Friday, 10 September 2010

Carry On Ethical

picture: Mills&Boon
Incapable of restraining her burning desire any longer, Raquel lost herself into Captain Brannigan's brooding dark eyes, giving in to the delirious pleasure of his touch, and savagely ripping his uniform to reveal the tanned chest she had longed for since their first encounter that afternoon by the stables.
The captain's gentle yet masculine hands left her voluptuous curves for just a moment, to reach for the box next to his bed.
"ARE THOSE CONDOMS NOT VEGAN???!!!???", Raquel demanded to know, incredulous of Alexander Brannigan's lack of concern for farm animals.

This week we've been learning about the world of ethical birth control and safe sex.

So you've managed to go through romance, adventure and a little experimentation without nasty STD surprises or unplanned progeny. Before you feel all conscientious, answer this question: how does your chosen birth control method affect the environment and other people?

If you're on the pill, there's the risk of its impact on river population. Studies have suggested that residues of a synthetic form of the oestrogen hormone found in the pill have a feminisation effect on wild fish, with a detrimental impact on their reproduction.

But hold on to that packet of Mircette. I'll give you 3 reasons:
1. The problem is also linked to other chemicals found in rivers;
2. You could switch to progestin-only pills if you're concerned;
3. The whole problem would disappear with better sewage treatment.

I'm not convinced that the price to pay for a healthy population of wild fish is to open the gates for human population explosion too.

Condoms? The majority of them are made of latex, a natural, fully biodegradable rubber, but: if you're a strict vegan, you may have a problem with the use of milk protein casein in the manufacturing process.

As for frequent concerns raised over the deforestation caused by the latex extraction industry, projects like this one by the UN Development programme and Michelin has shown this can be a sustainable and prosperous activity.

If you're still uneasy about the provenance of your latex, but not a vegan and not at all squeamish, the lambskin condoms could be for you. Yes, in 2010.  Lambskin. Sheeps intestines, to be precise. They are reportedly more comfortable, but their only protection is against unwanted pregnancy. Because of its porous texture, you're still succetible to sexually transmitted diseases. I also hear they have a farm-like smell. If you're into that sort of ambiance.

Female condoms are only available in synthetic, non biodegradable polyurethane. However, they're many women's only opportunity to take control of their sexual health.*

condom wedding dress
To address the needs of frisky vegans, there are casein-free condoms.
Sir Richard's is one of those companies the Ethically Challenged is always delighted to find. Their vegan condoms are not yet made from certified fairtrade latex, but founder Mathew Gerson explains they're currently working with TransFair in the US in order to find an adequate certified fairtrade latex supplier.
But what makes Sir Richard's so special is their 1 for 1 policy: for every condom you buy, another one is donated to Haiti, Thailand and Uganda. These are countries falling very short of meeting the demand of condoms to prevent HIV and other sexually trasmitted diseases, as well as necessary if any national family planning programme has a chance of succeeding.

The role of caseine in the processing of latex is to improve its elasticity. I've asked Sir Richard's what is their solution to ensure their condoms are still comfortable and up for the job, but received no reply so far.

To find out how, I've ordered a packet of their classic ribbed and shall report on their comfort and efficacy after a night of passionate embraces and tempestous romance.


*To find out more about the United Nations Population Fund's campaign in improving reproductive health, visit their website.

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