Sustainability Column: An Eco-Friendly Sexual Revolution

Ethan Reiser, Assistant Commentary Editor

It is no secret that there is no shortage of sex on the internet and in the real world, especially when it comes to sex toys and products. However, what many fail to realize is that not all sex products are created equal. Many contain harmful contaminants that can be detrimental to not only the environment, but also to your personal health. These contaminants include phthalates, which are plasticizers that are used to make plastics hard, yet pliable. They are found in a wide variety of plastic products, including, but not limited to, children’s toys. These phthalates cause problems because they break down over time, releasing harmful gases and causing health problems. Given the nature of sex products, it is clear why these plasticizers can be especially harmful if found in these products, as the products would then be introducing the harmful substances into vulnerable areas of the body. In 2006, an independent lab in California tested the top 10 selling sex products and found that some of those products contained not only phthalates, but also other harmful substances such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polystyrene.

However, not every product out there contains these harmful substances, and not everyone is a supporter of the use of potentially harmful sex products. In 2005, Jennifer Pritchett, owner of her own sex shop called the Smitten Kitten, founded the Coalition Against Toxic Toys, a non-profit whose mission is to educate consumers about the different kinds of materials that are used in different sex toys. Because there are no FDA regulations that surround sex toys and products, given that they are often marketed as gag gifts rather than real products, individual companies such as Smitten Kitten are the ones that are driving the conversation around safe sex toys, and the ones that are making a difference. Self Serve, a company in Albuquerque, has taken a similar path, choosing to sell only products that are free of harmful chemicals, instead are making the switch to silicone, glass, stainless steel, wood and other eco-friendly options that are safer for the body. The attitude of these individual companies, along with others, represents a change in attitude in the sex product community. Sexologist Carol Queen of Good Vibrations says, “people who think nothing of scrutinizing the health implications of what they put in their mouths often seem to forget about the other parts of their bodies associated with pleasure. But when we bring the question up, most people do care very much about how healthful materials are.” The conversation around eco-friendly sex products has also opened up a broader conversation about manufacturing sustainability. Some companies, such as Tantus, use better materials such as platinum grade silicon and FDA approved minerals in order to create better products, both for health and for the Earth.

It is clear that the difference between eco-friendly sex products and traditionally made products is a vast one. In light of Valentine’s Day, be conscious of the kinds of products that you or your partner are putting into your bodies. Try out more organically based companies such as Organic Loven. However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, always be conscious of how the products you choose will affect your health and the health of the planet. Have a safe and fun Valentine’s Day!

Contact Ethan Reiser at [email protected].