Environmentalists are quick to condemn the condom. It is a product often made from non-biodegradable latex, or even worse, synthetic materials such as polyisoprene, and is the definition of a single use item… So at first glance, condoms don’t exactly scream ‘eco-friendly.’
Condom companies are rarely transparent about their ingredients. They use non-visible additives and chemicals, even in ‘natural latex’ condoms’, which are rarely 100% natural and thus will not decompose for thousands of years. What’s more, most regular condoms contain casein, an animal by-product derived from goats/cow milk, meaning they are not vegan or necessarily cruelty free either.
Nowadays, alternatives do exist in the form of vegan condoms from brands such as HANX and Sustain Natural, which instead use a vegetable binder to guarantee smoothness. Otherwise, you have the option of using lambskin condoms. Lambskin condoms are entirely biodegradable, if you can stomach them, but unfortunately don’t protect against STIs, meaning they are much less effective when compared with other options on the market.
What are the most eco-friendly condom brands available in Europe?
HANX is a British brand creating gynaecologist approved, vegan condoms that are biodegradable, as they are made from fair rubber. We saw for ourselves that they are ultra thin, smooth and actually smell really nice too. Not only do we think this is pretty revolutionary in the condom industry, we’re fans of the understated, minimal packaging too. The small, white box with ‘HANX’ written in delicate gold letters is completely discreet and makes buying them an easy experience with little embarrassment on all sides, both for women and men.
If that’s not enough, HANX offer a condom delivery service straight to your door, so you don’t even have to set foot in a pharmacy and submit to the wandering eyes of the cashier.
Sustain Natural is a condom company founded by an American father and daughter duo, Jeffrey and Meika Hollender. They believe we should be focusing more on reading the labels of the condoms we buy, because in the end, they end up in the most intimate and sensitive areas of our bodies! Their ultra-thin condoms are super safe (triple tested in fact), made of fair rubber and are Nitrosamine free. Nitrosamine is a carcinogenic chemical that is produced when liquid latex is heated up to a point at which it becomes solid, and not all condom manufacturers actively remove it from their latex.
The brand is entirely sustainable, in more ways than one. The Fair Trade rubber is made in a solar-powered factory in a plantation in India, where they pay their workers fair wages and treat them with respect. Despite being sold mostly in the US, you can buy them in Europe from sustainable sites such as Free People.
Green Condom Club
This Swiss founded ‘green condom club’ is the brainchild of Gabrielle Lods, who was horrified by the reality of the chemicals that make up most of the condoms we know and use regularly. She did the research and found that condoms were even giving people allergies, due to harmful and synthetic ingredients entering their systems. So, she resolved to manufacture her own ‘green condoms’ which are transparent, vegan and sustainable. They do not contain any toxic chemicals and clearly list the ingredients used for manufacturing, as well as being produced and tested according to the strictest CE and ISO norms to be safe and reliable!
Fair Squared is a versatile, vegan condom brand from Cologne, Germany, with plenty of options you can choose from. Opt for either Original, Ultra Thin, Sensitive Dry, XL or Max Perform. The condoms are made from natural latex and fairtrade rubber, ethically farmed in South India, where the company aim to improve the working and living conditions of the primary producers in Kerala. They are certified with a CE mark and tested to the highest possible International standard ISO 4074 – so they guarantee you will get a high quality and safe condom to rival the leading brands. Fair Squared sell more than just condoms too – we browsed their organic, fairtrade skincare too and a natural rubber Period Cup for a more eco-friendly time of the month.
The most important thing to know about condoms is this: Do not flush them down the toilet. They find their way into our oceans and destroy marine life. Instead, put your natural latex condoms in the compost heap, so that they can biodegrade with everything else.
But according to some experts, condoms are actually good for environment…
You might not believe us, but there are plenty of environmental experts who believe that condoms are the single most important sexual innovation to have been invented. Surprised? The reason is simple, but it may not have crossed your mind as an environmental factor. More condoms = fewer pregnancies, and thus less growth in population.
According to one study, choosing not to have a child is 20 times more effective than recycling. Meika and Jeffrey Hollender from Sustain Natural argue that condoms are a good thing, as they contribute to population control. Given that humans are the number one threat to the environment, preventing unplanned pregnancies is incredibly important.
Other examples of advocacy include the Centre for Biological Diversity launching an ‘Endangered Species Condoms project’ in the US in 2009, to raise awareness around the rapid growth of our human population and how it is pushing other species off the planet. Since then, the project has distributed hundreds of thousands of free, wildlife themed condoms across the United States. According to them, the ‘population explosion’ is hugely impactful on the environment, accelerating climate change, habitat loss, ocean acidification and resource depletion. On Valentine’s Day this year, in 2019, the same centre handed out another 40,000 colourful, wildlife themed condoms to the top wedding cities in America, such as Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and New York, with the same desired effect.
Equally, in June 2019 in London, a demonstration was staged called Condoms Cut Carbon, to highlight the urgent issue of population size. 12,000 protestors attended the mass climate lobby, many wearing giant condom robes, urging the British government to take the issue more seriously.
All in all, there are plenty of eco warriors in favour of promoting condom use, and even handing them out left, right and centre. But if you want to go the extra mile? Why not try a greener brand of condoms next time and be safe in the knowledge that your sex life isn’t destroying our oceans, and your used condoms will decompose safely.