Sustainable Sex Toys? What To Know About Them

Imagine sex toys made from less toxic, sustainable materials. These are safer for the environment and don’t contain harmful chemicals. Are you wondering if sex toys can be recycled? How can they last longer and avoid ending up in landfills? Yes, I do.

Problem is that sex toy guide don’t have to be regulated by consumer safety agencies. Therefore, anyone can claim that their products are safe and sound without proper verification.

I was determined to find the best toys, condoms, and lube that were fair and sustainable made. I searched for products that were made by retailers and companies with leaders and employees who are queer, transgender and feminist, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). I also looked for products from worker-owned cooperatives. Some also ship in recycled packaging or plastic-free packaging. I looked into repair services for damaged or defective vibrators, and other devices that could help consumers reuse their toys instead of throwing them in the trash.

It was much more difficult than it should have been to find the answers to these questions. Here are my findings, as well as some tips to make your favorite pleasure products last.

How do you fix toys or recycle them?

To keep an old sex toy from going to waste, the best thing to do is to fix it first before replacing it. Ask IFixit for help with almost any problem you might have. You can also watch G-rated videos about fixing a vibrator with corroded battery, or using a Hitachi Magic Wand to massage.

I have yet to find out how the companies recycle sex toys and what their methods are. The sex-toy recycling market is so small, it’s best to remove any electronic parts from a sex toy and give it to an electronics recycler like EStewards.

Condoms

Fair Squared is a German company that ships to Europe and soon will ship to the United States. They make the most sustainable condoms, and gloves. Samantha Prowald, a company representative, said that they do not add petroleum or other plastics to their latex products. She said that they developed a new condom packaging using an innovative paper layer to replace the plastic film layer. This saves at least 40% compared with other brands. Prelubricated condoms with silicone oil cannot be lubricated naturally so Fair Squared developed a Sensitive dry condom with corn powder coating. She also stated that condoms are free from cancer-causing nitrosamines, odor maskers and additives. They also reuse “ugly” boxes and use plastic-free Forest Stewardship Council certified product packaging and shipping.

FSC certifies Sustain condoms’ rubber plantation. Sustain condoms contain 70% less protein than other natural rubber latex condoms. “The allergy or irritation to latex is caused by the protein in latex.” My cofounder and president, Meika Hollender of Sustain said that condoms aren’t hypoallergenic, and therefore, not safe to be used by someone with a latex allergy. Sustain now ships plastic-free from Grove Collaborative. They are committed to becoming 100 percent plastic-free by 2025.

Lube

Fair Squared’s organic, water-based Lube was the most sustainable. Fair Squared products, including many others, are vegan- and fair-trade certified.

What to Consider When Buying Sex Toys

Avoid so-called “biodegradable” plastics that have not been certified as compostable. If a packaging or product is not stamped with a logo from the Biodegradable Products Institute or Din Certco or Vincotte or Japan BioPlastics Association, it might be illegal to label it “biodegradable” and “compostable”. This is the only way to determine if it can be composted. Californians Against Waste provides more information about how to verify that the product claim is legal.

Avoid antibacterial, microban, and antimicrobial products. A cancer-causing chemical (chloroform), can form in water when it reacts with chlorine. Avoid products that contain fragrances as they could contain toxic phthalates. These chemicals can cause cancer, asthma, and other conditions. Avoid jelly toys, rubber, vinyl, PVC, and porous products (which can harbour bacteria), such as ABS, TPE/TPR-silicone or SEBS. One ABS yellow toy had toxic levels of cadmium that required an EU radioactive sticker.

Avoid silicone altogether. Danish Consumer Council, a watchdog for consumer chemicals, has tested nine silicone vibrators in 2020. They found that they emit volatile organic compound (VOCs), have cyclic siloxanes, which can be toxic to fish when washed off, and don’t conform to the recommendations for silicone intended for food contact.

More Greener sex options

Fun Factory’s Jam Slim VIbrator was not contaminated with peroxides or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, unlike other brands. Fun Factory claims that its toys come in plastic-free packaging unlike other brands. It also offers a 2-year warranty.

New York Toy Collective offers a discount for those who are interested in accidentally imperfect silicone dildos, which have not been lab-tested. According to Carol Queen (staff sexologist at Good Vibrations), they can be purchased at a discounted price. She knows of no other manufacturer that does this.

You might consider a rechargeable model instead of a battery-operated one, as these motors are less durable.

Feelmore Adult is a Black-owned retail that employs only people of color. The Glas brand is sold by it. They passed safety tests conducted Dangerous Lilly. Nenna Joiner founded Feelmore to help Black people heal from trauma.

Feelmore offers returns on defective products, unlike other sex shops. Joiner said that for products with motors that are no longer working, they can sometimes be sold on social media at a reduced price to avoid disposing of them.

Come As You Are Co-operative offers NobEssence which is the only brand that has a medical-grade coating. OXYD Creations also sells harnesses made from recycled bike tubes. Good Vibrations also offers harnesses made from recycled bike tubes.

How to make your sex toys last

You don’t want your toys to become stained by dyes or get dirty from fabrics. Keep them in a lightly used bag, undyed muslin bag, or cotton bag. VenusEnvy owner Sam Whittle has this advice: “Remove batteries when they are not in use to stop leakage.” The Hitachi Magic Wand, an electric (plug-in), vibrator, should not be left on for longer than 20 minutes. Allow your electric vibrator to cool off between uses.