Thursday marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 250,000 latex condoms to counter what it says is the harsh environmental impact of an expanding global population.
Ah, but there was a hitch to their pitch. Leslie Kaufman, writing in the Green blog on the website of the New York Times, points out that critics note the condoms given away by the organization are made of latex, which doesn’t break down easily when discarded (think landfills) and might be considered a somewhat odd choice for a group promoting environmental responsibility.
Responding to the conundrum put forth by the Green blogger, a spokesperson for the Center acknowledges that latex isn’t the most environmentally friendly material, but says it’s a small price to pay if the result is fewer resource-consuming folks trodding upon terra firma.
They have a point and – for reasons having nothing to do with the environmental consequences of more and more rug rats crawling around – I feel compelled to defend the condom. Latex is a marvelous barrier to all sorts of things that can be swapped by partners during sex, including the fluids that can either get us pregnant or transmit infections. No, they don’t work 100% of the time but used consistently and correctly – as the public health disclaimer goes- can sharply reduce the risks of unwanted pregnancy and many STIs, including HIV. In utterly ignoring the sexual health aspects, the Earth Day focus touting condom use misses an excellent chance to bolster its argument.
As for condoms as landfill-cluttering waste….please. The infinitesimally small contribution to our waste chain made by this inexpensive, widely available, easy to use, and effective method of contraception pales hugely given the health benefits it bestows.
You want to save the environment? Recycle your cans and bottles, and then take your own bags to the store when buying more. Want to make a smart choice for your (and your partner’s) health? Pick up a pack of condoms while you’re there…the rainbow colored variety pack is always a good choice!