With Valentine’s Day around the corner, now is the time to educate yourself about what makes a pleasure aid green before you surprise your beloved with that extra-special something. From the ins and outs of vaginal lubrication to designing a vibrator of Amazonian proportions, many manufacturers are now offering uncompromising pleasure with the wellbeing of your health and the planet in mind. When it comes to sex toys specifically, things get a bit trickier. In part that’s because social morays in the Middle East are more conservative and what is Halal for some isn’t the same for others.
What pickles things up is that sometimes what’s good for the planet may not be best for your sex life or vica versa. Take heart: If you are part of that growing community who wants to make sure your pink parts are green, we’ve done the research for you to recommend specific toys (individual readers must decide on the halachic merits) that have been vetted by advocates in the industry.
These include Shelly Lyon, former owner of an adult shop in the states and a 15-year veteran for revolutionizing the toy industry, Tanja Diamond, an intimacy and business coach trained in the ancient, classical art of Tantra, and Deborah Anapol, PhD, an internationally recognized educator on topics related to human sexuality.
What to consider when shopping
Our experts pointed out that there are several essential factors to note when shopping for a safe, eco-sexy intimacy aid.
Let’s start from what your toy does to the planet and what it does to your body. Is it solar-powered, rechargeable or not? Made from natural, recycled or recyclable or medical grade materials? What’s its expected lifetime? Are any of the compounds potentially toxic or not?
That’s the bad news. The good news is that at least one of the companies we recommend is local to the Middle East, and several others do deliver overseas for those who prefer to shop more discreetly.
Your Nose Can Help
Lyon suggests a quick ‘sniff test’ to find out if the toy – dildo, vibrator, anal insert, etc. – is toxic or not. If it has a strong ‘plastic’ smell, this indicates the likelihood of these not-good-for-you compounds and should be avoided, she insists.
Be aware of tricky labeling too. One way companies get around their responsibility is to label the product for recreational use outside of the body only; of course, many times consumers disregard these instructions, which puts them at risk.
For those thinking that they only safe toy is a firm bit of produce, please not that not all ‘man-made’ products are ‘bad’ for you when it comes to adult play. Some materials that aren’t degradable (e.g., silicon doesn’t degrade) do make for a greener option because they are chemically inert, and can be used intra-vaginally. “Medical-grade silicon, if cared for properly, can last 15 years or more,” says Lyon.
The Israeli firm, TOY-thinkingofyou.com designs and manufactures elegant and avant-guard vibrators that in addition to being made entirely of medical-grade materials are rechargeable (saving thousands of batteries over the lifetime of the product), and the silicon overlay is recyclable.
Created by award-winning industrial designer, Ofer Zick, T.O.Y.’s Calla Lilly line of vibrators are sold online and in stores in Israel, and were featured in the Milan Design Show in 2011, a first for any vibrator in the world.
Not all plastic is a total no-no according to Lyon. Those made without phthalates are non-toxic for the body, though there are environmental concerns with plastic. According to her, the Hitachi magic wand is the King of Vibrators in this category, having been on the market for over 30 years. Silicon attachments give this product a lot of play versatility and make it a popular choice.
What if you don’t want a buzz? Tanja Diamond recommends Pyrex dildos, “because of the ability to have a difference in temperatures,” she says. “I can have it cold by putting it in the fridge or warm it up in warm water. Temperature play is a great way to bring your focus and awareness to your body parts very quickly.” This material is hygienic, easy to clean, and eco-friendly for your body too.
Pyrex has other benefits too. “I love the smoothness and the super sexy soft glide of a very well lubricated toy, as well as the difference of texture when I want something a little grittier,” says Diamond. This makes glass great for use as a massage too, solo or with a partner, and for inside or outside play. She recommends people get two, one smooth and one with texture.
Lyon, points out that consumers must be careful and buy pyrex, not glass because the latter can shatter if exposed to extreme temperatures, which is why many dildos labeled as ‘glass’ are actually made from Pyrex, a material that responds better to heat and cold.
One concern oft mentioned is that vibrators can be associated with a temporary loss of sensitivity in some users. For this reason, Dr. Anapol recommends the Lucite crystal wand massage tool by Nectar Products.
“It uses no batteries, doesn’t wear out ever, is easily sterilized, and best of all, increases sensitivity instead of decreasing sensitivity as most vibrators do,” she says. What’s more, the ‘S’ shape makes it easy to reach the G-spot or prostate, and helps “prevent fatigue or repetitive motion injury when used with a partner.”
Dr. Anapol also recommends the Taoist jade egg, which she calls very ecosexual because, “It exercises the vaginal muscles, and increases awareness of subtle internal sensations, leading to greater health as well as stronger orgasms for the woman and more pleasure for the man.”
This long-lasting toy is also made from organic materials – jade and a string – which means it’s the ultimate in environmentally friendly.
Our story wouldn’t be complete without pointing out that the industry is rising to the occasion to produce safer, sexier intimacy aids. All our experts were keen to recommend manufacturers, if not specific toys, to lovers in the market for something special this Valentine’s Day.
Those that made our panel’s grade include Tantus, Lelo, Fun Factory, Emotional Bliss and Aneros (which specializes in toys for men). For an enjoyable shopping experience, we suggest you visit “Good Clean Love” (they will deliver to addresses in the Middle East for additional shipping charges – please inquire). Another highly recommended site is, “As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop.”
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