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Recycle your rabbit!

August 15th, 2007

Dr Petra

No I don’t mean exchange your pets. I’m talking about getting green with your sex toys.

A while back I blogged about issues around ethical sex stores. In focused in particular on the way products are made and sold, and the way sex stores treat their customers and staff. All this was prompted by Greenpeace and other sex stores acknowledging how some sex toys may contain components that certainly aren’t green and may in fact be harmful (although the debate still rages on about the latter issue).

Today there’s some interesting news about how one adult retailer Love Honey is launching what they’re calling the first sex toy recycling scheme.

They’re inviting customers to take the Rabbit Amnesty Pledge and to send their outdated or overused vibrators to the store where they will recieve a greener sex toy at half price.

According to information from the retailer “The second-hand toys will then be delivered to a Designated Collection Facility (DCF) where they will be recycled and treated in an ecologically sound manner”.

I asked them what this meant and they’ve explained “We will collect the vibrators and pay for them to be recycled. This is in addition to LoveHoney meeting its responsibilities as a member of an approved Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS). Exactly what happens at the DCF is set out in the WEEE regulations – the DCFs are run by licensed companies who have to treat and recycle to the necessary environmental standards. We hope to be able to follow our first batch of vibrators through the process to find out exactly what happens. The vibrators will be stripped of components that can be reused – these would most likely be resold. Printed circuit boards, which many vibrators feature, contain hazardous metals such as lead, chromium, cadmium and mercury. It is the DCF’s responsibility to ensure that these are disposed of to the legal environmental standards. Specialist recyclers will normally recover these materials. If any vibrators are returned in boxes, the cardboard will be sent to a specialist cardboard recycler for processing”.

As well as recycling the toys, the company are also going to donate £1 per sex toy to the The World Land Trust.

Obviously this can be seen as a clever marketing move – a novel idea that taps into our increasing awareness of green issues. However it will be interesting to see whether the scheme does work and whether it is worthwhile for the retailer in both their time and money. Whether one has to buy a new toy as part of the recycling scheme is not clear. Critics have called for clear proof that the toys that will be offered half price are a. greener than other products and b. of a higher quality than those being returned. I’ll keep you posted on all these questions.

While this blog is not an endorsement of the retailer, I think this is a novel idea that does throw up some challenges to other sex toy stores. But if you want to recycle your sex toys you can still do so yourself. You can recycle cardboard and plastic packaging, and also remove the batteries from your toy and recycle those. Both of these tasks can be easily achieved at your local recycling centre. However, the rest of the vibrator may be something you’re unsure where or how to recycle (or you may feel embarrassed doing so). Using something like the rabbit amnesty scheme could allow you to get around this.

Of course we should be thinking greener about sex toys to try and reduce the amount of batteries used (or encourage the use of recycled batteries), as well as questioning the components and manufacturing conditions of said toys.

I’ll keep you posted on how this scheme works, whether other toy manufacturers and distributors opt for similar programmes, or whether it just leads to backbiting amongst those competing to get an edge within the adult sales industry.

In the meantime while you’re deciding what you think about the proposed scheme and whether you want to recycle here’s a talking rabbit who can tell you a bit more

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