Between the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the transportation we use, it’s clear that our daily habits can impact the planet. But what about the recurring habit of sex? From bedsheets to BDSM accessories and candles to condoms, sex-play accoutrement can also stand to be purchased and enjoyed with the environment in mind.
Below, sex experts offer their best actionable eco-friendly sex tips anyone can take.
1. Decide on your approach
“There is no universal definition for eco-friendly sex, but there are multiple approaches,” says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, Astroglide Ambassador, sexologist and host of the podcast Sex With Dr. Jess. “For some, being eco-friendly means choosing toys, lubes, bedsheets, and condoms that minimise impact on the planet. For others, eco-friendly sex involves reducing harm in the production of porn—to the environment and to the workers.”
Both of those examples of approaches are valid and important, so regarding where you might start making your sex life more eco-friendly in a sustainable and impactful way, first consider the habits involved in your sex life. Issues that are important to you personally will help to guide your decision-making in a way that allows for lasting change.
2. Ask questions
Sarah Welsh, co-founder of vegan condom brand Hanx, says, “It’s important we consider the brands we buy from within the sexual wellness industry as a whole, including sex toys, contraceptives, lube, lingerie and everything in-between.”
To do this, ask the same kinds of questions you would when assessing the ethical credentials of a company in any other walk of life. Think about the materials that are used, how they’re sourced, and what the company’s stance on sustainability is.
3. Think about the setting
Making the bedroom eco-friendly can be an effective way to up the sustainability factor of your overall sex routine. “Since sex tends to happen between or on top of the sheets, this is the obvious starting point,” says Dr. O’Reilly. When shopping for eco-friendly sheets, look for options that are ethically made, organic, and Fair Trade Certified, she adds. A few choices include Coyuchi 300 thread count organic Percale Sheets (from $38), Boll & Branch Signature Hemmed Sheet Set (from $160), and Buffy Eucalyptus Sheets (from $169).
After giving your bed an eco-friendly upgrade for sex and sleeping alike, Nicoletta Heidegger, LMFT, a licensed therapist who focuses on sex counseling, suggests taking your bedroom makeover a step further by designating a sex towel or sheet. “Throw one on top of your bed. Less laundry, less water waste.”
You might also consider using a soy or beeswax candle to both minimize energy usage of artificial lighting and also, y’know, set the mood. Try Urban Apothecary Candles ($48) to transport you with one of its scents or Birthdate Candles ($38) to commemorate the memory of a special date.
4. Create a checklist for sustainable sex toys
“Sex toys are a great way to make sex more pleasurable and fun, but when it comes to ensuring sex is more sustainable, we really should be thinking more about the long-term effects of these products on the Earth and our environment,” says sex educator Reba Corrine Thomas, aka Reba the Diva.
To assess a pleasure product’s sustainability, start by noting how it’s powered. If it’s battery-operated, swap in rechargeable batteries. “Or invest in a rechargeable device to eliminate the necessity of batteries altogether,” says Thomas. A great rechargeable option is Kip ($95) from Dame Products.
Next, look at the materials the sex toy is made from, and prioritize body-safe biodegradable materials like bioplastics, polished wood, glass, ceramic, and steel. “More sustainable materials won’t go through the same wear and tear as silicone, and, if cared for correctly, should last you,” say Sarah Brooks and Susi Lennox, co-founders of organic intimacy brand Yes Yes Yes.
5. Look at the ingredient list on your bottle of lube
6. Experiment with what you have
“You can find everyday items in your home to ramp up your sexual pleasure,” says Dr. O’Reilly. To get your creativity flowing, O’Reilly suggests that after gaining consent you use wooden spoons and spatulas to spank and for impact play, ties and scarves for restraint tools or blindfolds, and menthol mouthwash for oral sex sensation play.
Just be sure to stay safe and not masturbate with certain items that a sexologist would prefer you and your genitals steer clear of.
7. Choose condoms carefully
Regarding eco-friendly condoms, look out for brands with sustainable goals and a mission to transform the market with planet-friendly offerings. Sustain Natural Ultra Thin Latex Condoms ($14 for 10) are sourced from a Fair Trade Certified rubber plantation (and the brand also sells organic lube ($17 for two). Likewise, Hanx condoms are made with Fair Rubber certified latex and without casein, an animal protein often found in condoms, so they’re classified as vegan. Whichever variety you choose, make sure you dispose of the condoms correctly, which means never flushing them down the toilet.
Astroglide is available at Woolworths Supermarkets across Australia.
Astroglide is available at Coles Supermarkets across Australia.