The brilliant and wise team behind Smitten Kitten, an awesomely progressive sex store in Minneapolis, has initiated a campaign to enlighten the public about the dangers of sex toys and healthier alternatives. Below is their “Smart Shoppers Tool Kit” (courtesy of CATT). Use the following tools and tips to make smart, informed decisions despite ill-informed store clerks, unreliable product packaging, and overwhelming options.
1. Implement the smell test. Your sense of smell is your most reliable tool for identifying a potentially dangerous sex toy. If you smell any chemical odors or perfumes, you can assume they are a direct result of a process known as off-gassing, in which myriad, unknown chemical compounds are migrating out of the material (usually PVC or polystyrene) and contaminating the air you breathe. There is concern that these “mystery” chemicals will also migrate onto your skin and into your body during use. Safe, 100% medical-grade silicone toys do not smell because there are no chemicals present to off-gas.
2. Be wary of claims that condoms will protect you from toxic toys. If your salesperson or product literature suggests that you always use a condom over your sex toy, beware that this toy is potentially toxic. Safe sex toys made from 100% medical-grade silicone, high-quality glass, surgical steel, polished stone, or hard plastics (including acrylic) do not require the use of a condom because they can be thoroughly sanitized to prevent the exchange of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses that might cause infection. Remember, to prevent the transmission of infection, you must sanitize your toy before sharing it.
3. Never take claims made on sex toy packaging at face value. There is absolutely no requirement that the product packaging for sex toys or the literature contained therein be truthful in any way. Just because packaging might say a toy is made of silicone does not mean it actually is! Sex toy manufacturers have gotten savvy (you might say tricky). They try to lure consumers to purchase products by falsely labeling them as safe. These toys are clearly labeled as silicone but contain only trace amounts of silicone and are instead riddled with much less savory ingredients!
Also, consider claims like “hygienically superior” to be baseless until convinced otherwise by your own good research or common sense. Be on the lookout for confusingly similar spellings of materials that you know are safe. For instance, never confuse silicon with silicone. The long and short story is, don’t trust the packaging without supporting evidence.
4. Be suspicious of space-age, overtly sexual or technical-sounding terms for sex toy materials. One way to spot these faux “materials” is to look for the registered trademark symbol (®) following the “material” in question. If the term in question is trademarked, this means that it is a trade name and has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you see the (™) symbol, this may mean that the user claims some exclusive rights to use the mark or word. Remember, no actual names of materials will ever be properly trademarked.
Know that these trademarked terms do not necessarily connote any specific chemical composition. They are instead marketing terms used by companies to differentiate and sell a particular product without making any specific claims or mention of the actual materials used in the production of the item in question.
This means that all of those directions about caring for “cyber” or “real” are suspect at best because these words are nothing more than a product marketing executive’s smooth attempt to seduce you into buying the product because it sounds sexier or more technical than the competitor’s.
For example, there is no reliable way to know what a toy labeled “cyber” is actually made of without full disclosure from the manufacturer or an independent chemical analysis by a qualified laboratory. Always wonder why a toy is labeled with a fancy name without also disclosing the ingredients!
To determine if a toy is safe, you must first determine the actual composition of the toy. Toys made from nontoxic and nonporous materials such as 100% medical-grade silicone, polished stone, surgical steel, high-quality solid glass, and hard plastics (including acrylic) are safe. You will notice that ® or ™ symbols are not present following actual ingredients (as opposed to those made-up marketing terms) because you cannot claim intellectual property rights on such words.
If you’ve been reluctant to green your lifestyle because it seems too complicated or even cliché, now you see why eco-sexuality is a seductive bridge to all things green. You don’t have to do it for some far-off, amorphous reason that you can’t wrap your brain around. You can simply do it because you want your sex life to maintain its sizzle while keeping the planet cool. And with all the fringe benefits of eco-sex (health, stamina, increased sensuality, consciousness expansion), how could you possibly pass it up?
Want more? Get your own copy of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable.
Stefanie Iris Weiss, MA, is the author of nine books, including her latest title–Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Crown Publishing/Ten Speed Press, April 2010). She’s written about the quarter-life crisis, women’s issues, sex, the environment, dating and relationships, health and wellness, the divinatory arts, and more. Stefanie is a regular contributor to British Elle, and has written for Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, Ellegirl.com, Elle Japan, Elle Netherlands, and Zink Magazine, to name a few.
Find even more Eco-Sex tips at http://www.ecosex.net
Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com
It’s really progressing, isn’t it? You’re ready to really impress your new “friend” without harming the environment in the process.
Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means “loom,” “weaving,” or “the carrying out of a ceremony,” depending on one’s interpretation. Tantra is all about intentionality, directing energy, breath work, and eye gazing. But don’t think only New Age types practice tantra. It’s quite eco-sexual. Tantra doesn’t use a single bit of the earth’s resources, it provides hours and hours of fun, and it raises consciousness to a whole new level.
Every Breath You Take
You don’t have to read the entire Kama Sutra or spend hours holding off on orgasm in order to experiment with tantra. Start with remembering how to breathe. Even as you sit and read these words, bring your attention to your breath and think about whether it’s flowing deeply, fast, slow, or barely at all.
A quick tantra trick is to try to synchronize your breathing to your partner’s or, in some cases, the one you’d like to be your partner. Say you’re on a date and you’re not connecting because the person sitting across from you is nervous and fidgeting. Sometimes all it takes to calm a person down is to tune in to his or her breath and match it.
Even if you can’t hear the person breathing over the clanking of dishes in a restaurant, try to get a sense of it by watching his or her chest move up and down. This can also work when you’re in bed with someone and things aren’t going well, by the way.
More than Meets the Nondominant Eye
“In tantra, sex is not an action. It is not one more thing that humans do. Sex is an energy that exists on its own,” explains Barbara Carrellas, author of Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-first Century. Practitioners of tantra believe that gazing into the nondominant eye (the left if the person is right-handed, and vice versa) is a means of gazing into the soul. This can invite a somewhat frightening level of intimacy with a partner, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Carrellas suggests that you practice it by yourself, with a mirror, in order to grow brave enough to do it with a partner. She believes that you can achieve the “great cosmic orgasm” with enough practice.
Here is a basic tantra exercise, one that even those who have practiced for years continue to go back to: Sit face-to-face with your partner. Maintain a gentle gaze with your left eye into your partner’s nondominant eye for several minutes.
Next, bring your awareness to the rise and fall of his or her belly and chest as your partner breathes in and out. Place your hand on his or her stomach and feel the expansion and contraction there. Notice whether you’ve synchronized your breathing. Listen to the breaths and add a sound with your exhale. Continue for at least 10 minutes. This is some serious stuff, and it can feel more intimate than sex.
Next week: More on eco-sex. Stay tuned.
Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com
Second Date: Into Your Lair (or His or Hers)
Once you’ve snagged yourself a like-minded potential soul mate, it’s time to show off what you know. What do eco-sexuals do on subsequent dates? Mostly the same stuff that regular people do, like having dinner. Nothing shows off your eco-knowledge like cooking an organic meal for your soon-to-be lover. Try these 2 recipes from super sexy chef Sarma Melngailis of Pure Food and Wine in New York City.
Vanilla Salad Starter
Makes 2 servings
- 1/2 cup Banyuls vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Seeds scraped from 3/4 vanilla bean
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup almond oil or other high-quality nut oil
- 4 ripe black mission figs
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
- 1 teaspoon nut oil
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 cups mâche
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1 very small handful fresh parsley leaves
1. Put the vinegar, agave nectar, salt, and vanilla seeds in a blender and process until completely smooth. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and almond oil. With the blender running, slowly pour the oils into the dressing and continue to blend until emulsified.
2. Next, cut the figs into quarters and place in a small bowl. Add the agave nectar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, and toss very gently.
3. Toss the pistachios in another small bowl with the nut oil and a pinch of salt.
4. Place the greens, mint, parsley, and pistachios with their oil into a mixing bowl and add enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Toss very gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. To serve, divide the greens and pistachios between two plates and top with the figs.
Yellow Squash “Fettuccine” with Creamy Pine Nut Alfredo
Makes 2 cups
- 1-1/2 cups raw pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 or 3 medium goldbar or yellow summer squash
- Sea salt
- 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon nut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 small handful of lemon basil leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make Alfredo sauce:
1. Place the pine nuts in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Let sit for 1 hour or more to plump the nuts.
2. Drain the pine nuts and put them in a blender with the olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a drizzle of water to thin it.
To make “fettuccine”:
1. Cut the ends off the squash. Julienne the squash on a mandoline and place it in a colander or strainer. Toss with about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes to soften and allow a bit of the liquid to drain out.
2. Chop the pine nuts and put them in a small bowl with the oil and a pinch of salt.
3. Place enough squash for two servings in a medium bowl. Add enough of the sauce to generously coat the “fettuccine.” Add the green olives, half of the lemon basil, and a pinch of black pepper and gently toss.
4. Divide the “fettuccine” between two shallow bowls, making tall piles. Drizzle more of the sauce around the squash. Sprinkle with the chopped pine nuts, and garnish with remaining basil leaves.
Next week: The third date. Stay tuned.
Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com
Looking to go green in more areas than just recycling? Don’t neglect your love life! In her forthcoming book, ECO-SEX: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Crown Publishing/Ten Speed Press), Stefanie Iris Weiss (one of the Saturn Sisters) shares earth-friendly tips on how to date and mate. Here’s your sneak peek…
*These excerpts have been reprinted from the forthcoming book, ECO-SEX: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable from Crown/Ten Speed Press with permission from Stefanie Iris Weiss.
You drive a hybrid. Your home recycling system is state of the art. You’re oh-so-good at being green—but is your sex life? Sex can be one of the lowest carbon impact forms of entertainment (and exercise) on the planet, but only if you do it right. It’s time to make your love life truly sustainable…
Sure, eco-friendly sex is good for the environment. But that doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not good for you.
Here’s a crash course in how you can be green even while getting dirty. Eco-Sex is divided into three sections. We start with courtship in part 1, move on to seduction and finally explore eco-sexual adventure in part 3.
First Date: Getting Adventurous with Seduction, the Eco-Sexual Way
You’re not a freaky nudist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You’re just a free-stylin’ single on the make for a fellow greenie, or you’re an environmentalist in the throes of a new relationship, or perhaps you’re dating three people at once. Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum, you want to spice things up before the two of you fall into bed.
The most obvious, natural choice for an eco-friendly first (or second or third) date is anything in the great outdoors. Go hiking, biking, to the beach (even in winter), a local park, or just for a nice long walk.
Don’t get caught up in the idea that you must spend money on a date; you’re not that old-fashioned, are you? Besides, you’ll get to know your soon-to-be lover a lot better strolling through a beautiful, natural scene than you would in a loud bar or at an intimate dinner when you’re nervous as hell and on your best behavior.
A simple walk gets your blood moving, takes the pressure off, and creates instant subject matter about which you can chat. If you really want to impress another eco-sexual, set up a volunteering date. Pitch in to clean up a blighted community, help paint a school with low-VOC paints, or plant a community garden.
Next week: The second date. Stay tuned.
Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com