Getting rid of your favorite sex toy can be a tough decision, understandably so. For certain people, “breaking-up” with their favorite sex toy might feel like parting from their longest and most trustworthy sexual relationship they have had. For some others, kicking their dildo into trash may come as easy as breaking up with an IRL partner. In both cases, what to do with your sex toy once it is no longer in use? Do you fling it in the rubbish heap? Donate it to somebody orgasmically less lucky? Try to resell it on eBay? How about you recycle it?
While the recycling of sex toys has yet to catch up for on a large-scale, some revolutionaries are taking baby-steps for both environmental issues and practical business reasons.
How Sex Toys Are Recycled Today
According to Jack Lamon of Come As You Are (one of the only few co-operative shops in Toronto to encourage a sex toy based recycling program), many people only wish to throw away sex toys after use. Ever since sex toys came into existence, their ultimate destination has always been the landfills. This is because several North American municipalities would not recycle them at all.
To oppose this norm, Come As You Are encourages its customers to either mail or drop off their unneeded silicone sex toys and vibrators (only after they have been thoroughly cleaned, of course) and the co-op shall manage its recycling from thereon. In return, customers get a 15% discount coupon on all future purchases, along with some peace of mind.
But Come As You Are‘s program is certainly not the norm, and since a regular sex toy is made up of complex parts and materials such as silicone, electronic parts, ABS plastics, as well as rechargeable batteries; they cannot be used for conventional recycling. Certain recycling facilities also forbid to take toys which they think might be biohazard; although they would take all your trash from you, they won’t include it in the junk. Furthermore, as toys get on to be even more complicated, so do their disposal methodologies.
Why Merely Dumping Sex Toys Into The Trash Can Be Dangerous
According to Coyote Days, purchasing and product manager of Good Vibrations, sex toys are included in ‘premium’ products, which utilize the same technology as some cell phones: including rechargeable batteries or lithium-ion batteries. If they are only being tossed into the trash, they would leach the same toxins and chemicals as cell phones. With high-tech toys operated via remote controls, or maybe even advanced motors, the potential for toxins leaching out is a little more. It was not a problem before people adopted this advanced technology, or people were not looking at it in the same manner. Everyone prefers their toys to be made of silicone since it is easy to clean, and relatively easy to mold into several possible shapes, but it never disintegrates.
How Other Sex Toy Stores Are Catching Up
Other sex toy stores are gradually following the trend. Apart from Come As You Are, there’s Portland-based Scarlet Girl and the UK based Love Honey, both of which share similar sex-positive and environmentally conscious sentimentalities. In all the examples mentioned above, these retailers do not undertake the entire recycling process upon themselves, but on the other hand, they expedite it a necessary in-between step making it possible for the end-consumers to recycle their sex toys.
Most of the recycling process involves breaking down the toys into their components, sorting them according to different parameters, and finally privately contract it out to other companies for further recycling. Some already get the battery recycling done at the storefront, before waiting to amass sufficient ABS plastic for shipping out with sufficient silicone repurposed for different uses.
Another obstacle develops at the stage of return. Although a huge boom in sales across all boards—an average of $15 billion at this point—has resulted in sex toys finding their space on the shelves of CVS and Walmart, while a huge deal of sex toy shopping happens online. While sex-positive toy outlets are available for toy returns, it is only when the product turns out to be defective.
Lamon says that they do not allow returns for sex toys that seem to be perfectly functional since the industry has had a bad reputation with reselling used toys. This can be explained by stories of customers mentioning used toys they had purchased from other store owners having been found covered in pubic hair.
Good Vibrations is another sex toy store retailer, and it does not maintain its indie recycling incentive feature. However, according to Coyote Days, the retail label is conscientious enough about seeing that all their defective merchandise returns are thoroughly processed before disposal.
The Final Verdict
In a scenario like this, you are compelled to wonder: is throwing vibrators with the remainder of the recycling such a bad idea after all?
According to Days, there is simply a stigma attached to items meant for personal use. Therefore when you attempt to call an e-waste facility or manage to figure out how to effectively dispose of your sex toy, there’s a problem. You are faced with similar types of pervasive mentalities and attitudes that we often witness in conventional American culture: shame, humiliation, or getting freaked out about using the product somebody already used.