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Ecofriendly Condoms
Recycling Information for Condoms

One of the most common things environmentally conscientious people want to know about condoms is if there are any ecofriendly condoms. As they certainly are contributors to how big an ecological footprint you are leaving, we will review a few different types of condoms to help you choose what is best for you and the environment.

Latex Condoms

Most condoms are currently made from latex. One thing to keep in mind when using them is that latex condoms can only be used with water based, aloe based and silicone lubricants. Do not use oil based lubricants as the oil will break down the latex and destroy the protective nature of the condom. This is also important to note when using sex toys made from latex as the chemical reaction from oils can break down the toy and leech chemicals into your blood stream when inserted into your body.

Lisa Lawless
By Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Sexuality Expert

CEO & Founder of
Holistic Wisdom, Inc. & NAASAS

Copyright: Holistic Wisdom- Do NOT Copy Warning

Copyright © Holistic Wisdom, Inc.

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Regarding their ecological footprint, there is still controversy as to whether or not latex condoms are biodegradable and what effects additives and lubricants have on their biodegradability. Latex is biodegradable as it is an all natural substance made from the sap of rubber trees.

However, latex condoms are not composed of 100% latex and they do not biodegrade when they are in water, which is one reasons why it is not good to flush your used condoms. Used latex condoms are still best sent to the landfill as flushing condoms down the toilet clogs pipes, treatment plants and rivers. As of yet, no one has taken up the job of recycling these items so don't throw them in the recycling bin.

Polyurethane Condoms

People who have allergic reactions to latex can use polyurethane condoms which are made of a type of soft plastic created by Durex Avanti in the 1990s. They are thinner than latex condoms and more expensive. You can use oil, water and aloe based lubricants with them. However, these types of condoms will not biodegrade and are a lesser ecofriendly option.

Polyisoprene Condoms

Polyisoprene condoms were approved in 2008 and are made from a new latex formula that can be used by those with latex allergies. They are a synthetic latex that does not contain the natural proteins which are the source of latex allergies. It is also a thinner form of latex than traditional latex condoms but thicker than polyurethane condoms. They are more expensive than traditional latex condoms, but less expensive than polyurethane condoms. They are more form fitting and stretchy than polyurethane condoms. Like traditional latex condoms, polyisoprene condoms can not be used with oil based lubricants. Unfortunately, like polyurethane condoms they are not biodegradable.

Lambskin Condoms

Natural membrane, lambskin or sheepskin condoms are made from the intestinal lining of sheep or lambs. This is the oldest type of condom still being used today. The natural membrane is somewhat porous and is therefore not recommended for protection against certain STDs. This type does, however, protect against pregnancy and bacterial STIs. Some users find these condoms to be more comfortable than those made of latex. They have a strong odor that some find a bit overwhelming compared to latex or polyurethane and are the most expensive of condoms currently available. These are biodegradable condoms which makes them an environmentally conscientious choice.

Silicone Coated Condoms

Many people are under the impression that a silicone coated condom is one that has a solid silicone layer over latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene. This is an incorrect assumption. A silicone coated condom is nothing more than a prelubricated condom that is made out or latex or polyurethane and has silicone lubricant used to lubricate it.

Silicone Condoms

There is only one silicone condom and it is still being reviewed for approval by the FDA. It is to be released in 2014 and appears as though it is going to revolutionize the entire condom industry with the unique designs that it comes in. The ability to recycle is yet to be determined, as is the ability to reuse it. To learn more about these condoms see Origami Condoms.

Lubricants & Spermicides In Condoms

Lubricants and spermicide are often coated on condoms and referred to as prelubricated. At this time, it is unclear as to how this may alter the decomposition of a condom. Currently there are no studies that show how long it takes condoms, lubricated or not, to break down. Regardless of condom biodegradability, most landfills are over-capacity and do not provide the ideal environment nor the main ingredient of air necessary for effective decomposition.

One thing to explore is the lubricants that your condoms come prelubricated with as some can contain toxins. Examples of controversial toxins are parabens. See more regarding this topic through our helpful article on lubricants.

Birth Control Alternatives

Condoms are an effective form of contraception and STI / STD protection, however, if you're worried about accumulating extra trash there are other options out there. If you and your significant other are both monogamous and have tested negative for STDs, you might want to consider a birth control method that produces less waste. However, make sure to research the method you choose as you may be surprised by some of the health issues that can arise from using certain birth control methods. The most important thing is to be an empowered consumer of these products armed with education regarding their effect on your body and your home... the earth.

No Recycling for Condoms Outer Wrapping

The plastic and foil wrappers that latex condoms are packaged in are also not biodegradable and this should be taken into consideration as well. It would be excellent if consumers were able to pressure condom companies into making more ecofriendly wrapping for their products.


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