How to Save the Planet While You're Having Sex

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Steven Clouse/Thrillist
Steven Clouse/Thrillist

Earth Day is April 22nd. It's a too-often-forgotten planetary holiday that we ought to be celebrating each and every time we hit the sheets -- or the shower. No matter what your political leaning, we generally all want to save something: the Earth, resources, money... So why can’t we do all three by reducing, reusing, and recycling when we have sex?

In spite of so many of us being raised to turn off lights, not waste water, and recycle (at least when it's convenient), we've been saddled with an ecologic crisis. Sex is an ethical matter. Climate change-related heat waves piss me off. So today, in honor of Mother Earth, here's my take on how our generation can stop jizzing in Gaia's eyeball.

Designate different bedding for different lovers

It's the polite thing to do! Change the sheets after a roll around in them with someone, before you roll around in them with someone else. If you see more than one person, and you don't want to waste gallons of water with each (laundry) load, strip the bed and set one set aside, then dress your bed in preparation for the other. Having different colors helps too. Jack is white sheets, Marcelle is blue, and Lee is red. How patriotic!

shower mist person shower sex

Don't have shower sex

You're wasting a ton of water! And meanwhile, parts of California are facing Stage 4 drought. I know, I know, I'm such a killjoy, but let's be honest: shower sex requires a lot of silicone lube to keep things slippery enough. Besides, you can only do like three positions anyway, and you might fall and bust an elbow. I do recommend shower play for anal play when hygiene is a concern. But not otherwise.

Buy high-quality sex toys

Only the finest silicones go inside of this gal. Don't purchase sex toys from large online or television retailers! These contraptions are often made in factories overseas, can't be returned if they arrive defective, are made out of all kinds of toxic additives like phthalates, and don't last nearly as long as better-built stuff.

Lots of shops now boast ethically made toys. Oregon has She Bop in Portland and As You Like It in Eugene. San Fransisco-based Good Vibrations has three locations; and Baltimore has Sugar, a woman-owned store that hosts workshops and educational events. Seattle-based Babeland now offers three locations in New York. If you live miles from any of these, thank gawd for discreet internet shopping. Especially if you live in Alabama.

cucumbers and cutting board

Or make your own sex toys

If you want to save money and prevent waste, look no further than your own home. A cutting board makes a fantastic paddle. A clean thigh sock is a easily washable and non-abrasive bondage rope. A pair of panties makes a nifty mouth gag -- and why not use that clean cucumber for something other than a salad? I'll be in the kitchen, honey.

Don't buy toy cleaner

Wash your sex toys, but use a non-corrosive, natural, and biodegradable soap along with a little warm water. Allow the toy to air dry. Adult novelty shops and retailers will always offer adult toy cleaner, but the truth is, you don't need all of those plastic bottles for extra cash.

Turn your sex toys into art

If you live in Alabama, this is a crime. If you live in Portland, this is street art.

Take the batteries out of your toy when it's not being used

This prevents corrosion caused by leaking batteries. If you feel that the strength in your favorite vibe is beginning to weaken, don't throw the batteries away. You can still use them for your remote.

Ah, the things I learned as a porn clerk.

Have sex parties

"Unplug for a while and be the entertainment," says pioneering pornographer Annie Sprinkle, PhD. Sex parties are relatively easy to organize; set some clear rules and boundaries. Yes to light drink and refreshments. Yes to protection and understanding consent. No to Snapchat.

"Eco sex means that we don't just treat the Earth like our mother, but we treat the Earth like our lover," SprinkIe says. "Get outside, feel the nettles against your skin, feel the sunshine on your body. Our bodies are made of mostly water. So when you have sex, make waves, whether it's big splashes or little ripples."

Our generation is living longer, and having more sexual partners, but it makes sense to listen to our foremothers from the era of free love and peace. If you're a modern millennial with a few partners in rotation, doesn't it make sense to reduce, recycle, and reuse when you hit the sheets? Now you, too, can help save Gaia when you're effing.

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Elle is a conservationist and feminist killjoy who has a decent sex life. Nurture your biases with her on Twitter: @ellestanger.