Sure, you recycle your Snapple bottles and turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth, but when you have a hot one-night stand are you leaving a big carbon footprint behind, along with your favorite padded bra? Wow -- cancer? Talk about an unwanted consequence of sex. Are lubes the worst offender in the bedroom, or something else?
In her new book Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make your Love Life Sustainable, Stefanie Iris Weiss says the things we do in the bedroom could be affecting the entire planet, which really gives new meaning to the phrase "he rocked my world."
We caught up with Weiss to find out exactly how our bedroom behavior is impacting the earth -- and, more importantly what we can do about it.
Let's start with the most obvious question: Sex is a very natural act, no? How exactly does it affect the environment?
Yes, people often think "It doesn't get more natural than sex." But it's the things we use to enhance our sex lives that are problematic. For instance, take lubrication. A lot of the conventional lubes are made from petroleum products, which are made from oil. We have a huge dependency on oil in this country (see the BP oil spill) and we need to get away from that or there will be even more devastating and tragic environmental consequences. But petroleum products are also they're bad for our bodies. They are known carcinogens and contain preservatives like parabens that are also endocrine disruptors. You should make sure any lube that you're using does not have any petroleum products in it.
I'd say birth control is the biggest issue. I want to preface this by saying that the number one take-away lesson of this book is that everyone should use birth control because having an unwanted child and increasing the world's population is definitely not good the environment. But sadly, although the pill has been such a liberating force in so many women's lives since the '60s, it's also been found to have some very bad consequences for the body, like causing different cancers. It's also bad for the environment because we excrete the hormones back into the eco-system when we go to the bathroom, which is wreaking havoc on sealife.
So what should we be using instead?
There's no easy answer, but for people who are in a long-term, monogamous relationships, the IUD is great. It's not something that gets disposed of-- you insert it once and it stays in you for a long period of time and it's small and it works really well. But for someone who's dating and having a casual sex life, the IUD isn't a good option as it doesn't protect from STDs. So condoms are your best bet, but make sure they're latex condoms, not polyurethane. And if you want to be really eco-friendly use a brand like French Letter
condoms or Sir Richard's
. Sir Richards are vegan, and for every condom bought, they donate one to a developing country desperately in need of condoms. Finally, when you are done with a condom, wrap it in tissue paper and throw them in the garbage. They should never be flushed, because then they enter our water system, clog it, strangle fish and never biodegrade. They should be in our landfills.
You're definitely talking about stuff that most people have probably never even thought about. Is that why you wanted to write this book?
Sex toys? Uh-oh, what's the problem with them?
Yeah, I'm a long-time environmentalist, and after talking with friends, I realized that people were green in every part of their lives except for their sex lives. They were still using these bad products, mostly because there weren't really alternatives available even just a couple years ago. But recently there's been a revolution in the industry and I wanted to let people know about it -- and the different choices they have, especially in areas they never even think about -- like sex toys.
A lot of them are actually full of dangerous plasticizers (like phthalates), which make the sex toys malleable and are really dangerous for the body. But companies like Jimmy Jane
have really taken the problem head on and created sex toys out of alternative materials, like silicone. It's soft, malleable, safe for the body, it cleans well, and doesn't hold on to bacteria.
So how can someone know if the vibrator they've been using for the past year is safe?
This is a little bit gross, but I recommend the sniff test. If your vibrator or dildo has that "new car smell," put it down. Or recycle it at recycleyoursextoy.com
Looks like I've got some work to do. Any final words?
Being eco-sexy starts with your relationship to yourself. Be conscious of all the products you're using -- what you're putting onto your body and into it. The deeper connection you have with your body, the more in touch you'll be with your sexuality, which will in turn make you a better lover. It's the great circle of eco-sex.
Colleen Oakley is a brand-new mother who conceived her son Henry eco-sexily.