Stick with us as a retailer (our buying practices filter out the least benign products) and focus on toys with these attributes:
- recyclable or no packaging,
- sustainable production,
- long shelf life, and
- replaceable component parts.
Those qualities produce sustainability, even when the product material itself is difficult to recycle.
At our buying stage, questions about sustainability focus on production consumption, waste, and shelf life. The plastics and other composite materials used in our products are recyclable. But there is more to sustainability than recycling. Recycling consumes energy, and in the case of some materials (such as plastic) it can be prohibitively expensive to restore the material to something with more value than the energy expended to recycle it.
We aren’t aware of any life cycle analysis or sustainability measure for sex toys, BUT even if funding were available for a sex-toy specific study, we’re not sure it’s necessary! If we focus on component parts, composite materials, and power sources, we can draw some conclusions, without consideration of how these home appliances are to be used! Any sustainability measures that apply to kitchen utensils and small home appliances are probably analogous to sex toys. A silicone spatula will not need to be replaced. A rubber one on the other hand, will! A plug-in hand vacuum is more sustainable than a rechargeable NiCad-powered hand vacuum. Now apply the same standards to sex toys!
When narrowing down your selection, if you remain primarily interested in products that stay operational for a long time and you’ll have little need for a toy-recycling center. When it comes to composites, silicone has a lifetime shelf life. Our leather products come with long-term repair warranties. The new Swedish and German models of rechargeable vibes are using the same rechargeable battery technology as cell phones, so they have long (but not infinite) lifecycles. We only carry the high-end plug-in vibes that come with extended warranties and are supported by repair centers.
When selecting a vibrator, the least-recyclable materials we carry are ABS plastic, silicone, and elastomer. The latex and elastomer dual vibes with built in motors and some of the entry-level vibes with plastic cases have a working life of about one to three years. They are the closest product we carry to “toy quality” and must inevitably end up in the trash.
The best choice you can make for sustainability is a silicone sleeve (lifespan: lifetime), and a removable vibrator that can be easily replaced when it burns out. Get in touch if you’d like some recommendations!
Pictured: The Pleasure Collection by We Vibe