Hello! It is now the weekend, which means that if you are a socially inclined person with active loins, you may be trying to get laid tonight. And godspeed in those efforts — I mean it! I truly wish you the best.

But — I’m sorry — we need to talk about something.

We’ve been over why using protection shouldn’t even be a question, but to sum up very quickly: unplanned babies and STDs. Maybe you’ve joined the long-acting reversible contraceptive army, but if you’re sleeping with someone new (good for you! I’m serious!) you should still probably be using condoms until you’ve both been tested — which brings me to that thing we need to talk about.


Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Are we really still flushing condoms down the toilet?

People — COME ON.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It’s not like throwing condoms in the regular garbage is such a perfect practice. Landfill trash is landfill trash! And while latex, which most condoms are made of, is naturally biodegradable, many brands add artificial agents to ensure that the condom doesn’t break — which, you know, is the whole idea.

But here is the thing: Condoms flushed down the toilet just end up in the landfill anyway, but through a much more complicated and labor-intensive mechanism. Nothing that’s flushed down the toilet disappears — a fact made abundantly clear in a recent New York Times piece describing in detail the accumulation of “flushable” baby wipes in the sewer system. Here’s a quote to haunt your nightmares:

Often, the wipes combine with other materials, like congealed grease, to create a sort of superknot. “They’re really indestructible,” said Vincent Sapienza, a deputy commissioner for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “I guess that’s the purpose.”

Allow flushed condoms to add to said nightmares. From The Guardian:

“I’ve been down the sewers in central London and seen what appear to be fish on the surface. They’re actually condoms filled with air, bobbing around. It is pretty grim.”

Essentially, when you put a used condom in the sewer system, someone has to remove it.

Of all the things that our overtaxed and underfunded water treatment systems have to deal with already, your sticky, soiled prophylactics should not take priority. They shouldn’t even be there at all! There is no reason! The only way to properly dispose of a condom is to wrap it in a reasonable amount of tissue — no baseball-sized wads, please — and put it in the trash. Just do that. Simple and discrete!

Have a delightful, sexy weekend, and after romping around with your partner of choice, kindly deposit your condom in the goddamn garbage can.

Thank you.