At one level, this notion of “green sex” is an indicator that any movement, even the green movement, can quickly become a fad. This is especially true when marketers find that combining such popular terms as “green” and “sex” helps them draw attention from Internet search engines and exploit a niche in consumer culture.
The more positive spin might be that the very appearance of such memes as green sex (or, perhaps, green travel, green style, etc.), however silly they may seem at first, indicate that some sort of new green consciousness is actually becoming a part of our culture.
But what is green sex? One working definition might be sexual activity in which an individual, couple or group gets busy, if you will, in a way that promotes, or at least does no harm to, the health of their bodies or the health of the planet.
You’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about if you read some of the many green sex tips available on the Web, often packaged in “Top 10” lists.
Nicole Hughes of huffingtonpost.com offers the “Top 10 ways to green up your sex life.” Making the list are solar vibrators, vegan condoms (with the Vegan Society stamp of approval) and the Twisted Monk Bondage Starter kit (made from 100 percent organic hemp rope). Hughes also suggests ways for couples to have fun in the tub with vegan and cruelty-free organic bath products. “Even do-gooders are allowed to be bad in the bedroom without damaging their health or the environment,” Hughes writes.
Writing for cosmopolitan.com, Jessica Knoll recommends several “Sexy ways to go green.” She suggests, for example, that lovers “slip between eco-sheets.” “Bamboo is one of the earth's most renewable resources,” Knoll writes, “and despite its rough texture in the wild, when it's used in bed linens, it has a silky, slinky feel that's really sexy.”
Planetgreen.discovery.com features a 10-part green sex primer, including the obligatory list of tips. “Give (and receive) sexy gifts,” the site suggests. “Organic massage oils, fair trade chocolate or a bottle of biodynamic red wine are hot options.”
Even Greenpeace got into the act in 2002 with “Getting it on for the good of the planet: the Greenpeace guide to environmentally-friendly sex,” available at greenpeace.org. Greenpeace knew what they were doing. After all, sex sells, even if you’re selling ideas rather than products. Last September, EcoWorldly.com reported that Greenpeace Mexico, after posting the same sex guide to their site, saw a big rise in visitor traffic.
The rationale behind many of these sex tips — in addition to helping sell green sex products — seems to be to protect the participants in sex play from health damage caused by the allegedly toxic chemicals used in many toys and lubricants.
Virtually all of the list-makers recommend the use of organic lubricants, rather than lubricants made with parabens, glycerin, hormones, silicon or petroleum products. “Back away from the K-Y jelly,” warns Hughes. “Forget the fossil fuel-based lubricants,” urges Greenpeace.
You should even be careful which dildos and vibrators you use, if the tipsters are correct. Greenpeace recommends that you avoid sex toys made with polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which they say releases the toxic chemical dioxin. “You don’t want to be sucking on that stuff,” the site says.
Another danger in some sex toys made with PVC, according to several sources I consulted, is the use of chemical softeners called phthalates to make the toys more flexible. Phthalates supposedly been linked to kidney and liver damage, among other ailments. “In response, the sex toy industry has started to make vibrators out of elastomer, a latex-free material that doesn’t contain phthalate,” according to the blog broccolicity.wordpress.com. “When it comes to sex toys in general, look for those made of hard plastic, lucite, acrylic, glass, metal or elastomer,” the site recommends.
“Skip the vinyl and venture into the green world of PVC-free rechargeable, glass or solar vibrators,” urges Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, writing for Best Health magazine. “Or, if you want to get even more risqué, explore fair trade, sustainable wood spanking paddles”
Advocates of green sex also have a lot to say about condoms. Latex condoms are not biodegradable, and you obviously can’t reuse or recycle them. Sheepskin condoms are biodegradable and are effective in preventing pregnancy, but, according to Broccolicity, do not protect against STDs, including HIV. As mentioned above, Hughes suggests the use of vegan condoms by a company called Condomi. These condoms, she says, contain no animal derivatives and are made with natural, biodegradable latex and non-spermicidal lubricant.
Some of the green sex tips just seem silly. “Invite a shower buddy,” says Cosmopolitan’s Knoll. “Bathing with your guy is a lot more fun than doing it alone, and it's also a steamy way to save water and money.” Shawn Alff of Tampa Creative Loafing called bullshit on that in a recent post. “Alone my showers take two minutes max, unless the conditioner bottle gives me a seductive look, in which case they take two and a half minutes,” Alff says. “When I shower with a friend, the water turns cold before we’re finished.”
Green sex toys were named the “Hot Bedroom Trend” by Rolling Stone magazine in its 2008 “Hot” issue. There are many vendors out there, not only for sex toys, but for such items as eco-friendly lingerie (made from bamboo hemp silk, organic cotton and other renewable fibers).
These vendors include jimmyjane.com, goodvibrations.com, erosandisis.com, eartherotics.com and babeland.com. For vegan bondage gear and other leather goods, go to www.veganerotica.com. Personal natural lubricants can be had at collectivewellbeing.com or sensuaorganics.com. Vegan condoms and other goodies are sold at thesensualvegan.com.
When I did a Google search for the term “green porno” (purely for research purposes, I was surprised to find 240,000 hits. The very first link took led me to model and actress Isabella Rossellini, who in 2008 produced a series of eight short films about the sex lives of insects (including flies, snails and earthworms), available at sundancechannel.com/greenporno. Season 2 is now available and features, among other animals, whales, starfish and barnacles.
There are at least two other “green” porn sites. There’s vegporn.com, which claims to offer “alternative erotica and sex-positive culture for herbivores and those who love them.” Fuckforforest.com describes itself as “a non-profit eco-porn organization” and declares that “saving the planet IS sexy!” Those making a donation to the site get access to photos and videos uploaded by “erotic activists,” with the proceeds supposedly going to help save old-growth forests.
Unfortunately, one of the great chapters in the history of green sex will never be written. Heidi Fleiss, the “Hollywood Madam,” recently dropped plans to build an elegant, wind-powered “stud farm” for female patrons in Nye County, Nevada. Fleiss is focusing instead on other alternative energy projects, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “That's where the money is,” she told the paper. “That's the wave of the future.”
Jesse Chambers is the Weekly’s special projects editor and a frequent contributor to BhamWeekly.com. Write to email@example.com