What Does A Sustainable Sex Toy Industry Look Like?
What if we told you that your orgasm could help save the planet? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it's not. There are a few things to remember when shopping for your next sext toy: invest in a few, high-quality toys that are made from long-lasting, innovative materials (like upcycled wood, silicone, glass or porcelain) and from brands that prioritize sustainable practices. Why? Approximately 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste were dumped globally last year, according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report. And only 17.4 per cent of it was recycled. Electronic sex toys, like vibrators, are part of the problem — and most of the time, they just end up in landfills because they contain batteries or cords, or are made from ABS plastics, which is harmful for the body and can’t go into mainstream recycling. Recycling might not fix the problem either (you need to ensure it’s *actually* being recycled, not just shipped to another country): check in with your local sex shop to learn the best way to recycle your sex toy for your area. Remember: the sex toy industry is not regulated when it comes to materials or waste production, so what you buy matters. It may seem overwhelming, but don’t fret — we spoke to a few sex toy superheroes who are reducing waste, one orgasm at a time, about how to be a more conscious consumer.
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For Mark Ricketts, co-founder of Fuze Toys, protecting the planet has been his mission since launching the brand over 20 years ago. “Luckily, the rest of the industry is just starting to catch up with us,” he says. Fuze is known for their medical-grade silicone toys that are made in Canada and built to last a lifetime. Since the toys don’t contain electronics, it increases the chances of it being recyclable. “Whatever you do, some form of waste is inevitable and we do everything we can to minimize that,” says Mark. Through their Environmental Stewardship program, the brand works toward achieving a neutral carbon footprint by planting trees every spring, collecting and conserving water, minimizing the amount of packaging (and making sure it’s all recyclable), using renewable forms of energy to make and deliver the toys and more. Plus, a large portion of the proceeds go towards environmental protection. “Every single decision we have ever made has been to protect what we already have,” says Mark.
WOW Tech Group has also made big strides recently with their Womanizer Premium Eco, the first pleasure air sex toy made from sustainable, reusable materials. “We were looking for something that was safe for the body but also had eco-friendly benefits at the beginning and end of its lifecycle,” says Womanizer marketing expert Katie Collard of Biolene, a biodegradable bio-plastic made from cornstarch. It still has the same soft and supple feel of the other Womanzier products, but it is much better for the environment. The toy can also be taken apart and properly recycled, and the battery can be replaced to continue its lifespan. The packaging is plastic-free and the paper used is FSC-certified. Plus, with every Premium Echo sold, Womanizer plants a tree. “Every single small change makes a difference,” says Katie.
Canadian multidisciplinary artist Lauren Goodman makes hand-carved dildos from wood offcuts as part of her “by feel” project. While working at a furniture shop, she noticed the amount of waste that was being produced and asked her coworkers, “Why don’t we make sculptural, functional art with it?” Lauren chooses the scraps based on thickness and durability — walnut is a go-to. She then sketches and carves out the desired shape, sands it down and seals the final product (so there’s no need to worry about splinters). “I encourage people to challenge the norms and try new materials,” she says. If you enjoy dildos made from glass or porcelain (which are great eco-friendly options that can be easily recycled), she says you’ll enjoy wood, too.
Sustainability means something different to everyone, but for the artist, a large part of it is being a conscious consumer: buying local, handmade and quality toys that are built to last. “Long-lasting objects are a wonderful thing to create with that sentiment that it reduces our consumption,” says Lauren. “You don’t need as much.” If you’re interested in buying one of her wooden dildos, she will be launching a new collection in the fall.
Here are some of our favourite sex toys that are not only good for you but good for the planet, too — like Gaia’s biodegradable vibrator, which will naturally break down within 47 to 90 days in a commercial compost facility.