable, body-safe, sustainable vibrator. Branded as the world’s first biodegradable bullet sex toy, Gaia is made of a plant-based bioplastic called BioFeel. According to Blush, the brand that produces Gaia, BioFeel will break down within 90 days at a commercial compost factory. It’s also recyclable in select facilities.
I enjoyed using Gaia—it’s tiny but still delivers a strong vibration. I also appreciated how discreet it is (about the same size as a tube of lipstick) and how easy it is to clean (in the sink with some soap; you shouldn’t boil it since it’s got electronic parts). Gaia is also super easy to use: Hold down the button to start the good vibes, and click to switch speeds (there are 10 modes in total, including some that pulsate). For something so tiny, I found it created a big sensation. Though our relationship has only just begun, I’m hoping Gaia and I will go steady and I can bid adieu to unsustainable and potentially unhealthy toys.
Another option is LoveHoney’s Womanizer Premium Eco Smart Silence Clitoral Stimulator, which is completely recyclable and has not been tested on animals.