The big issue with sex toys is what they're made of and the damage certain materials can do to the environment and your health. Pliable "jelly" toys are made from PVC plastics and contain phthalates, which are a family of chemicals used to soften plastics and have been potentially linked to hormonal disruption, damage to the reproductive system and even cancer.
So soft jelly rubber dildos might not be your safest choice. (Those of you who already own sex toys that have phthalates in them... if you still don't want to part with them, it's recommended that you use a condom with them at all times).
Here are a few options of sex toys made from phthalate-free materials you might want to choose instead:
It feels a lot like other less-safe rubbers, but with less of the icky side effects. Silicone toys are non-porous, hypoallergenic and don't off-gas, yet can still usually be safely disinfected by boiling or using the dishwasher. (Please check the labels on specific toys first!) Silicone also warms to the body and retains heat, but you cannot use silicone lubes with silicone toys, as it can melt the silicone toy.
One of the bad things about silicone is that it isn't biodegradable, but it is recyclable... Check out SexToyRecycling.com for more information. You can also trade in your old "rabbit" - and get a new one at half-price - through Love Honey's Rabbit Amnesty program.
- Other "Natural" Materials
Let's not forget what keeps those vibrators running! However normal batteries can come with potential hazards and problems. They contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of.
- Electric Vibrators
- Rechargeable Vibrators
- Solar-powered Vibrators
Lubricants and Lotions
Materials that you should avoid when shopping for lubes, massage oils and apparel are petroleum and petroleum-derivatives. Chemical preservatives, like parabens, have been linked to some cancers and other health issues.
Lubricants like Babelube Natural and Sliquid Organics are free from chemical preservatives and are less likely to irritate sensitive skin. There are also natural Lickable Body Oils and Massage Candles. Many of these products are also Vegan and/or Cruelty-Free.
Certain natural ingredients have been known to have positive benefits, such as green tea which can be an anti-inflammatory, aloe which is moisturizing and soothing, and carrageenan, which has been linked to preventing HPV transmission.
We bet you didn't realize that there was such a thing as vegan condoms (or maybe you thought all latex condoms were vegan?) Lambskin condoms obviously contain animal-derived ingredients, but did you know that even latex condoms sometimes use animal-derived ingredients in the manufacturing process (e.g., milk or milk derivatives)? Other condom companies test their products on animals. Some "vegan-friendly" and "cruelty-free" condoms include Glyde condoms and Europe's Condomi.
It's not completely clear yet whether latex condoms are fully biodegradable. Polyurethane condoms are not. Lambskin condoms are, but are only effective against pregnancy, not STDs (and obviously are not animal-free.)
Bedding and Apparel
Bamboo bed sheets are a great eco-friendly bedding option. They're super soft and silky and come from a rapidly renewable resource. (They're also great for people with allergies or other sensitivities.)
For more information on safe sex toy-shopping, check out the Coalition Against Toxic Toys' shopping guide at badvibes.org and Grist.org's "Breaking Up With My Blow-Up Doll". Also check out treehugger.com's green sex guide and The Green Girl's Guide To Sex from gogreenstreet.com for other ways you can help green your sex life.