Is Conscious Contraception Site Selling a Bag of Toxic Tricks?

birth control pillsLike Tom’s Shoes, Conscious Contraception says it will give birth control to the poor with every purchase. Our eco-sex expert doesn’t like certain aspects of the idea at all.

The idea is commendable – get contraception into the hands of those who want to prevent unwanted pregnancy but cannot afford or don’t have access to it. With all things environmental, however, the devil is in the details, and in the case of a newly launched website that intends to be conscious about contraception, a sweeping case of greenwashing may be putting chemicals into chemistry, instead of the other way around. Fortunately, as front runners for ecosex, we recommend better contraception options.

The company, Conscious Contraception calls itself a, “globally conscious organization delivering contraceptives directly to the consumer through the convenient and discreet online store.” They partner with US and international companies to promote sex education, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, and decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies.

They state that a portion of every purchase will be donated to purchase contraception for under-served communities in the United States and abroad. You can read their full mission statement here.

No specific mention is made of the Middle East region, though Greenprophet.com reported recently on a condom company that is focused on Africa, including MENA nations.

Whether or not they are able to “transform customers into benefactors” by setting up their site, some very real problems persist, less with the model, and more with the products sold.

For example, many makers of personal lubrication massage oils and body creams that are sold use ingredients in their products that can irritate the skin, particularly the delicate genital area.  In addition to irritation, petrobased chemicals in personal use products are associated with rash, fatigue, cutaneous skin lesions, internal lesions, nerve degeneration, thrush and candida infections, inflammation, and myalgia.  Some forms of glycerin can lead to yeast infections in women: vegetable-based glycerin is thought by some to be a better option.

Case in point: both Astroglide and KY Jelly brands manufacture and sell lubricants that contain petrochemicals including, but not exclusively or limited to Polyquaternium 15, methylparaben, and propylparaben, propylene glycol.

The Organic Consumers Organization lists ten synthetic chemicals to avoid in personal use, with explanations for why these are potentially harmful, noxious or toxic. Greenprophet.com has also reported on toxic products to avoid in The Ins and Outs of Eco-Friendly Vaginal Lubrication.

In that article, we wrote:

Compounds to avoid include, but are not limited to the following: Any benzene derivatives such as sodium benzoate, methyl, ethyl and propylparaben, and benzoate of soda. Boric acid, salicylates and cinnamic aldehyde (an ingredient used in ‘hot’ lubricants) are also problematic. For a more complete list, click here and here. These are often used as solvents or preservatives.

Other concerns include the types of condoms sold. While condoms are known to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (a good thing), it’s important to view their use through environmental lenses if we want to fully evaluate their ecosexual impact. What are they made of? Natural rubber latex that is naturally and sustainably harvested is a better choice than those made of artificial materials known to irritate vaginal tissue (unless someone has an allergy to latex).  Companies such as LoveBeginsWithL.com are working to provide better condoms, prophylactics that are manufactured to higher standards that do less to compromise the health of the planet and lovers alike.

Our bottom line ecosexual green assessment: No matter how many free products or educational resources they may provide, any website that calls itself conscious but sells products containing potentially harmful ingredients is potentially misleading consumers and the disadvantaged to think that the options are environmentally optimal.

In my opinion, there is nothing ecosexually more discouraging than companies who use environmental slogans to sell us products that do not help us make love more organically. A green collar economy requires businesses to consider all facets of the products and services sold. In the case of contraception, better options would be to at a minimum include products that are environmentally safe, sustainably harvested and prevent pregnancy without compromising health or sexual pleasure. Educational programs that provide information regarding the ecological impact of the products offered would be an additional value-added service.

For those who are interested in learning more about contraception from an eco-conscious point of view, we recommend reading How do Treehumpers Prevent Pregnancy? and Ecosex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (2010), by Stefanie Iris Weiss.

Read More Ecosexual Health News:
The Ins and Outs of Eco-Friendly Vaginal Lubrication
GM Foods Shrinking Reproductive Health in Womb Near You
Ecosexual Condom ‘Company Love Begins with L’ Empowering Third World Sexual Health

Tinamarie is a regular contributor to Greenprophet.com. Follow her @ModernLoveMuse. She blogs at www.tinamariebernard.com. Photo via: dno1967b

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5 thoughts on “Is Conscious Contraception Site Selling a Bag of Toxic Tricks?”

  1. Thank you to all the comments on this post. As the founder of Conscious Contraceptives, I reached out to Ms. Bernard to correct several inaccurate statements in this article. Both Ms. Bernard and her editor suggested that I leave my feedback in the comments section of this post.

    First, we appreciate GreenProphet.com for taking the time to visit our website and follow up by writing an article about Conscious Contraceptives. After reading the article, however, we believe that GreenProphet.com may have significantly misinterpreted the foundation of our cause and our usage of the language “globally conscious” in our mission statement.

    While we do look to expand our product line in the future to include more ecofriendly options for our customers, our intention has never been to restrict the products we carry. Rather, we seek to provide our customers with a wide variety of options spanning different brands and categories, empowering our customers to choose the products which align with their ecosexual preferences.

    More specifically, the “globally conscious” statement in our mission is intended to focus on the global social challenges we are faced with every day—people around the world battling against the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and winning control over our exponentially growing population that is well on its way toward the 8 billion mark next.

    What is very unsettling to us is the inaccurate statement, “Conscious contraception is misleading consumers to purchase products that ultimately do not encourage sustainable, healthy, ecosexually aware love.” This is simply not accurate whatsoever. At no point in time has Conscious Contraceptives ever intentionally or unintentionally mislead consumers. Our entire focus is clearly and consistently messaged around the reduction of the spread of STIs and unplanned pregnancies through donations and ongoing education.

    With that being said, we respect and appreciate all perspectives. We welcome any additional suggestions which GreenProphet.com or their fans may offer for new ecosexual product lines for ConCon.org to review and potentially add to our inventory.

    Please feel free to reach out to ConCon.org directly, by emailing [email protected]

  2. Amy Redman says:

    I hear what you are saying about the product lines eco lineage and their id’ing themselves as “green”…but it also seems to me, very forward thinking to be trying to educate the African population and many other cultures about contraception. Condoms of any sort and the willingness to use them is so important. If the condoms are not eco friendly this week so be it. Capitolism is about making money and marketing…one of its blessings is the potential service this can provide…educating cultures that do not embrace or understand contraception (when disease and population are all world wide problems) seems to have a golden lining as it were…or maybe I have misunderstood. When capitolists sold “bad” formula to third world countries they killed children and led them away from breast feeding…now that is a “no win” move…contaception..petro based or not…seems valuable on certain eco levels depending on education element.

  3. Jeni says:

    Thanks for writing this article. I couldn’t agree more. I just visited their website and you are correct, they are marketing a lot of products that are not eco-friendly. If this company wants to honor its name, it will be more careful about monitoring the sorts of products it sells.

  4. That is true. Thanks for pointing it out. Every form of contraception has pros and cons to the health and the environment.

  5. commenter says:

    Just one small thing I’d like to point out: many people are allergic to latex, and for these people, having sex with a latex condom is not a pleasant experience in the least. For this group, condoms made of “artificial materials” are the only option, and they need to exist. They will always be in a small minority but I’d just like to make people aware of this.

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