Get nine women who have thought a lot about peak oil and climate change together around a dining room table, and perhaps expectedly, the conversation turns umm…blue. Get them around *my* dining room table and the turn to sex is pretty inevitable, given a certain native blueness (this is a polite way of saying “dirty mindness”). The absence of gents from this affair (completely unintended) made us rather uninhibited about certain subjects. And at the end of one conversation, I realized that I’ve got a rather gaping hole in my body of works on how to go forward into the future – I’ve never yet written a piece about sustainable sex toys and techniques. I promised the women at my table that I would remedy this.
I realize that Crunchy Chicken is probably going to sue me for infringing on her territory. She, after all, has already delved deep into handmade wooden dildoes, the forest sustainability of wooden spanking paddles and other pleasures. But I still want to go over the whole picture of good sex in the future – after all, this is one of those deep quality-of-life issues that seems mostly funny and trivial, and just isn’t. As long as we are facing a future in which many of the things we have valued are being lost, those of us who like that sort of thing will need regular orgasms. They lower stress, are good for your heart and can do a great deal to soften a whole lot of blows – my feeling is that you can endure a great deal if you know that you will have the occasional escape with the person or technique of your choice, if you get to feel loved and satisfied.
One of the good things about living in a culture in crisis is that most of the things you do in bed are pretty sustainable. Unless your fantasy life involves the mile-high club or fast cars, you can pretty much be sure that your sexual activities will be mostly human powered. Even if you make use of some latex or something electrically powered, it probably isn’t one of your big uses of resources. Still, many of us would prefer our sex life to be low impact. So what are our options for lowering it? And what can we do to prep to keep having hard times in harder times (ok, sorry, but you’ve got to let me do that occasionally ;-)), when toys, tools and power are less available to us?
The number one impact of our sex lives is whether anything long-term follows the act – ie, kids and diseases. The reality is that just as tightwad Amy Dacyzyn observed that you cannot save resources in menstrual supplies by being continually pregnant, you also can’t save on latex and plastics by getting pregnant a lot. Moreover, if you don’t want to be pregnant, being pregnant is a source of stress. Treating STDs is also not low impact. So prevention, prevention, prevention (assuming that you want to be preventing, in the case of pregnancy) is the rule.
The number one most sustainable method of contraception for them in heteroconditions (besides switching to a same-sex partner or celibacy, if that’s a reasonable option for you), suitable only for them that are not planning on reproducing or done is surgical – if you are het and in your breeding years, and you want to reduce your impact, get your dude to the vasectomy guy forthwith! We women can do this too, but it is much bigger surgery and higher impact, so gentlemen – be gentlemen.
If you aren’t ready for the surgical option, hormone based birth control probably has the highest impact, since we’re finding residues of these in our water tables. Barrier methods are better, if you are low fertility. Some people speak highly of natural fertility awareness, but this is a difficult method for people with high fertility, Jews who practice niddah, those with irregular periods and very young women – I think it is something a speciality method. But remember, again, lower impact birth control is only useful if it actually works. If you are crazy-fertile like me, use what you gotta if you don’t want more kids.
Do not neglect disease prevention. One good argument for stable partnerships is simpy that it allows you to get tested and give up many of the barrier accoutrements that go with playing around. Hang around each other long enough, and have sex only with each other long enough (and yes, I know, some people cheat, and nothing is perfect) and you can reduce your usage of condoms and dental dams as much as you feel cool with. But if you have any doubts about your partner, or you have had previous partners and haven’t been tested, again, the environmental impact of HIV drugs or treating genital warts is bound to be greater than all the condoms you could ever use. Obviously, if you have a chronic STD like HIV or herpes, make sure you stock a supply of protection – research the longest lasting varieties and store them carefully.
On to the fun parts. Don’t buy cheap plastic crap, including cheap plastic sex toys. Buy higher quality silicone, glass or metal products. Don’t lube up with vaseline or other related petro-crap. If you aren’t using condoms or dental dams that could be destroyed by the oils, my personal favorite lube is coconut oil – solid at room temp, it melts in your hands, smells and tastes good, etc… But astroglide does have a glycerine option, while others are fairly low impact as well. Again, if you are using condoms or dental dams, don’t use oils – use a lube designed for the purpose. If you are into scent, it is not difficult to make your own scented lubes from oils (if you are post-condom) or glycerin.
Many women and some men are extremely fond of small buzzy objects – more women are involved because it is generally (not always) harder for women to get off than men. Most lovers vibrate fairly well, but perhaps not at the same speed as one’s battery powered friend. Now I have to warn you – in an actual end-of-all scenario, your vibrator will not outlast your desire for it. Even the best constructed vibe is probably not good for more than a decade. But consider it a useful transitional technology – the odds are that if the zombies come, there will be a certain amount of running around and screaming, but also long periods of boredom. During the transitional period, you can train up your preferred gent or lady in the gifts of high speed motion in precise locations with hand or mouth – you will have the time to master this skiil, before the last day that your buzzing friend peters out.
Which means that if vibrations are your thing, it is worth investing in a high quality vibrator, not made of cheap plastic, and a couple of sets of batteries and a solar batery charger. For less than 100-200 dollars, you can ensure that your household is set for the apocalypse on this particular front. Or, if you have more money or take this more seriously, you could install solar panels and choose a plug in model. I’ve never actually met anyone who reasoning for installing PV was so they could run their sex toys after the apocalypse, but hey…
I recently had a reader ask me about natural substitutes for viagra. This gentleman emailed me to observe that since a recent medical crisis, he has relied on viagra or one of its equivalents to keep things happy around his house. His observation was that this was an important quality of life issue for him and his partner, and he really wanted to be able to keep going if times got hard. This is a perfectly reasonable concern, and while I couldn’t give him any actual analysis of how shelf stable viagra is when stored (you’ll have to contact the medical manufacturer), a US government program on shelf-stability showed that the majority of medications decline in quality very slowly after their expiration dates. I advised the person in question to contact the drug manufacturer and ask whether his specific medication becomes toxic over time. If it does not, he should be able to stockpile and store.
For those who rely on other medications to make their sex lives work – hormones for those who have gender transitioned, for women who suffer from vaginal pain or severe dryness and others, again, stockpile and research. In many cases you can store a good supply, if you can afford them. If not, you can also consider joining with other medication-dependent people in your community to talk to both drug companies and local emergency infrastructure about ensuring drug supplies coming in during periods of disruption.
There are herbal alternatives listed for lack of desire in both men and women, but I honestly can’t tell you much about whether or how they work or which ones are safe. Sometimes, for reasons of illness or stress, things just aren’t working in our bodies. The reality is that less affluence may mean that most of us can do little about this, other than accept it, offer kindness, respect and affection in ways we can share, and love one another as best we can. Recognizing that every life has periods in which sex drives and abilities do not match up, is, IMHO, a real part of being together with anyone. That doesn’t make this easy, though. If you are struggling with this issue, try and figure out what the problem is now, while medical interventions are mostly available.
I can’t hope to cover the full range of tastes and desires out there. Stockpile and store is good advice no matter what your preferences are, or whether you are partnered or not. Some things, like the beautiful wooden dildoes that La Crunch featured on her site in links above are actually pretty easy to keep coming in tough times. Vegetables are even easier, if that’s your thing. If not, I would suggest a stockpile of your favorite sustainable perfume, brand of chaps, erotic poetry, six inch heels, or whatever floats your particular boat.
Stress is tough on most people, sexually speaking. One of the things that is likely to happen in tough times is that people stop wanting to have sex, not just for health or biochemical reasons, but also, because they are stressed and overwhelmed. This can put more pressure on an already strained partnership. It is really hard when there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, and you are overwhelmed, to put it aside for a little while and just attend to sex, but I think it is worth it. I already know people who, having encountered peak oil and climate change, are chronically so stressed out that they don’t want to make love. It is tough enough to help a partner transition through new knowledge – taking away lovemaking will not help with that transition. I know that this is easier said than done, but try and step back and remember one another.
On the other hand, much of the life of the sustainable is very vital and sensual. One of the great things about living a less mediated, more material life is that it is really pretty hot. Going out into the garden, working together side by side, filling a basket with lush produce, watching a loved one use their bodies in unaccustomed ways. These things wake us up and bring us together. There’s no point in resisting – there’s a reason why they call it “a roll in the hay.” Might as well roll!
For all of this focus on equipment, most of the tools for really good sex are not tools at all, and they will be with you always. They are looking and listening carefully to the one you are with. They are the wise use of hands and mouths and mind. They are the application of love, generosity, kindness and affection. These things will not run out anytime soon. They are not subject to depletion, and we have them now for our enjoyment, and should keep them in good order.