This article was featured as part of an uncensored column called “Stay Sustainable” with Three Mag. 

I’m going to go right ahead and say it: the most sustainable way to have sex is to have a good time and then go fuck the system. 

Jokes aside, there are many reasons why individual sustainable changes are not enough to “save the world” and are often a distraction from the fact that we need systemic change. But this article is not about that. Here are some that are… you should read them when you’re done with this one.

Just because our individual actions aren’t enough to achieve a better world, doesn’t mean they don’t count at all – especially when those choices can be better for our health or support a small business that actually gives a shit.

Here are more sustainable sex options to consider:


The most sustainable condom?

Considering additional planetary resources that would be used in treating an STI (or giving life to another human), the most sustainable condom around is likely the safest one!

That being said, a number of condoms in South Africa are imported and are made of synthetic latex which is a byproduct of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) is causing major environmental degradation and (according to the majority of scientists in the world) causing the world to heat up in a way that threatens our livelihoods. 

Most latex condoms also make use of casein (a milk protein) in their production – a byproduct of industrial animal agriculture, which is exploitative and doing grave harm to the planet.

There are a number of more eco-friendly condom options available overseas – all of which are vegan and use natural latex or rubber. Unfortunately, none seem to be available or made in South Africa – yet – but they can be bought online. Of course shipping an individual box of condoms has a higher carbon footprint than if a retailer had to import in bulk, so putting pressure on retailers to offer more eco-friendly options is also a good place to start. 

For those who are vegan or allergic to latex, SKYN condoms offer an alternative and are available locally, albeit are still made from a fossil fuel byproduct. 


Eco Sex Toys

Dephia, a leading South African wholesaler of intimate products offers the Leaf vibrator (literally shaped like a leaf) with claims of eco-friendliness. However, besides rechargeability (which is pretty much the industry standard) and packaging made of recyclable materials, there doesn’t seem to be all too much eco-friendly with this sex toy option. The Leaf is, however, phthalate free with a 100% body-safe silicone finish.

A fully vegan sex toy company based in the UK, Vegan Toys, recently opened with a range of vegan sex toys made from more natural ingredients. Their full range is available for purchase online. Vegan Toys are also trying to change the stigma often associated with self-pleasure which they believe can be exacerbated by intimidating looking sex toys. As such, they have taken to using light-hearted and fun designs to emphasize that “self pleasure should be and is guilt free and enjoyable.” 

Blush Novelties, based in America, recently launched Gaia: the “world’s first biodegradable vibrator. The vibrator is made from “BioFeel”, a bioplastic or polymer compound mixed with cornstarch, making it biodegradable in commercial composting facilities. The vibrator is available for purchase online.

When it comes to disposal one would need to be sure to remove the batteries and potentially the motor first. And, since there are very limited options for commercial composting in South Africa, it may do you well to find a restaurant or hotel who does commercial composting and do a sneaky drop in one of their food waste bins. 

Locally accessible intimate products

OSKE is a cruelty free, vegan lube made in South Africa with natural ingredients. It also comes in fully recyclable packaging. The product is water-based making it safe to use with condoms with less chance of creating any irritation. Oske offers free delivery to anyone in South Africa.

Organic Machine Sensual – Peak is a vegetarian sensual butter to enhance intimate sensations. It has ethically sourced natural ingredients like beeswax and coconut oil. It claims to increase blood flow and heighten sensitivity when applied to your intimate bits. It is nasty-chemical free, with safe and edible ingredients and no additional preservatives, fragrances or colourants. Due to the fact that it is oil based, it should not be used with condoms. 

Two South African companies: Enigma Women and Cannabis Oil South Africa offer one of the latest natural lube alternatives: Cannabis Lube. Cannabis lube is said to “stimulate the erogenous zones of the vagina by acting on the cannabinoid receptors.” It also claims to assist people who experience pain and discomfort during sex more so than conventional lubes. One would need to assess the ingredients to determine if it can be used with condoms.

Certain aspects of sustainable sex may still be difficult in the South African context but it is becoming more achievable. The more we put pressure on retailers to deliver eco-friendly options, the more they will.

Also, don’t forget about fucking that system…if you want keep having good sex on a healthier planet for years to come.