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Going Green, Safe Sex and Protecting the Earth

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Updated June 10, 2014

Going Green, Safe Sex and Protecting the Earth

 

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we should all pledge to do to our part to help protect the Earth. Perhaps you may want to live a "greener" lifestyle. Could that include your choice of birth control? You bet it does! I, am also 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.

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Eco-Friendly Contraception Photo © 2014 Dawn Stacey

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