Can You Be an Ethical Consumer of Sex Toys?

Fun Factory Feature

There’s more to shopping than price and quality: You probably also want to support brands that have a similar code of ethics to yours. For example, if you’re an animal lover, you can find cage-free eggs and vegan supplements. If you’re an environmentalist, you can find clothing with all recycled fabrics. But if you’re looking for something to keep on your nightstand, the story behind your sex toy is hard to find. You might be left wondering: Who, exactly, is making these toys? And what exactly is in my dildo?

Well, there’s a reason those answers are hard to come by: The sex toy industry is unregulated. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission puts sex toys in the same category as massage devices, so the materials in them aren’t subject to any real standard for toxicity—even though they’re sitting against the most absorbent parts of your body. Some companies slap the “for novelty use” label on their toys to avoid lawsuits and call it a day, but lawsuits or no, people can still get hurt.

Sex toys designed without safety in mind can mean exposure to unsafe chemicals at best, and a trip to the hospital at worst.

Sex toys designed without safety in mind can mean exposure to unsafe chemicals at best, and a trip to the hospital at worst. Luckily, they’re easy enough to avoid if you know what to look for. Below, find our best tips on shopping for a safer, more thoughtfully made sex toy. We would know: At Fun Factory, we’re the biggest name in the world of ethically produced sex toys.

Where They’re Made

Most sex toy companies that sell in the U.S. design their products in one place, and manufacture them in another country where labor is significantly less expensive. In fact, many brands make their toys in the same exact factories, so their products are basically identical to one another—same look, same materials, same motors—with a few cosmetic differences.

Plus, many of the countries where toys are produced on the cheap don’t regulate their factories, so it’s up to each company to ensure they’re using safe materials, emitting minimal carbon, and paying and treating their workers fairly. In trying to boost their profit margins, these companies usually fall short on at least one of these practices.

Since day one, Fun Factory has made all our toys in Bremen, Germany, where we’re subject to stringent EU regulations for health and wellness. These regulations cover everything from materials, to factory safety, to generous worker wages and benefits, to our environmental impact, and so on! We design, produce, and package our products all under one roof, with low carbon emissions. That’s why we can say our toys are “made in Germany,” rather than labeling them with a weaker claim like “designed in Germany” or “assembled in Germany.” All these terms are regulated! In a free-for-all industry, you can trust German-made sex toys.

At Fun Factory, we’re partial to silicone for its durability and bendiness.

What’s in the Toys

As for which materials belong in a sex toy and in your bod, you have a ton of options. Spectrum Boutique sells a wide array of different toys in different materials—steel, glass, silicone, and more!—and always ensures they are 100% body-safe. At Fun Factory, we’re partial to silicone for its durability and bendiness. That said, not all silicone is created equal.

Super-soft silicone is often treated with chemicals to give it that silky finish, but that can be dangerous to factory workers and can cause the toy to break down faster, on the shelf or in your body. We make our toys with medical-grade silicone and buff them by hand, so they’re smooth but not degraded. Contrary to popular belief, silicone is actually somewhat porous, but not so much that it hangs onto bacteria. Its porousness can actually be a good thing—it holds onto lube better than super-slick plastic. Just be sure to clean it between each use!

Since sex toys aren’t regulated, pretty much anything can be found in a sex toy for sale, including endocrine-disrupting phthalates and PVC plastic.

Since sex toys aren’t regulated, pretty much anything can be found in a sex toy for sale, including endocrine-disrupting phthalates and PVC plastic. Since the toys are contacting your mucous membranes, it’s safest to avoid harsh chemicals. Some brands even use chrome paint to give their products a high-tech look. Unfortunately, that paint tends to chip over time, and some formulations are even carcinogenic!

Fun Factory does use chrome paint, but we cover it with a body-safe material to keep toxins from contacting anyone’s body directly. If you do go for a toy with a chrome coating, you should make sure it’s adequately sealed in.

How They’re Marketed

As anyone who’s shopped for ethical products knows, socially conscious brands often position themselves as high-end. But the bells and whistles needed to create high-end packaging, from the toxic glue to the plastic reinforcements, create massive waste. In contrast, our packaging is locally sourced, made of recyclable materials, and multi-purpose—there are games inside!

Another marketing trap is constant newness. Some brands need to flood the market with new toys so they always have growth numbers to show their investors. By making stuff nobody asked for, they also create a lot of waste. A better model is making small-batch toys and releasing new models only when there’s new tech or customer feedback. That’s the model Fun Factory follows, and it’s kept us in business for 25 years.

The most eco-friendly toys are the ones that hold up for years.

After You Buy

The sooner the toy falls apart, the sooner you have to run out and buy a new one. Some companies know this and design their toys to degrade quickly, which increases profits but also increases needless waste. The most eco-friendly toys are the ones that hold up for years. Fun Factory is proud to have the lowest return rate in the industry, thanks to our meticulous quality control.

Of course, there’s more to sex toy production ethics than we’ve listed above, but this should be a good start. It does require a bit more effort to shop thoughtfully, but your health—and pleasure—are worth it!

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