Make sustainability sexy again
WORDS BY DANIELLE MUSTARDE. LEAD IMAGE LOVEHONEY
Eco-friendly. Sustainable. Reusable. While across the globe we’re faced with the reality of global warming, buzzwords like these can be found everywhere.
As we know, one of the simplest ways we can each do our bit is to make small but immediate changes such as choosing products which are long-lasting, shopping second-hand and, where possible, avoiding single-use plastics. There’s one place, however, where many of us – perhaps particularly in the LGBTQI community – hoard a potential mass of plastics in bold, bright (and au naturelle) colours – our sex toy collections.
Don’t worry dildo-devotees, lube-lovers and anal bead-aficionados. We’re not suggesting you shun your toys. Instead, we chat to those in the know to suss out how to best give a toss while tossing off…
Since its creation in 2017, more than 60,000 sex toys have been recycled under Lovehoney’s Rabbit Amnesty. The UK’s biggest sex toy retailer created “the world’s most successful sex toy recycling scheme” in a bid to save customers putting their sex toys out in their recycling bins for all to see or, alternatively, taking them down to the local recycling plant.
“Recycling regulations mean that all electrical equipment (including vibrators) must be disposed of at a designated electrical waste collection centre. This means that you shouldn’t just chuck your dead vibrator in the kitchen bin,” they say.
More than 1,000 electrical waste centres have been set up at recycling sites around the UK. “But who wants the hassle and embarrassment of taking your dog-eared defunct sex toy down?”
According to Rabbit Amnesty, unwanted electrical equipment is the UK’s fastest growing type of waste. “Many electrical items can be repaired or recycled, saving natural resources and the environment. If you do not recycle, electrical equipment will end up in landfill where hazardous substances will leak out and cause soil and water contamination – harming wildlife and also human health. Instead, Lovehoney customers can send us their battered and bruised sex toys and we’ll recycle them responsibly. They can also send us other electrical items such as mobile phones, toasters and hairdryers, because we’re nice like that.”
So, once the Lovehoney recycling team receive our long-beloved bullets, what exactly do they do with them? “We don’t refurbish them so they can be used again – the toys get smashed into bits and the parts are divided and recycled. Everything we receive gets checked to make sure it qualifies for the recycling scheme. The toys are then sorted into containers and sent to our nearest WEEE Recycling Plant. They’re pretty used to receiving mountains of colourful phalluses from us now.”
Already a popular service, the Rabbit Amnesty team receives 20-30 items a week on average and, once recycled, your loyal old double-ender could end up as anything from Tupperware to an entirely new, fancy gadget. “The possibilities really are endless.”
Have an unloved Rabbit ready for recycling?
Send yours to: Lovehoney Recycling, 100 Locksbrook Road, Bath, BA1 3EN ♻️
OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD
As well as physically recycling our sex toys when the time comes to retire them, what about recycling them when one relationship ends and another begins? Though perhaps a no-go for some, is there actually anything wrong with reusing sex toys with new partners? Our friends over at Autostraddle’s answer? “Nope, not wrong at all.”
“As long as your toys are medical grade silicone or another sterilisable material and haven’t been damaged, there is no scientific reason that you need to throw out your sex toys,” says A.E. Osworth. “Think about it – you do not throw out your genitalia when you get into a new relationship and that’s not even something you can sterilise! Keeping your old sex toys is infinitely safer!”
Their advice for those who might not be so comfortable with the idea? “If you’re worried that keeping your sex toys from partner to partner is weird, talk to your partner. If they think it’s strange, okay. What do they need to not feel strange? Talk it out! This is not a weird topic for conversation.”
SUSTAINABILITY IS SEXY
Okay, so now we know where to send our faithful old toys to to be recycled and that reusing sex toys with new partners can be perfectly safe (sterilisation people!). But how about changes we can make to the way we shop for sex toys in the future? Is there green gadgetry available already?
Writer, broadcaster and sex educator Alix Fox, co-host of BBC Radio 1’s Unexpected Fluids (and script consultant for Netflix’s hit series, Sex Education) has a whole host of worthy-wanking tips up her sleeve. “Once DIVA readers have recycled their pleasure treasure chest full of dusty dud dildos that never really thrilled-Os, sagging strap-ons that failed to get them off, and rabbits more dead than the victims of Watership Down,” Alix says, it’s time we seek out, “Toys to fuck with that aren’t made from materials that fuck over the planet.
“First, check out Gaia Echo – the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable bullet vibe, made from a starch-based bioplastic called Biofel. Then there’s NobEssence’s tactile wooden G-spot massagers – thankfully highly polished to avoid splinters – or I highly recommend you sign up to a class with ceramic artist Adele Brydges who’ll help you dick-orate your own eco-friendly pottery dildo or butt plug (and support an indie artist to boot).”
And a word on lube, perhaps? “Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked Lubricant became the first carbon neutral personal lube in 2018 and they were the first company to develop an organic product which was named the safest lubricant on the market in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. I love how transparent they are about their ingredients – and how they explain the role each plays.
LeafVibes.com have won awards for their eco-friendly sex toys, and CalExotics make a vibrator that comes with its own miniature solar panel for recharging – before you stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
As well as being mindful about the kinds of sex toys and products we buy, Alix has another suggestion as to how we can really get stuck in at the forefront of green sex gadgetry – design your own!
“In addition to recycling disappointingly dead bed accessories, why not design your own and creating something even more efficient, effective and sustainable? Lovehoney’s Future Sex 2030 competition invites would-be inventors to come up with ingenious new concepts for the sex toys of the future: solving problems, serving needs, adding imagination and, ahem – filling holes in the market. “There are cash prizes to be won, plus royalties on your invention if it’s brought to life and sold.”
There you have it. Go forth and recycle, reuse, buy sustainable (and sexy) – or even design your own down-to-earth dildo. After all, the world would be a better place if only we all gave more of a toss. #SustainabilityIsSexy
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