First, I would like to say that I will not see abstinence as an option here. Because sex itself is not the problem. Besides, Nina Rastogi brings it to the point when writing on Slate: “The Green Lantern heartily approves of sex as an eco-friendly activity. Sex ends up being a pretty low-impact way to kill a few hours. (Plus, it can keep your heating bill down.)”. So, no abstinence. Since population growth is definitely a sin in the environmental viewpoint – or at least if the offspring is unwanted – we will need some other tecniques to avoid pregnancy.
The two most common contraceptives are condoms and the pill. Condoms are high on the waste balance – Slate estimates a “used-condom of 1,365 tons” every year – but they give more protection than the pill. The latter has a reputation of being bad for the environment because of releasing hormons into our waters. Now, let’s find out more.
Condoms: The problem with condoms is that the same add-ons which make them resist from breaking in action keep them from degrading, making them an everlasting guest in our landfills. So even if the latex is biodegrabable, the final condom isn’t. The “natural” alternative are lambskin condoms. The same rule goes here as well; they are “biodegradable, but chemical additives may inhibit the process,” we learn from the Slate article. A more reusable alternative would be diaphragms, but as we can read on recyclethis.co.uk they are trickier in use and can lead to health problems.
The Pill: The Pill cotains hormons; that’s how it works. Nina Rastogi explains:“The hormones in these products—either progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen—are known as endocrine disruptors, and women who take the pill end up passing some of them through their urine”. From there they travel happily into our rivers and lakes. This “has been linked to the feminization of male fish” and other problems. The article proposes to switch to a progestin-only contraceptive in order to minimize the amount of hormons. If you want to stick to the pill, think about implants instead in order to reduce packaging. “A one-time shot or implant that lasts three months to three years” definitely also has the advantage of not having to think about it every day.
Recyclethis.co.uk has another option: the so-called IUD‘s. According to them they “are probably the best contraceptive method from the green point of view. They last 5-12 years (depending on the make) and don’t directly produce any waste during that time.” Nevertheless, they don’t protect from STI’s and can have side-effects, so study them well before choosing them.
Of course there are – if you’re in a committed relationship – other options like fertility awareness. If both of you believe in the green lifestyle, it might actually be an option, what do you think?
No matter what you choose, I believe that contraception definitely is an impact and a responsability both sexes share. So far, the impact balance stays down on the feminine side; let us see what else comes up.
Photo courtesy by LIZ – populational, merci!