By Georgi Lindsey
We all want to be greener, healthier and adopt a more eco-warrior stance in life. Now we have the ability to do this in another area of our lives and not necessarily one you would have thought of.
Carbon Footprint, greenhouse effect, recycling and organic. These are all words we see daily to encourage us to do more to protect our planet. In turn we can provide a better and healthier life for future generations and ourselves. We have options to buy organic food, body care, skin care, hair treatments and now, we can turn our attention to the things we buy for the bedroom. Once you slip under the organic bed sheets at night, you can introduce eco-friendly toys, lubricants, massage oils and know you are doing your bit to help the environment and your own well being.
It is now possible to buy sex aids that are graded fully organic. Meaning all ingredients are animal and ethically friendly. They are good for the environment and for the body but if there is a call for such products, what are the normal high street toys doing to us? To start with, there are ingredients called plastic softeners used in some toys that are called phthalates (pronounced “thay-lates”). These are thought to contain carcinogens, in short, these are substances believed to be directly linked to causing cancer. To understand the severity to what we are, ahem, putting into contact with our bodies, carcinogens can be found in tobacco smoke and asbestos.
Mary Clegg, a Sex and Relationship Therapist and Chair of the British Association of Sexual Educators, explains the importance on why we should think more about the products that we are using in the bedroom, “I think we need to think about what we are putting in and around our bodies especially since a lot of sex toys are going toward a very sensitive part of our body which has a very thin cellular wall. We need to think about how inert things are because a lot of people are allergic to latex, a lot of people have vulva conditions which means they have to be extremely careful but they still have every right to a sex life.”
“There is no substantial evidence that the above toxins have a direct link to causing cancer, nor is there any information on the long term effects of using these products.” Mary continues to explain why she advises health professionals to steer more towards the organic way of life. “I don’t think the evidence is conclusive enough. As somebody who advises and trains health professionals, I tend to steer them away from [toxins] and into the more organic area. Some people will become hyper sensitive so we need to reduce the amount of toxins and not increase them.”
We all know being organic is better for our bodies, but what are the main differences between the conventional and the more expensive kind? Take food for example, organic farmers use natural fertilizers like manure over chemical ones that help the plants grow. Insecticides are used to rid the plants of pests and diseases whereas our organic friends prefer to use insects and birds which are beneficial to the crop. More chemicals in the form of herbicides are used to kill off weeds from the normal farmer compared to our green-fingered friends who pull out those weeds by hand or rotate their crops. As for the animals used for meat, organic animals are allowed access to outdoor sceneries, clean housing and are well looked after. It is believed standard animal farmers feed their animals’ growth hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease.
As for a person’s overall health, going organic has many positive effects. Aside the obvious benefits organic food can offer such as better nutrition, less likely to contract an illness and very little exposure to chemicals. They can contribute to a healthier body weight; provide better moods and general overall fitness due to their methods of production.
If you are concerned more about the ethics behind your sex gadget, then think about the lower end products on the market, which have probably been massed, produced in countries like China who are well renowned for their poor work ethic and worker’s rights.
Other ethical and organic products that have become more popular recently are the materials in clothing. Organic cotton is the main one, like with food; cotton fields are also sprayed with insecticides and pesticides, which can be ingested like the organic food. These sprays get into the air, absorbed into water and soil but the seed of cotton is also made into oil, which is used in processed foods. The ethical side to this is to consider the conventional method of collecting cotton, farms in developing countries employ children to pick the cotton, and being paid one to two cents for every pound they collect. This is then sold at 50 cents (US dollar) per pound.
Another shocking fact is the illness these workers can suffer from. Pesticide poisoning includes a set of horrific symptoms including headaches, memory loss, vomiting, severe depression, confusion, and loss of co-ordination, seizures and tremors. Of the estimated 5 million cases, 20,000 of these people end up being killed by this disease. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) has been created to aid those people in need. Various clothing companies support GOTS, which is constantly growing. The standard is not just to wipe out the use of pesticides and similar chemicals, but also to stop child labor and to provide fair employment rights ensuring a safe and clean working environment, fair wage and working hours.
Organic Pleasures is an independent store based in Edinburgh, Scotland and run by Lucy Tanat-Jones, she explains the reasons behind the idea. “ There was a lack of sophisticated boudoir shops for women in Edinburgh, there aren’t any, its just the licensed sex shops or kind of high street tacky shops. Nothing that focuses on sensuality and women really as they all seem to be about male fantasy so I decided to do a lot of research and open my own shop.”
The front of the shop is as classy as the inside, no tacky neon signs or flashing lights. It is warm, friendly with a burlesque inspired look. Unlike when wandering round a high street store and been harassed by staff earning commission; it is relaxed. No pressure to buy, no tacky embarrassing gimmicks hanging from the shelves. The shop’s decor screams nothing but class. So what do the general public make of this eco-erotic store? “Everybody who walks through the door, although some people may not have grasped what it is when they come in, are quite surprised, its never a negative response though” Lucy says. “It is always tough in the UK because we have got quite an old fashioned and don’t talk about it attitude so it takes a while for people to understand it is not something people need to be embarrassed about and that’s part of what I’ve tried to create here, a nice atmosphere, intimate products and to make it about pleasure.”
There is a wide range of product choice and all have been certified by the Soil Association, a charity organisation set up by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who look to promote plant, animal and human health along with good farming practice. Massage oils, lubricants, candles and body care are all organic. Everything is recyclable right down to the packaging and has been ethically produced in the UK. “I prefer to get it all done in the UK, I have sought out people who are experts in what the do and decide on one or two to use. It’s quite a long process.”
Organic Pleasures has been a long work in process, the main shop and online store opened in 2006 but it took a lot of preparation and hard work before Lucy could open the shop. “It is quite a long process, there was a couple of years of research and talking to the top formulators in the UK which was quite expensive. I just love projects and throwing myself into stuff but it involves talking to a lot of different people and knowing what it is in the market and on the shelves. You have to make sure its all natural and then go one step further by getting it certified. I just think it is much more pleasurable to have something that is good quality rather than just going to pick up a tube of fake cherry flavored massage oil for like £3 or whatever.”
It is a known fact that organic products are expensive; this is something Organic Pleasures have taken into account. Offering customers a basic, mid range and luxury type for every product sold. Her own ranges of toys are made from the cleanest and medically graded safe materials such as silicone, glass, stainless steel, wood and ceramic. One toy was made locally in Scotland, from Cherry wood. Sanded down to pure silk-like finish, the same material used in Rolls Royce’s car interiors.
The lingerie is just as ethical and safe as everything else at Organic Pleasures. A burlesque inspired range, all designed by Lucy herself to fit a standard English body which is why the 1930 – 40’s era seemed a perfect idea. Good fitting lingerie, in turn, will provide more confidence for a woman, which is what Organic Pleasures is all about. “I wanted a shop that sold everything for women to feel sexy in themselves. Made in England, silk lingerie and keeping mid price range. I wouldn’t spend £100 on a bra so I try and keep them more normal priced, in the £30-60s range.”
Lucy range is now taking off all across Europe and she has more designs in the pipeline. Although don’t expect to see her range of organic goodness on the high street any time soon, “That is so far removed from my philosophy and why I started it so that is the last thing I would want but definitely a couple of other boutiques and a few more shops up and down the country and across Europe.”
So do organic products of an erotic nature have the same effect on our health as the food and clothing? Mary offers her view, “Not sure it will make any difference but if you are comfortable about the product you use and you are not worried you are going to get a rash from it or develop some kind of reaction. It may certainly make for a better experience because you will have confidence in the product.”
Organic Pleasures is taking a new and innovative step in encouraging a person to take control for their well being. Not only can they feel more confident but also they can have some fun at the same time. So if you are thinking about taking an organic approach into the bedroom, then take Lucy’s advice as a final thought, “Your love life is paramount to one’s happiness.”
To find out more about Mary Clegg then visit www.basrt.org.uk (The British Association of Sexual and Relationship Therapists) or www.baseuk.org.uk which Mary is the chair of. Organic Pleasures can be found at www.organicpleasures.co.uk and to find out more about farm practice, environmental, human and animal health then go to www.soilassociation.org.