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Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

Safe Sex and Protecting the Earth...Can You Recycle Condoms?

By April 22, 2011

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In honor of Earth Day, we should all pledge to do to our part to help and protect the earth. I, for one, am a huge proponent of recycling - yet what should you do with condoms? In the most literal sense, both male condoms and female condoms CANNOT be recycled... meaning, they can ONLY be used ONE time (some women believe that they can wash out the female condom and use it again - this is not true or recommended).

Okay, well now that I have established that condom use shouldn't be recycled, how about the condom itself? Unfortunately, there are no recycling programs for condoms. This begs the question, where do our used condoms go?

Well firstly, do not flush a condom down the toilet because this can clog your plumbing or end up in the water supply. Latex is actually an all-natural substance made from the sap of rubber trees. That being said, latex condoms are not composed of 100% latex. Even though nobody has really studied how long it takes condoms to break down in landfills, your best bet is to wrap the used condom in tissue (as this is biodegradable) and throw it away in the trash can.

Though polyurethane condoms (and female condoms) are made from a plastic material, these condoms do not break down at all. So, even though they are technically considered plastic, you should not place these condoms in your recycling bin alongside water bottles and other plastic items.

Some good news on safe sex and protecting the earth, the semen and other bodily fluids left in condoms will completely decompose in the environment. Also, don't forget your condom packages! You can recycle the boxes that condoms come in - just make sure that you throw away the individual foil condoms packages as these can't be recycled. Though it basically is unfortunate that there are not better earth-friendly ways of throwing out these vital birth control options, I would still have to argue that the benefits of pregnancy protection and protection against various STDs associated with condom use outweigh the limited recycling options available to condom users.

August 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm
(1) Rob says:

The latex from which condoms are made is a natural material from a rubber tree – aptly called. The raw latex is tapped in much the same way as maple syrup is harvested from maple trees.

Apparently the supply is inexhaustible but given that many millions of latex condoms are disposed of every day one might consider some means by which this natural material might be harvested and re-cycled, not necessarily to make more condoms but some other useful product such as water-proofing.


February 23, 2013 at 11:16 pm
(2) dick johnson says:

We are screwing the environment!

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