Opinion

Be responsible: Throw away condoms | Amy Johnson

It’s not easy bein’ green, even if you’re not Kermit the Frog.

Reducing carbon footprints requires conscious care and planning, which is why it’s so important to use a condom. Read on for the ultimate guide in responsible condom use.

According to a special insert in the Seattle Times on June 29th this year, one of the seven everyday devices which is both powerful and simple to use to save the planet, is the condom. Who knew?

Eric Sorensen, apparently. He is the author of a book called Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet, and in the article excerpted in the Times, gives us some interesting and thought-provoking facts:

Human beings will have sexual intercourse over 100 million times today, and in so doing, about one million women will become pregnant. Unfortunately, about half of those pregnancies will be unintentional.

Condoms can help. They are small, thin, and weigh very little. A bonus is that they also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases. (Just remember not to keep them in your wallet and to be sure to check the expiration date.)

Many people promote condom use by advocating that an increase in their use will translate into fewer births. This article suggests a 14 percent increase in the use of contraceptives in general “could translate into 1 billion fewer births by the middle of this century.” (June 29, 2008 Footprint: Pacific Northwest Extra, p. 12.)

To further the green, carbon reduced footprint theory, then, 1 billion fewer births also means many less carbon-dioxide emissions—possibly as much as 4 billion tons.

Some people might rationalize that this is not their problem — that it is a third world issue. Actually, almost half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended, according to the Association of Reproductive Professionals.

Even though every unintentional pregnancy in the United States does not end in a birth, every baby born in our country will use a disproportionate amount of resources in their lifespan compared to those born in developing countries. Therefore, using condoms, especially in the U.S., can in fact have a potentially positive impact on our climate.

One further note on the green front. Though many condoms are made of latex, which is biodegradable, they do not biodegrade quickly enough to be left to the elements. Lambskin condoms, though also biodegradable, do not protect against sexually transmitted infections and HIV: they are too porous.

The most environmentally friendly way to dispose of condoms, according to Columbia University’s “Go Ask Alice” site, is to wrap them in tissue or paper and dispose of them in the garbage, where they will hopefully eventually breakdown.

Be responsible, use a condom, dispose of it properly and help save the planet.

Amy Johnson, MSW, is a Personal Life and Parent Coach in Federal Way. She facilitates faith and sexuality classes for youth, and parenting classes in the Puget Sound area. Amy can be reached at comments@diligentjoy.com.

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