When we think about the different ways we can reduce our carbon footprints, our sex lives usually don’t top the list.
Yet web searches for sustainable products like vegan condoms and waste-free contraception have been steadily increasing in recent years.
What is ecological sex?
“For some, being sexually environmentally friendly means selecting lubricants, toys, sheets and condoms that have less impact on the planet,” explains Dr. Adenike Akinsemolu, an environmental sustainability scientist from Nigeria.
“For others, it involves reducing the harm in the creation of pornographic material for workers and the environment. Both examples are valid and important.”
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 10 billion male latex condoms are produced each year and most are disposed of in landfills.
This is because most condoms are made from synthetic latex and use additives and chemicals, which means they cannot be recycled.
Lambskin condoms, used since Roman times, are the only fully biodegradable option. However, they are made from the intestines of a sheep and do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Many lubricants are also petroleum based and therefore contain fossil fuels. This has led to an increase in water-based or organic products. And homemade options are becoming more popular.
Dr. Tessa Commers has more than a million followers who watch her TikTok videos on sexual health. His most viewed video – with nearly eight million views – is a recipe for a homemade lube made from cornstarch and water.
“Water-based lubricants, organic and vegan condoms are a good choice for having fun and embracing a sustainable sex life,” says Dr. Akinsemolu. “Not only do they cause minor damage to the environment, but they give their users a great time.”
However, care should be taken with some greener products, as some cannot be used with most condoms as they may cause breakage. And before making any decisions about contraception, it is recommended that you speak with a doctor or family planning professional.
- How do we know that climate change is caused by man?
- The environmental disasters that we have almost solved
Sex toys are another area where the use of plastic is widespread. Steel or glass alternatives are available, while the ability to purchase refillable toys also helps reduce waste. There are even solar-powered sex toys on the market.
Companies like LoveHoney also offer a sex toy amnesty where they help recycle old, broken toys that can’t go through the normal recycling routes.
Where else can waste be reduced?
Then there are less obvious parts of our sex life where changes can be made to reduce waste.
Buying ethically made underwear and clothing, avoiding shower sex, using less hot water, keeping the lights 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, a New York-based zero-waste entrepreneur and influencer, says this is where most businesses can make a difference.
Condoms, lubricants, and daily contraceptive pills are all products that can generate packaging that ends up in landfills. IUDs (intrauterine devices) and implants are long-term contraceptive options, which have less waste but carry their own risks.
Lauren lives almost completely waste-free and, since 2012, has been collecting everything she hasn’t been able to recycle in a jar.
You won’t find condoms in Lauren’s jar, and because they’re the only effective contraceptive against sexually transmitted diseases, she asks all of her sexual partners to get tested before bed with them.
“I have a monogamous partner now, but if you don’t feel comfortable asking a partner to take a test before you sleep with them, then you probably shouldn’t sleep with them,” says Lauren.
However, she says there is nothing more unsustainable than an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
“We need to consider which waste is worth producing and which is not,” he says. “People shouldn’t use condoms or not take birth control because of the waste appearance – it’s more important to protect you and your partner.”
Dr. Akinsemolu agrees. “Safe sex, whether or not using green products, is the most sustainable for people and the planet in the long run,” he says.
The climatic impact of reproduction
Which brings us to another point where sex and environment collide: having children.
According to a study 2017, living without a car saves about 2.3 tons of CO2 per year, while sticking to a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tons. By comparison, if you live in the developed world, not having a child saves about 58.6 tons per year.
The carbon footprint in least developed countries is much lower, with a baby in Malawi estimated at 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 “at most” two children, citing the environment as a key factor in that decision.
Likewise, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the C40 World Mayors Summit in 2019 that she is “a woman whose dreams of motherhood now taste bittersweet because of what I know about our children’s future.”
Birth rates are falling in many countries around the world. The ten-year trend certainly cannot be attributed to climate change alone.
But a global survey of British scientists this year found that three quarters of 10,000 young people surveyed agree that “the future was scary”. About 41% of respondents were “hesitant to have children” citing climate change as a reason.
I will not have children
Tanmay Shinde lives in Mumbai, India and has decided that she will not have children for the sake of the environment. The IPCC has predicted that his hometown could be submerged by rising sea levels as early as 2050.
His family found it difficult to understand his decision, although he admits that as a man he may have more privileges than a woman in India around this belief.
“Families in India are very traditional and have a culture that follows centuries-old customs and rituals,” he says. “Having children is one of the most important things in life after marriage and there are so many social pressures to carry this culture forward.”
Will he ever change his mind? “A safer planet and a sustainable lifestyle are prerequisites for having children, so unless strong decisions and massive changes are made to reduce carbon emissions and stop global warming, I don’t think I will have children.”
Professor Kimberly Nicholas, an associate professor at Lund University in Sweden, is co-author of a study that says children in the developed world have a huge negative impact on carbon emissions.
However, he doesn’t argue that people shouldn’t have children. “It’s not my job to support or question people’s personal choices,” he says. “It is a human right to freely decide whether they want to have a child. What I am working for is a world where children who are already alive have a safe planet and society.”
Instead he suggests that people spend more time reconsidering their travel habits “rather than agonizing over the wraps and eliminating every last piece of contraception waste.”
“We should focus our efforts on where it makes a difference,” he says.
As someone who has spent a third of her life living without waste, Lauren is undecided on the issue of children.
“I thought about adoption, which I think is something that would be great, but then the actual physical process of having a child – I’m not sure,” she says.
Like other decisions on sustainability, it asks whether having a child could be “net positive”.
“Will there be a benefit to the planet in general? Can I value this child who will live longer than me and continue to try to create a better world?”
The COP26 world climate summit in Glasgow in November is considered crucial if climate change is to be kept under control. Nearly 200 countries are being asked for their plans to reduce emissions and this could lead to major changes in our daily lives.
- Why the COP26 climate summit is important
- What will climate change be like for you?
- A really simple guide to climate change
- How extreme climate is linked to climate change
- Climate change
Read More about World News here.
This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source