- 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year.
- Less than 9% of plastic gets recycled.
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.
Your Guide to The Most Eco-Friendly Sex Toys
“We know that plastic currently ends up in the waste stream—landfills and oceans—and it’s not great for your body,” says Cole.
Sure, plastic is a valuable resource. But it’s also unsustainable AF.
While sex toys are a rare enough commodity that none of us are going to single-handedly destroy the planet in our pursuit of pleasure, living with intent is never a bad idea.
READ: Is Your Sex Toy Ethical?
Isabelle Uren—a certified sex expert, writer and website manager for Bedbible.com— encourages consumers to “shop for a few high-quality sex toys that will satisfy you for many years, rather than buying lots of low-quality toys that will end up in the back of a drawer or the landfill.”
So let’s talk eco-friendly sex toys.
What to Look For
First things first.
- What to Look For
- Materials Matter
- Do Your Homework
- Be Wary of Greenwashing
- Rechargeable Versus Battery-Powered Toys
- Make Your Toys Multitask
- Extend Your Sex Toys' Lives
- Mind Where it's Made
- The Future of Sex Toys Looks Green
- Love. Not War. Amore
- Le Wand Arch
- Fun Factory Share
- Womanizer Premium Eco
- Gleam Lube
Carol Queen—who holds a doctorate in sexology, is the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations and co-authored "The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone"—says consumers need to ask: What is the sex toy made of?
In other words: Is it recyclable? How long will it last before it needs to be replaced? Does it use batteries?
Some people consider carbon footprint, too. “How far does the toy have to be shipped to get to you or the store where you bought it?” asks Queen.
And if it's a product like lubricant, Queen asks whether it's made in an eco-friendly manner without problematic chemicals.
That's because some chemicals will throw off a vagina's natural salt and pH balances, increasing the possibility of bacterial vaginosis. Be sure to avoid lubes made with benzocaine, glycerin, petrochemicals (like propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol and petroleum) and preservatives (like parabens, citric acid and benzyl alcohol).
Choose a material that is both good for your body and the environment.
“While battery and ability to take apart the toy for recycling are key when looking for eco-friendly toys, the number one thing you should be concerned with is the materials,” Cole says.
Uren suggests choosing durable materials that have a lower environmental impact or that can be recycled—such as glass, silicone, wood (coated with a body-safe finish) and stainless steel. “These all score top points for being body-safe, as well,” she says.
(And as a bonus, materials like glass and stainless steel are extra-susceptible to heating or cooling—making them great options for exploring temperature play.)
“Materials like rubber and jelly can trap unwanted bacteria in pores, which can lead to infections like thrush and bacterial vaginosis—all the things you want to avoid,” says Cole. “An eco-friendly material will still feel smooth and skin-like; but without the yucky side effects.”
Queen adds that, although silicone isn’t readily recyclable, silicone dildos, especially, will last a really long time. “Silicone vibes too," she continued, "except the vibrator part will likely give up before the toy that encases it—in which case maybe use it as a dildo!”
Do Your Homework
“Figure out what type of stimulation you enjoy before shopping to minimize the risk of buying something you won't enjoy,” says Uren.
“Read customer reviews of the product and watch YouTube videos before buying to lower the risk of buying a sub-par sex toy that won't get used.”
Uren also advises shoppers to double-check the product size before ordering: “Looks can be deceiving online—and there's nothing worse than getting your new sex toy only to discover it's way too big or too small,” she says. “To get the most accurate feel for a product before buying it, go into a sex toy store so you can gauge the size and feel the materials.”
Be Wary of Greenwashing
“Shop for eco-materials—but be wary of greenwashing,” Uren advises.
“Many 'eco' materials actually need to be processed in a very specific way and can't just be recycled at a regular recycling station or chucked in the compost—even if the companies make it seem that way. So, a lot of them will end up being thrown away anyway.”
Rechargeable Versus Battery-Powered Toys
In most cases, you’re better off using rechargeable batteries over disposable ones.
“If you are shopping for motorized toys, look for ones that are rechargeable—or invest in a pack of rechargeable batteries,” Uren suggests. That's because rechargeable batteries last longer than single-use ones; and they cost less and reduce environmental waste. (Pro tip: Your local recycling center can help you find out how to safely dispose of worn-out batteries of all types.)
Make Your Toys Multitask
Be creative with your sex toys—safely, of course!
“Many sex toys can be used to stimulate lots of different areas,” says Uren. “Just because it's marketed as a clitoral stimulator, it doesn't mean it won't feel fantastic on your nipples! Just remember that only anal-safe toys with a flared base can be used anally.”
Extend Your Sex Toys' Lives
Take care of your sex toys and charging cables so they can live a long and happy life.
“Just like your laptop or phone, be careful with the batteries! Don’t overcharge them, keep them clean and in a dry and safe space. Don’t expose your toys to high temperatures—higher than 55 degrees Celsius—and make sure you wash them after use using a sex toy cleaner or antibacterial soap,” says Cole.
Mind Where it's Made
Many sex toys are manufactured overseas, especially in China, but there are some that are made in the U.S. Since—seriously—lots of the things that we buy are made elsewhere these days, I wouldn't suggest making an exception to your shopping behaviors over sex toys.
But plenty of people do try to live as sustainably as they can; so this can be an important consideration for some.
A handful of specialty adult stores, like LoveHoney in the UK, now have recycling programs for used erotic goods—often partnering with contractors to sterilize and process reusable components.
The Future of Sex Toys Looks Green
Cole says we can expect to see more modular and biodegradable sex products available in the very near future—with a green consideration on the toys themselves and on their packaging and accessories like charging cables.
“Presently, there are some great examples—like the Womanizer Premium Eco. This toy uses a biodegradable material called Biolene, which doesn’t degrade the quality of the toy but is great for the environment,” Cole says.
Using recyclable materials—right down the soy ink on their packaging—Love. Not War. has created a truly sustainable sex toy brand.
You can buy a base unit and mix and match interchangeable heads. If you’re looking for a super-powered pocket-sized bullet vibe, the Amore is our go-to. Plus, they’ve partnered with One Tree Planted to plant a tree with every purchase.
Stainless steel isn’t only a body-safe material; it’s better for the environment too. But that’s not all—the weight creates more pressure, a feeling of fullness and can be used for temperature and sensation play.
When it comes to sustainability, Fun Factory is a leader in the sex toy industry. From plastic-free packaging to super strict material regulation and labor laws, Fun Factory toys are built to last. Right now, we love the Share: a sleek, double-ended dildo with an adjustable hinge that’s great for harness-free pegging.
The PREMIUM Eco is made from Biolene, a bio-based material, and can be completely disassembled into individual parts for recycling.
This water-based personal lubricant is formulated using purely sea-kelp-based glycerin. And it feels like the real thing—providing a silky-smooth and comforting glide with no sticky or tacky residue.
(FYI: You should use water-based lube with silicone sex toys and condoms.)
Sourcing an eco-friendly sex toy isn't exactly straightforward—there are a number of factors to consider, such as materials, manufacturing and power source, and you have to prioritize those most important to you.
But it's worth it: We shouldn't have to choose between climaxes and the climate.
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says