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How to Recycle a Vibrator

How to Recycle a Vibrator

How to Recycle a Vibrator

You've had your vibrator for a few years, it's served you (very) well, but sadly, the battery has let out its last buzz, indicating that it's time to send your special friend into permanent retirement. 

Now what? 

Aside from getting your hands on a new vibrator (the fun part), you'll need to do something with the old one. Since you've ended up on this article, you're probably interested in finding the most environmentally responsible approach to discarding it. 

As you may have already realized through a mostly fruitless Google search, it's not an easy process, but it's well worth your time and efforts. The sex toy recycling business can only grow with an impossible-to-ignore increase in consumer demand, which starts with every one of us.

What you can do: 

Mail your vibrator to a collection program. 

The unfortunate truth is that running a sex toy recycling program is not a lucrative business. Broadly speaking, there's more working against this type of operation than for it, so it's hard to track down programs that aren't currently inactive or shuttered completely. As Come As Your Are's founder, Jack Lamon puts it: "The whole endeavor is inconvenient and expensive and no company with capitalist intentions would engage in sex toy recycling". Okay, well. 

Still, there is some hope. If you're based in the United Kingdom (or don't mind paying international shipping fees), you have access to Love Honey's Rabbit Amnesty Program. You can send them anything that's classified as WEEE (Waste Electrical or Electronic Equipment) - meaning your vibrator PLUS any other old electronics you have laying around. Better yet, they make a donation to the wildlife preservation organization World Land Trust with each delivery they receive!

It's a pretty unbeatable win-win. 

Contact the local e-waste disposal center.

Computers, TVs, iPods, copiers, printers, and basically any other electronic you've crossed paths with can (and should) reach their end of life at an e-waste center, which is specifically equipped to handle the potentially toxic and unwieldy materials they contain. 

When it comes to vibrators and other electronic sex toys, the rules aren't quite so clear. Because they can be used internally, sex toys are considered biohazards, which means most standard e-recycling programs aren't set up to handle them. There's also difficulty in disassembling and sorting since many devices have both electric and plastic components, meaning the toy could get tossed into a landfill out of lack of clarity from the recycling center's end. 

Most of these centers' websites don't include sex toys on the lists of things they accept, but you can't assume that means they won't accept it. At the same time, it's easy to assume that the worst will happen if you show up on-site, vibrator in hand, only to get laughed at and turned away. 

To avoid any awkward in-person interactions with an e-waste worker, you can usually track down an email address for your local center. Otherwise, they should all list a phone number on their website. If you're nervous about making the call, focus on objective problem-solving. Instead of asking, "what do I do with my dead vibrator?" you could say, "I'd like advice on what to do with silicone adult toy with a dead battery - is it recyclable?" 

Not unlike TSA at the airport, the people who work at these centers have probably seen everything come through, so chances are they'll take your question seriously and in stride. If anything, they'll be glad you asked and didn't assume! 

Consult with your local sex-positive retailer. 

The people working at sex toy brick-and-mortar shops are there to help with more than just selling you vibrators. They likely have valuable insider knowledge on the best way to face your vibrator's end-of-life too. 

Especially since laws around e-waste fluctuate on a city and state level, you're more likely to learn about lesser known recycling programs or get better first-hand advice from someone who operates in the same area as you. 

Most major cities will have an array of sex toy shops, from the bigger names like Babeland to smaller boutique shops, but you also don't have to go in person. You won't get judgement for any of your questions, regardless, but if you're especially nervous about asking, calling them (or sending them a DM on social media) takes away a lot of that pressure. You can even preface with, "this is maybe a weird question but..." to really ease into it. 

Focus on vibrator quality and care.

By far, the most environmentally impacting change in the sex toy industry has been a massive improvement in quality. 10 to 20 years ago, a vibrator might've lasted three to six months. These days, you can usually expect a rechargeable vibrator to last anywhere from two to five years. 

Responsible vibrator ownership doesn't start when it comes time to dispose of it - it starts, well...at the start. Investing in a vibrator from a reputable brand, that has a long lasting battery life and quality, body-safe materials is one of the easiest ways to lower your overall environmental impact when it comes to sex toys. To prolong the life span of your vibrator even further, you should also be cleaning it regularly, storing it properly (nearly in it's own pouch or stand), and unplugging it when its fully charged.