Keep it natural with “green” sex products
Put some environmentally virtuous lovin’ into your healthy livingPublished in the February 2006 issue of Shared Vision Magazine.
Designer Christi York was thinking about her organic lifestyle one day, when she had a naughty thought. “I’m really into organic foods and the learning process of what we put into our bodies,” says the founder of Vancouver-based Buenostyle, “so the idea for this graphic just popped into my head.”
That idea was a bright, stylish response to the “granola-coloured boring styles” and “depressing environmental messages” she saw on store shelves: a line of sassy, organic cotton panties emblazoned with a just-try-me challenge to Eat Organic.
Organic lingerie it’s not, but cheeky entrepreneurs like York are starting to put the “wheeee” into green: her natural panties join the products of a swelling rank of daring marketers who bring you a more environmentally virtuous way to get some healthy lovin’ into your healthy living.
Shared Vision went in search of off-the-grid toys, trends, and tidbits and selected a few that seemed particularly playful, guilt-free, and non-intimidating. These mostly local treats are chock full of healthy goodness in one way or another, so go ahead and try a sample.
This folksy Commercial Drive boutique is arguably Canada’s mothership of quality sex products and novice-friendly information. The store prides itself on its high standards of design, safety, quality, origin, and customer satisfaction. Everything in the women-run (but male-friendly) shop is either locally made or Fair Trade. Says corporate manager Sue Hayashi on the store’s dildos, vibrators, lubricants, harnesses, and more: “We believe the end user’s enjoyment is greater if the path to your door was an ethical one.”
If you like the idea of browsing at Womyns’ Ware but feel shy about doing so in person, visit their informative and hilarious website. Their entire stock is on-line, along with product tutorials, updates, “BuyerbeWomynsWare,” and—in a moment of understatement—their “strong opinions and beliefs” on the business of buying and selling sex toys.
THE ART OF LOVING
Over in the Kits part of town, The Art of Loving’s approach is more kid-glove but just as passionate about the importance of sexual wellness. Co-owner, lawyer, and writer John Ince has spoken out in his book, The Politics of Lust, for more than 20 years, and his partner Vera Zyla, a registered acupuncturist and traditional-Chinese-medicine practitioner, co-ordinates frequent in-store workshops. A sofa and bookcase give the front of the store a lounge-like ambience, and airy jazz follows you up the wheelchair-accessible ramp to the sex toys and accessories.
Speaking of wheels, if you show The Art of Loving staff your bicycle helmet at the counter, they’ll give you a 10 per cent Kyoto discount.
With macho names like Probe, Maximus, and Trojan, traditional lubricants don’t do much for feminist sensibilities and their petroleum- and silicone-based formulas seem a sour cocktail for private parts. Thankfully, a few local independent manufacturers have created water-based, chemical-free alternatives. Vancouver’s O’My Natural Lubricants are free of sugars and are loaded with damiana, Siberian ginseng, guarana, yohimbe, and even hemp-seed extract. Also from Vancouver, Hathor Professional Skin Products’ Aphrodesia herbal formula includes horny goat weed, Jujube Zizyphus, and Siberian ginseng for extra “aphrodisiac properties.”
Consider Womyns’ Ware’s new Clit Capsule an ethical toy. Like many of its silicone buddies, the house-brand vibrator/dildo combo was actually designed in-house and is made in Canada under fair worker practices. In case you were wondering, the silicone they use is hypoallergenic, dishwasher-safe (for disinfection, silly), and manufactured locally in small batches. Other new additions include the sweetly named Sugar, Lily, Ida, and Munchkins line.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
If you’d rather grow your own dildo, you can holler down to Good Vibrations in San Francisco for a “Your Cast Member” kit. The do-it-yourself package not only lets you cultivate your favourite member in silicone but also allows you to tint it pink, purple, peach, chocolate, or black. When it’s firm, it’s ready.
LOW ON TOOTHPASTE?
Pssst. Did you know that a certain local retail chain has recently joined the ranks of, ahem, sexual wellness providers? Past the sports insoles and above the condoms, London Drugs has quietly stashed a few elegant packages of Durex’s new Play line of vibrators. The Luna, Ellipse, and Little Gem may not represent the cutting edge of environmentalism, but for some of us, low-stress access and discreet packaging is a good place to start. As a London Drugs staff member joked, “You can pretty well carry it up to the counter with your toothpaste and no one will notice.”
REDUCE, REUSE, RENT
Sometimes, just hearing the word porn can make you go yecch, instead of wanting to rent it. Fortunately, The Art of Loving makes it easy to reduce your nausea and the city’s landfill by offering more than 50 “tasteful, sex-positive, and women-friendly” reusable titles. Rent an educational or erotic DVD for a mere $6 for two nights and sate your curiosity.
LEARN WITH A FRIEND
A Small Engine Repairs course might make you handy in the shed, but an Erotic Massage workshop will rev things up in bed. If you’d rather invest in knowledge than material goods, take a course. The Art of Loving’s adult-only seminars run all year long and useful topics include How to Have a Great Orgasm, The Art of Flirting, and Hurts So Good: Intro to Kink.
Conserve, recycle, and transform. It’s good for the environment, and according to Tao yoga instructor Minke de Vos, it’s great for your sexual energy. “If one is mindful of subtle, sensitive, balanced, playful, and blissful states of mind and body,” says de Vos, “this will come out in how one makes love.” The director of Silent Ground Retreats leads regular sessions of Tao Yoga for Sexual Energy here in town and invites men and women of all levels to come “smile with your whole body.”
VEGGIE LOVE, PART 1
We mentioned Vancouver’s Buenostyle organic knickers earlier on, and a quick Internet search brought up another cheeky Canadian clothier. Toted as “Good on your skin, good for your spirit” clothing, Vegan Porn’s sweat-shop-free T-shirts suavely proclaim “Tofu makes me horny” and “Vegans get plenty.” If the T-shirts make you feel frisky, you can step up to the Vegan Booze Directory and sign up for their Go Vegan, Get Laid campaign.
VEGGIE LOVE, PART 2
Sure it’s American, but this Seattle-based Veg Sex Shop’s site features animal-free sex products and meat-free porn models! Highlights? 100 per cent vegan lip balms (“for the tastiest lips south of the hips”) in Clitoris Citrus, Shaved Peach, Strawberry Snatch, and other flaves; a solar-chargeable vibrator (“for the eco-conscious, anywhere ”); and links to Erotic Sites Run By Herbivores.
VEGGIE LOVE, PART 3
Not surprisingly, Utah’s Vegan Erotica website takes itself just a little more seriously. Dedicated to “veganism, animal and personal rights, and the environment,” the bondage-wear–oriented site speaks to those of you who want the look of leather but “don’t want the animals to suffer for [your] fashion or fetish.” Like the other sexy green sites, Vegan Erotica preserves your privacy and the environment by shipping in—yes—plain, brown wrapping.
Buenostyle “Eat Organic” panties are available at various locations including Hemptown Clothing Inc., 1307 Venables St., Vancouver. 604-255-5005, hemptown.com
Womyns’ Ware, 896 Commercial Dr., Vancouver. 604-254-2543, womynsware.com
The Art of Loving, 1819 West 5th Ave., Vancouver. 604-742-9988, theartofloving.ca
O’My Natural Lubricant, from O’My Products Inc., widely available, omyonline.com
Hathor Aphrodesia Lubricant Pure, from Hathor Professional Skin Care Ltd., available in sexual-health retail locations, hathorbody.com
Good Vibrations (San Francisco) 1-800-289-8423, goodvibes.com
London Drugs, various locations, 1-888-991-2299, londondrugs.com
Durex Play (Thornhill, Ont.) http://www.durex.com/ca
The Art of Loving Seminars, 604-742-9988, theartofloving.ca/seminars
Tao Yoga for Sexual Energy workshops and retreats, 604-669-2505, silentground.com
Vegan Porn (Toronto), veganporn.com/store
Veg Sex Shop (Seattle), vegsexshop.com
Vegan Erotica (Utah), veganerotica.comNeed a story? Contact Ulrike Rodrigues with your alt-health writing needs.