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Which Baby Barrier Is Best For The Planet?

Over at Slate this morning, Nina Shen Rastogi takes a stab at a new definition of "safe sex," asking the not-unreasonable question: Which form of birth control is the most eco-friendly? Condoms, for all the waste they create--about 2.75 million pounds per year--are a safer bet than the pill (mainly because we still aren't quite sure how pharmaceuticals affect the water supply). But Rastogi deems the copper intrauterine device (IUD) the clear winner, because it generates little waste and is 99 percent effective. She also concludes, however, with "a single piece of advice when it comes to contraception: Use it. No matter what type you choose, it's guaranteed to have less of an impact on the environment than the unwitting creation of a fossil-fuel burning, diaper-wearing copy of yourself."

Fair enough. Still, there might be another green case for always using condoms (unless you've been tested for everything out there), since I can't imagine that unfinished courses of antibiotics used to treat chlamydia or gonorrhea, or the health effects and energy costs related to the treatment of any STD, are good for our fair planet, either. Condom use might add some extra tissues to our landfills, but oh well. As Rastogi notes, proper disposal (trash it, don't flush it) actually boosts condoms' eco-friendliness. 

Meanwhile, cue conservatives arguing that the only truly green form of birth control is, of course, abstinence...

--Seyward Darby