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September 13, 2016

Q Toys Saves the Planet One Vibrator at a Time

This article originally ran in the Fall 2016 issue of Intimate magazine. Click here to see the digital edition. Stephanie Boggs, founder and owner of Q Toys in Austin, Texas, began her sex toy recycling program shortly after opening Q Toys in December 2012. She wanted to create a sex-positive, education-based store that she herself would be comfortable shopping in. “I didn’t want to see the ‘novelties,’ lingerie and junky toys that clutter most adult stores,” Stephanie stated. “I wanted to create a more straightforward and less ‘wink wink’ kind of experience. I wanted to create an environment so that each and every person who walked in the door would feel safe and appreciated, regardless of their orientation, identity, or sexual and erotic appetites.”ecycling and sex toys: these two things don’t always find themselves side by side. But as world moves in greener directions these days, one enterprising sex toy store owner has embraced the philosophy of saving the planet one vibrator at a time. But creating a pleasant shopping experience wasn’t the only goal for Q Toys. Stephanie also was passionate about helping the environment. “Thinking green and being environmentally friendly, including active recycling, have always been important practices for me so it was natural to pursue recycling our main product at Q Toys—sex toys—and it was pretty easy to figure out to do it,” Boggs shared. Recycling sex toys is not usually on the manufacturing radar when creating toys, especially in this day and age when different materials, battery requirements and motors make pleasure products much more technologically sophisticated than, say, twenty years ago. The enterprising Boggs decided to research the topic of sex toy recycling on her own. She went to the web and within a few short clicks found an appropriate recycler without having to explain exactly what she was recycling. And how did she do that? “Honestly, I just emailed and called around until I found a facility that was willing to work with us. When I approached them with ‘This may be a strange request, but would you consider taking our used sex toys?’ they didn’t even react. They immediately said, ‘No problem.’” When asked what kinds of toys the customers are turning in, Boggs chuckled. “We get a lot of everything, really,” she said. “Broken, old vibrators, silicone dildos that someone associates with an old lover, things that were ordered online that turn out not to be what the customer wanted, cheap crap that people want out of their life, etc.” When customers want to return a sex toy to Q Toys for recycling, all they need to do is bag it up and deposit it themselves into a bin in the back of the store. Store employees do not handle the used toys. As an incentive, Q Toys offers a $5 credit toward any new toy for each one that’s recycled and accepts up to four $5 credits for any one purchase. Boggs explained, “The recycling bin fills up pretty quickly, and we don our gloves to pack up and send a big box of toys off to the facility about once a month.” And despite what people think, she added, “The toys we recycle are NOT being turned into new sex toys. They are being turned into any number of products that use post-consumer rubbers and plastics.” One would think a facility that recycles sex toys would be so highly specialized that it would be hard to categorize, but when you break down the components of sex toys, it’s basically electronics surrounded by various materials: rubber (TPE, TPR, PVC), silicone, vinyl, hard plastic (ABS), metal or glass. The recycling facility that Boggs located, which is in Long Beach, California, specializes not only in dismantling and recycling electronics but also happens to recycle children’s toys. Ultimately, the similarities are striking between adult toys and children’s toys—both are generally small, made with rubber or plastic, and often have an electronic motor of some kind in them. The company is experienced with disassembling electronics and motors from plastics and rubbers and has procedures in place to protect the people who come in contact with bodily fluids on adult toys for recycling. But actively promoting the recycling of sex toys doesn’t end with sending off the bin to the recycler: it can actually create a dedicated customer for the store. When Boggs and the staff at Q Toys mention the program, she explained, “Everyone has received it positively. Some people are skeptical at first, or they question what we do with the toys. Once we explain the whole program, however, they get pretty excited.” When asked if there are any financial gains for Q Toys for recycling toys or is if it is done strictly for environmental reasons, Boggs mentioned, “We bring in a handful of new customers a month who want to take advantage of the program. However, I’d say with the small discount we give as an incentive for each toy that is recycled, and the shipping costs each month, we really just break even. It’s so important to us that we’d do it even if it lost us a little bit of money. I have heard some skeptical rumblings from other shops across the country who, I think, may have tried recycling in the past and haven’t had good results.” She continued, “Some of our smaller vendors are pretty excited about our recycling program, especially the ones that have strong environmental policies of their own. As for retailers who would like to start a recycling program, I’d be happy to pass along the name of the recycling facility to interested parties or I’m quite certain there are other places out there willing to do it. I would love for our program to be copied and even improved upon in many, many more shops across the country. My goal is for sex toy recycling to become a standard and not anything that warrants any extra attention.” So start going green not only for the environment but also to build a customer relationship from the first purchase of a toy to the end of its lifespan. For more information, visit QToysAustin.com or get in touch with Stephanie Boggs via email at stephanie@qtoysaustin.com.

 
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