Any chance I can recycle my sex toys?

Q: Any chance I can recycle my sex toys? [rssbreak] A: A week after Valentine's, a lot of things might be losing.


Q: Any chance I can recycle my sex toys?

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A: A week after Valentine’s, a lot of things might be losing their lustre – from your new romance to your old vibrator. And ousting either of the above can prove tricky.

Sex toys are made of a melange of different plastics and electronic components, from hormone-disruptor-leaching vinyls to heavy metals (think lead, chromium, cadmium, even mercury).

Once again, the EU is ahead of the green love curve, mostly because it’s mandatory there for all electronics to be recycled, and every manufacturer has to cover the cost of dismantling and recycling.

Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find curbside recyclers in North America that accept sex toys, even those that take e-waste. Most e-waste recycling programs here cover basics like computers and TVs, and that’s pretty much it. Even if you’re parting ways with a sex object made of perfectly recyclable materials like glass or stainless steel, that doesn’t mean you can toss it in your blue bin.

Toronto’s program doesn’t take any glass other than containers, and doesn’t even recycle stainless steel cookware, so I wasn’t too surprised when the city’s solid waste manager, Geoff Rathbone, said no means no, at this point, on the sex toy recycling front.

According to Rathbone, it seems “all glass other than containers is of different composition and would either melt at a different temperature, or be of a different glass ‘recipe’. The same would hold true for the stainless steel and aluminum.”

Eventually, the city does plan on recycling durable household goods like sinks and pans, but the future is dim for your glow-in-the-dark dildo.

Unless, of course, you ship it to Florida. Yes, my friends, a sex toy recycler has popped up in the land of Mickey and snowbirds. It’s the only sex toy recycler I know of on the continent (other than the occasional oddballs on Craigslist who buy and sell used sex toys – no joke).

This not-for-profit Sex Toy Recycling Program invites you all to send your washed, pre-loved toys by mail to their warehouse, where they’ll be cleaned again and disassembled.

The silicone, rubber, metal, electric motor, even batteries are all sent to various U.S. recycling facilities (no offshore e-waste shipping, the company promises). All money raised from recycling is said to go to enviro charities.

Beyond that, my advice to you is simply to invest in durability. Quality silicone toys aren’t only healthier since they’re inert, but they also last longer than cheap ‘n’ crappy PVC, so they’ll take a lot longer to end up landfill.

A solid stainless steel or aluminum dildo will last till you’re old and grey, and the cool thing is that pretty much all stainless steel and aluminum have some recycled content (60 per cent on average for stainless steel objects, says the industry.)

If you need an electric boost, either get yourself a good rechargeable vibrator (Lelo makes some sleek ones, some of which can be charged at a USB port) or, at the very least, shell out $20 for rechargeable batteries. For lasting power, skip the alkaline rechargeables, since they don’t hold a charge as well or as long as nickel-metal hydride. (At the end of their happy life, just be sure to recycle those at one of dozens of drop boxes near you call2recycle.org).

Green girls and boys can cleverly avoid the whole battery scene altogether and fuel their fire with a hand-cranked vibrator (you heard me). Earth Angel makes the world’s first and only human-powered vibe, and just four minutes of winding gives you 30 minutes of, well, unwinding. The company even takes ’em back for recycling. (You can buy or recycle one through comeasyouare.com.)

And if that’s not sustainable enough for you, you can always try the guaranteed compostable option: produce. A firm, unripe zucchini, cucumber or Asian eggplant can do the trick (with lots of organic lube and a condom in case of breakage). Doesn’t get more natural than that.

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Send your green queries to ecoholic@nowtoronto.com

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