Sure, you care about the environment: You recycle, replace your traditional lightbulbs with CFLs, you even offset your last vacation. But there’s one area you may be overlooking—the bedroom. From plastic sex toys to the carbon footprint generated by online porn, erotic pastimes have a significant environmental impact. We know, we know: Hemp lingerie just isn’t sexy. But here are five easy steps to help you make the magic happen in a more earth-conscious fashion.
Use your senses
The great lovers of history didn’t rely on porno for arousal. Unplug the computer and TV for the night and plug-in to your sense of smell. “Scent generates arousal,” says Wendy Strgar, founder of the company Good Clean Love. “Your nose and olfactory system is the most primary sensory system that inspires and awakens sexuality.” Look around your house to find smells that bring back sexual memories, whether it’s a scent from food, perfume, or something in nature. “You can make your own scent porn,” says Cory Silverberg, a sex educator and author of About.com’s sexuality guide. “Get a partner, blindfold them, have five or six things and let them smell them. Playing with different senses is sexually powerful, and something we don’t do very often.”
If having lube on hand is an integral part of your sex life, make sure you know what you’re using. Many commercial lubes have ingredients like chemical preservatives, which may not be the best for your, ahem, sensitive parts. Instead, use an all-natural lube such as Good Clean Love’s Cinnamon Vanilla or Firefly Organics’ Intimate Botanical Moisturizing Crème. If you’re feeling especially daring, look in your kitchen. Silverberg says egg whites are an all-natural lube that many swear by. Just make sure that the eggs are free-range. If eggs aren’t your thing, Silverberg suggests trying yogurt—but stick to the plain kind without added sugars or ingredients.
Many people prefer a softer sex toy to a harder one. Before running out and making a blind purchase that will use energy, resources, and packaging (not to mention money), get a little crafty at home. Silverberg suggests looking around the house to find natural items to use instead of a dildo. “The oldest and certainly the easiest sex toys are the fruits and vegetables in your home,” he says. “Whatever you use, boil it for a little bit to soften it up.” Almost anything is game, including bananas, as long as they’re tied in a condom.
Ditch the plastic
Sure, you love that hot-pink plastic dildo, but have you ever thought about what is in it? That item you’re hiding in the nightstand might contain phthalates, a chemical used to soften rigid plastics. Though nobody knows for certain if phthalates are harmful to human health, studies have linked the chemical to DNA damage in human sperm , and some infants whose mothers had high exposures to phthalates have been born with genital irregularities . Given the potential risks, many prefer to play it safe, says Charlie Glickman, an education program manager for Good Vibrations, a sex product retailer based in San Francisco. If you’re worried about what’s lurking in your bedroom bobbles, play it safe and purchase a phthalate-free glass, silicone or metal sex toy instead.
Many environmentalists suggest turning the thermostat down in the winter and layering clothes to cut back on energy use. Try getting under the covers as a carbon-neutral way to heat things up. It might be a little cold, but the tingles can work to your advantage. Spice things up with hot sensations, such as a warming lotion or candle wax. In the summer, try using aloe vera or ice to cool things down.
Story by Rachel Mosteller. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2007.