Condoms protect against pregnancy and many STIs, are relatively inexpensive, easily accessible, and are one of the only forms of birth control that people with penises have direct control over. As a certified sex educator, I seriously can’t sing the praises of condoms enough! But there’s one area that condoms fall short, and that’s when it comes to being conscientious about the environment. By their nature, condoms are a one-and-done deal — you really shouldn’t reuse them, for the most part. And, despite a very common rumor, most condoms aren’t biodegradable.
But that doesn’t mean using condoms is hands-down bad for the environment. One eco-friendly condom company, Sustain, started by father-daughter team Meika and Jeffrey Hollender, argues that using condoms is actually net good for the environment, despite the fact that it’s a disposal product, because condoms contribute to population control. As humans are the number one threat to environment, preventing unplanned pregnancies is definitely environmentally friendly.
So there’s that. And if you’re using condoms, you do have options that are more or less environmentally friendly. Here’s a breakdown of the five most common types of condoms and whether or not they’re biodegradable. And if you’re not satisfied with those options, I’ll have a couple of other, more environmentally-friendly options for birth control (but, unfortunately, not STI protection) at the end.