In this post:
- Nic tackles the ins and outs of safe sex for enviro lovers. (Cue Barry Brown “Sex bomb” background mooosic)
- We explore the question, "Can we make a better world through more bang-bang?"
- Take a peek into the Next Generation of condoms being developed in an Australian coastal city.
- What has happened to the 'Too Hard' Basket?
When we first tell people we are living waste-free, the initial reaction can range from “Oh yeah, I heard of a chick in America who did that...” to “Awesome, I’d love to live more like that!” and occasionally “How is that possible, you freaks”. A lively conversation normally follows with questions about what to do with all manner of common household waste. But. When people find the courage to ask, there is always a burning curiosity about two subjects that most are hesitant to ask about....
- Sex! (Well of course...) Is there such a thing as enviro-safe sex?
- Periods. What is a waste free girl to do every month when the red flag is flying? Prepare to be amazed at the options when Bee lifts the red curtain. Look for it next post, 1 July.
Condoms and Sexy Time with Nic
Question: "Is enviro-safe sex even possible?"
The health saving invention called a CONDOM is known by many a name. Jimmy hat, rubber hat, frenchie, naughty bags, a wrapper, rubber, rubberman, bullet proof vest, safety tool, insurance glove, wetsuit, venus shirt, willie warmer. Despite the many sizes, textures, flavors and colours available, condoms have two main jobs to do:
Job 1 - Be a physical barrier contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Job 2 - Protect both parties against sexually transmitted infections. (STI's)
Otherwise, face it, does anyone really fantasize about saying to their lover in the throes of passion, "Oh wait a bit, let me fiddle with this little packet and put a sensation reducing bit of stretchy tree sap over my Willie..."
No. Uh huh. Not so much. However the reluctance to use a condom can result in unplanned babies, very unpleasant illnesses being passed around and, in the worst cases, a slow, lingering illness and eventual death. All very persuasive reasons to pull out that bit of rubber.
Unfortunately, there are environmental impacts of condom use as latex rubber does not degrade easily. Most condoms end up in land fill, sometimes even discarded without regard in public places.
Condoms are either made from latex or polyurethane. While latex, is biodegradable, they take to long to break down and if they are mixed with other materials such as lubricant it may take longer to break down and has other environment impacts. Polyurethane is a synthetic non-biodegradable plastic meaning these condoms won’t break down, ever!
The bad news is that there is currently no condom that is biodegradable. The good news...keep reading! .
What is an environmentally conscious and safe sex practicing couple to do? We are not rooting for no sex at all (see what I did there?) Don't worry, we have done some research and have discovered that there are a bunch of new 'sustainable' condoms coming into the market.
Green condoms are the latest contribution from companies who take responsibility for sourcing rubber from sustainable latex plantations. They have fair-trade certified facility that manufactures ethically sourced condoms and use no toxic chemicals in the end product. Some of these companies even offer to deliver your condoms by bike to reduce the carbon footprint.
One such company is Australian HERO Condoms. They started as a 2012 university assignment. Not only do they have a sustainable manufacturing process but they are making sex even better with their 1 for 1 promise. For every condom you buy here in Australia, a condom will be given out in Africa, helping to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS! So now you can have sex and save a life. The more sex the better!
For more fair trade options available around the world, check out:
Unfortunately these condoms will still end up in land fill, and 1 for 1 means double the waste. :( Currently a trade off worth making to preserve human health and protect against population increase, as both are far more wasteful than condoms in the big picture.
But here is the good news:
'Next Generation' biodegradable condoms are being worked on in Australia’s coastal town of Wollongong! A team of researchers from the University Of Wollongong (UOW) have received Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding to help develop a Next Gen condom that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use”.
Check them out on this feature by ABC"s Catalyst program, aired 7th April 2015. (Persist past the first 15 seconds, it's worth it!)
Their belief is that a condom that enhances pleasure will be eagerly used rather than avoided, as current ones are. Bedroom talk could turn to "Hang on Honey! I'll get my pleasure power pack on and take us both to Ohh town!"
In the bigger picture, more appeal to use a condom will assist in countries where significant social, economic and environmental problems stem from lack of birth control and the spread of STI's.
The UOW team is working to develop a replacement for latex condoms using new materials called tough hydrogels. The advantage of hydrogels is that they can be tailored to feel, look and act more like natural and they are biodegradable! Hydrogels are already very found in numerous familiar applications from contact lenses to food products. Hopefully we’ll be able to purchase them soon for bedroom use too.
You can check them out further and follow their progress on twitter by clicking on the image below.
"What about no condoms?"
From a purely waste creating perspective there are other options that eliminate the need for condoms. We won’t go into detail for all options available as this is a very personal choice and best discussed with your Doctor, or at least lots of internet searching about the various options. If you are in a relationship where you don’t need protection from STI’s here are a few no-to-low waste options:
The Pill: This is a common contraceptive choice. If you are using it already here is how you can make it low waste. The pill comes in a foil and plastic packet that can be scraped apart. Once separated, you can recycle the plastic and foil components.
Contraceptive Implant: A small tube of hormones that gets put under your skin. It lasts approximately three years and produces minimal medical waste. This can have significant side effects so do your research well!
The Billings Method. Bee has used this method successfully for more than 10 years and avoids the use of any hormone or invasive contraception. This method teaches women and their partners to track and understand the fertility cycle of the woman. It has been long recognised as an effective method for either contraception or for improving your chances of getting knocked up, if that's what you want.
Best of all, there is ZERO WASTE produced from this method.
From their website: “The Billings Ovulation Method™ has been subjected to more scientific research than any other method of regulating fertility. It has been independently trialled by the World Health Organisation and other reputable bodies and found to be as successful for avoiding pregnancy as any method of family planning available today.”
"So, Does Enviro-safe sex really exist?"
Yes. Yes there is such thing as enviro-safe sex. While condoms are currently a waste product, you can make consumer choices to buy more sustainably sourced condoms that support great initiatives. If you look at the big picture then, yes, when you support companies such as Hero Condoms more bang-bang will make a better world.
If you want truly enviro-safe sex, with no waste products at all, then the billings methods is the way to go.
Waste Weigh in no 5 & 6
With Bee travelling quite a bit recently we missed a post in June. As a result we have a months worth of rubbish to account for. The good news is that in all her travels she brought home only 18 grams of soft plastic waste. :)
Total household waste recorded this month was only 20.42 kgs with 17.3 kg saved from going into landfill. This is equivalent to almost HALVING our waste production this month. Woop Woop!
- 8.5kg food waste (4.25kg /fortnight) = MAJOR REDUCTION!
- 2.49kg Recycling (1.24kgs /fortnight) = also MAJOR REDUCTION!
- 43gm Soft plastic (21.5gm /fortnight) = Another BIG REDUCTION!
- 9kg Kitty litter (4.5 /fortnight) = Some reduction.
What happened to the too hard basket this month?
Great news. We had nothing new to add to the too hard basket so we don't have one this month. Happy dance time! However, look out for our mid year clutter clean up in July. We anticipate a reluctant return of the basket. Sigh.
Finally, if you found this post informative or useful please remember to like and share this post. Next post will be full of awesome information such as "What does peak female health look like". If you are a women then you'll enjoy reading it and perhaps even learn how to celebrate your amazing body even more. If you are not a woman but live with or know any, then you need to read it even more!
Until then, stay safe and take care of yourselves and your surrounds.
Nic and Bee