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Plastic-free sex, part 2: "Pedro offers you his protection"

Posted By Beth Terry On February 13, 2008 @ 7:41 am In feminine hygiene and adult products,Personal Musings | 17 Comments

Couldn’t resist the above. In our house, we quote Napoleon Dynamite whenever possible. Clearly, this post has nothing to do with Pedro, but everything to do with protected sex. And despite the fun title, this post is going to be more serious than yesterday’s, so once again, consider yourself warned.

Looking over yesterday’s post on using olive oil for lube [1], I realized it was written from a totally married hetero-centric point of view. Which makes sense, considering this is the blog of a married woman in a monogamous het relationship. I don’t worry about whether or not using olive oil will break a condom because, like my kitties, I’ve been fixed. But you can believe that if I were the parent of a sexually active teenager, I’d be harping on them night and day to use a condom every single time and would make sure they had access to as much water-based condom-friendly lube as they wanted. (Oh, what an annoying, creepy parent I’d be. You readers with young kids, just think what you have to look forward to!)

So, let’s talk about condoms. They’re made of latex, polyurethane plastic, or natural animal skin. According to Treehugger [2], the “jury is still out as to whether latex condoms are biodegradable and what effects additives and lubricants might have on biodegradability.” Polyurethane condoms are good for people allergic to latex but are not biodegradable at all. And natural animal skin condoms protect from pregnancy but not disease. It’s important to discard condoms, latex or plastic, in the garbage rather than flushing them down the toilet and adding them to our already plastic-filled waterways. And all three kinds come packaged in plastic wrappers that are another source of plastic waste. BUT considering the possible alternatives, disease or unwanted preganancy, I would consider condom plastic in the same category as my plastic eyedrop containers or plastic prescription bottles. Why?

Because condoms save lifes. No other form of birth control besides latex or polyurethane condoms protects us from life-threatening diseases like HIV and possibly HPV [3]. And if you think you’re sparing the environment by not using disposable condoms to prevent disease (an argument I used to hear in my young activist days), compare the small amount of spermicide and plastic in a few condoms to the toxic drug cocktail you’d be subjected to if you contracted HIV, and I think you’ll see which has the greater environmental impact. (And let’s take a second to be grateful for those toxic cocktails that are keeping so many people alive.)

Okay, second over. So, what if you’re in an adult long-term monogamous relationship and have decided that your risk of contracting disease is small but you’re also heterosexual so you need to prevent pregnancy? Burbanmom, in the same post I linked to yesterday [4], describes how she chose the most eco-friendly birth control method for her. And Treehugger gives a quick comparison [2] of the environmental impact of other alternatives. What does Fake Plastic Fish say?

Choose the most reliable method of birth control that you will actually stick with, and use it EVERY TIME.

This post isn’t really about plastic-free sex after all because to me, using any reliable method of birth control every time (unless, of course, you’re trying to get pregnant) is one of the most pro-environmental things any of us breeders can do. Even if our chosen birth control method involves a bit of plastic or hormone, the environmental impact is going to be much lower than bringing another human being into the world who will, over a lifetime, consume a lot of energy and generate a lot of waste.

Consider these facts from Population Connection [5]:

    • Our world population has grown more since 1950 than it has in the previous four million years. With these additional people come additional demands on our earth: eighty percent of the original rain forests have been cleared or degraded; one-third to one half of the Earth’s land surface has been transformed.

 

  • We lose one or more entire species of animal or plant life every 20 minutes— some 27,000 species a year. This rate and scale of extinction has not occurred in 65 million years.

 

 

  • Americans are only 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 25% of the world’s resources. Resulting social and environmental problems reverberate around the world.

 

And from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [6]:

 

  • During 2005, an estimated 899,000 children [8] in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were determined by Child Protective Services to be victims of abuse or neglect.

 

And from Unicef [9]:

  • There are an estimated 133 million children who are orphans (children aged 0–17 who have lost one or both parents) world wide.

Numbers and statistics. But the lives they represent are real. Condoms are disposable. Children should not be. Do I sound like a public service message?

Sorry. I’m not here to give an opinion about how many children each person should bring into this world. And I’m not here to be self-righteous about Michael’s and my decision not to have any children. It would be easy, after the fact, to claim that our choice was a sacrifice we made for the environment, but that would be a lie. Our reasons were as personal as those of anyone else deciding whether or not to pass along their genes. And finally, I’m not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do in the case of an unplanned pregnancy.

But imagine a world in which we adults are truly mindful of the consequences of our actions and take measures to be responsible each time reproduction is a possibility. Imagine a world in which nearly every child is planned, cared for, and loved. Yes, accidents happen occasionally. No birth control method is 100% effective except for abstinence and certain medical procedures. And sometimes an unplanned child can end up being the great joy of his/her parents’ lives. But in order to be able to take care of each other and the planet, I believe we need to treat the creation of our family with thought and care for its impact on the environment and our society as a whole.

So anyway, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Let’s be safe, smart, and responsible in whatever way we choose to celebrate. Sex talk over. Join me tomorrow for my latest recipe. I promise, it’ll be G-rated.


Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/02/plastic-free-sex-part-2-pedro-offers/

URLs in this post:

[1] using olive oil for lube: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/02/plastic-free-sex-part-1-reducing/

[2] Treehugger: http://green.msn.com/articles/article.aspx?aid=89

[3] possibly HPV: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/issues-action/std-hiv/condoms-hpv-7600.htm

[4] the same post I linked to yesterday: http://burbanmom.blogspot.com/2008/01/161-recreational-sex.html

[5] Population Connection: http://www.populationconnection.org

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/children/index.html

[7] 500,000 children in foster care: http://myplasticfreelife.com/images/afcars_report15.pdf

[8] 899,000 children: http://myplasticfreelife.com/images/acf-child-maltreatment-2005.pdf

[9] Unicef: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_35903.html

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