Ditch the Victoria’s Secret and put down those diamond earrings; sustainable undies and vintage gems are way sexier and more original to boot. Ethical consumption might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not just a trend for Americans with guilty consciences. The consequences of free trade on the environment and workers (many of whom live in the developing world) are far-reaching and destructive. Consuming ethically means acknowledging that while we can’t account for the supply or production chain of all products we consume, we try to the best of our ability to buy things that are good for the Earth, good for our bodies, and good for our soul (meaning that we approve of how they were made).
Ideally, we’d give up presents altogether for holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s which mandate unnecessary consumption to an appalling extent. But seeing as how that’s unlikely, I’ve written up a guide to sex- and earth-positive gifts, most of which are made by independent designers themselves or workers paid a living wage. Plus, tomorrow, I’ll be announcing the details for a giveaway of several featured products, including the Njoy Pure Wand and OhMiBod’s Naughtibod!
FOR THE LOVEMAKING, WAR-HATING PROTESTOR
The first-ever vibrator that can be used during intercourse, the We-Vibe was invented as an alternative to the poorly designed, cheap, and sometimes toxic sex toys on the market. Made from 100% medical grade silicone, the flexibility and innovative shape of the product allows for simultaneous clitoral and G-spot stimulation. After testing one, I can testify that the small device packs a powerful punch and is surprisingly comfortable even during penetration (though sadly, my We-Vibe is no longer functional thanks to an encounter with a European outlet!). Powered by a rechargeable battery, it is also made in strict adherence to health and environmental guidelines.
Yes Pure Intimacy
Yes, “the world’s only certified organic intimate lubricant”, is formulated from plant-based ingredients that nourish rather than irritate your most intimate areas. Made ethically so that it won’t stain your conscience or your bed sheets, Yes is also the only approved paraben-free product on the market for breast cancer patients who can’t use the traditional drugstore options. Check out their website to see how Yes stacks up against brands like Durex and K-Y Jelly. Their water-based formula ($34), one of the prizes in my giveaway, is safe to use with all condoms, while their oil-based lubricant ($34) doubles as massage oil.
JimmyJane just released the new pink version of their waterproof FORM 6 massager ($185), pictured right, which won the prestigious IDEA Award from BusinessWeek and the Industrial Designers Society of America. Fully submersible and bath-friendly, it’s one of the only vibrating massagers in the world that is both rechargeable and waterproof. In honor of Valentine’s Day, they’re giving away a pink FORM 6 on Facebook. To enter the contest, go to their Facebook page before February 11th, become a fan, and leave a comment about a favorite product (or dream product) from JimmyJane.
Good Clean Love
The “cleanest, truly natural, water-based personal lubricants on the market”, Good Clean Love is as pure as you can get. The water-based formula ($16) is infused with real herbs and flowers to create a deep scent and blended with aloe vera and seaweed for a smooth, long-lasting glide that responds to your natural lubrication. Safe to use with condoms and toys, it’s also 99.9% vegan with no animal products or animal testing. You can win a bunch of products from their line in my giveaway!
Just In Case
Made with a mirror and a hidden condom compartment, these discreet condom holders from Just In Case double as sleek compacts. The company, which is run by a mother-daughter team, donates a percentage of their profits to AIDS research and women’s health charities. Ten percent of every sale of their special JUST IN CASE® YouthAIDS RendezVous Red compact ($20) goes directly to YouthAids, an HIV/AIDS education andprevention initiative of the global health organization PSI. In the upcoming giveaway, you can win one too!
Hoping to turn your bedroom into Amateur Night? Drop her a hint with an item from GothFox’s range of nipple pasties ($14-35) which include heart-shaped, feathered, and rhinestone designs. Each pair is hand made to order, tassels included! Even if you’re not dating a burlesque dancer, the company promises that these “will look fabulous either onstage or in the bedroom.”
Victoria’s real secret? Appalling labor practices. Luckily, the makers of Urban Fox have come out with a line of sustainable undies ($35-40) which should leave your booty unconflicted. Made from soft bamboo and organic cotton fabric, these vintage-inspired, locally-produced creations mimic classic pinup styles. As UrbanFox says, “Being green and being sexy are not mutually exclusive.”
FOR THE PUNK ROCK PRINCESS
“Love Songs Vol. 1″ is LA-based fashion label Every Little Counts’ newest collection, a nostalgic tribute to classic love songs. Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, this limited edition line is a wearable mix tape featuring favorites like “Feel Like Making Love” (left) to “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” ($32 each). Sex and the Ivy readers can get 10% off with the promo code “IVY”.
Founder Suki Dunham told me that she started OhMiBod two years ago with the goal of making the “first socially acceptable vibrator by making [her] products women friendly and approachable.” The smaller version of OhMiBod, the Naughtibod ($69) is travel-friendly and purse-sized but its orgasmic potential is just as impressive. Though best used with iPods and iPhones, it’s also compatible with other MP3 players, laptops, home stereos, CD players (old school!), and even electric guitars! With a dual end cap, you can enjoy the Naughtibod even when your iPod’s out of juice. I’ll be testing one and giving another away to one of two lucky grand prize winners!
One of my favorite bands, The Virgins, are storming the Great Scott stage in Boston with their amped-up tunes and electro-pop madness on Saturday, February 7th. Thanks to the reader who gave me the tip-off, I’ll be in attendance, and so should you. For an early Valentine’s gift, get tickets ($10) here.
FOR THE ANTI-SWEATSHOP FASHIONISTA
Conceived by two designers who met through a sublet, Sublet Clothing offers locally-produced garments made from organic cotton and bamboo (a fast-growing, sustainable resource). Written up by fashion mags and green bloggers alike, Sublet demonstrates that sustainable can be glamorous. The Becca top ($89) pictured above is available online or at Camilla boutique in Brooklyn.
Independent jewelry makers like Mollie Dash offer an important alternative to consumers who don’t want to support a jewelry industry that obtains its precious metals and stones from industrial mining, which causes severe environmental damage and exploits developing world workers. Mollie, who works from her studio in Brooklyn, uses “discarded, thrifted, donated, and yard sale-derived materials” and limits her use of new stones to create her line of one-of-a-kind eco-friendly jewelry and keychains ($14-100+) like these made from skeleton keys. Written up in New York Magazine and NYLON, her work is sold online through her website, her Etsy shop, and Clothespin (an indie sample sale site that also stocks Sublet).
Originally started for an event benefitting an animal rescue organization, Latish Angeline Designs has come a long way from dog necklaces. Nowadays, designer Natalie lives in the oldest wildlife refuge in North America, where she makes feathered hairclips ($20-22), better known as “fascinators”, inspired by the variety of exotic birds around her home.
The product of a one-night-stand between a corset and a leotard, Twin Syndrome’s high-rise undies ($20) can be worn under lowrise jeans to avoid inadvertent crack-attacks or under slinky dresses for a smooth look. With a rise that goes past the natural waistline, the look is way more pin-up than granny. Sex and the Ivy readers can get 25% of their purchase price refunded if they quote “SEXANDTHEIVY” in the “Note To Seller” box when they buy. Plus, I’m giving one pair away to a reader!
After she quit her job at an environmental nonprofit, Monica started Wonderwear, selling creations like this adorable “Love at First Look” heart scarf ($32) hand-stitched from felted wool, fleece, and upcycled snaps. Every piece she produces is one of a kind and made from upcycled/recycled material.
FOR THE ASS-KICKING, NAME-TAKING FEMINIST
Inspired by the collection of papers she had amassed over the years, Katie started Moonlight Bindery and designed high-quality handbound books and photo albums out of repurposed material. Her New Yorker journals ($37) are created from actual covers of magazines and are filled with 100% recycled paper from the family-owned French Paper Mill. Sex and the Ivy readers can get free shipping by mentioning “SEXANDTHEIVY” in the “Note To Seller” box.
FOR MEN AGAINST “THE MAN”
Hand-fashioned from vintage watch movements, these cufflinks ($60) from London Particulars are made by a husband-wife team inspired by the steampunk aesthetic. Quirky and one-of-a-kind, they’re perfect for the sleeves of gentlemen rebels and fathers alike (my friend just purchased one for her dad!). Sex and the Ivy readers qualify for free shipping on all London Particulars jewelry.
American Apparel meets New England sports in this new line of athletic apparel made with both fashion and fan in mind. Boston-based CPR Gear (which stands for the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox) calls itself “the heartbeat of New England”. Lightly printed on label-less tees, these vintage style shirts ($32) look as good at the stadium as they do at dinner. (And for the ladies, shirts are cut in a more slimming and flattering shape!) I have three of these shirts for winning entries in my giveaway.
Stuff Made From Stuff
Using actual computer hard drives as the basis for his creations, designer Allan takes apart and converts them into these quirky clocks ($32+). By obtaining materials through donations or dumpster diving expeditions, Allan hopes to reuse other people’s discarded items to “postpone the life of retired modern gadgets”. All hand made by the designer himself, the clocks are a perfect addition to the desk of your favorite tech geek. Sex and the Ivy readers qualify for a 20% discount the entire month of February and can win a clock in my giveaway.
Recommended to me by a reader, the Pure Wand ($110), like all Njoy products, is designed to be gender-neutral and is made from recycled medical-grade steel by Chinese workers who are paid a living wage (in yuan). Co-founder Greg DeLong told me that the Pure Wand is “equally effective for both g-spot massage and prostate massage” and has “garnered quite a reputation for helping to induce female ejaculation”. Currently the top-selling dildo at Babeland, it’s the perfect gift for enlightened boyfriends who appreciate prostate-induced orgasms. The other grand prize winner will get be getting one of these in the mail! (I’ll also be testing a Pure Wand out myself.) Not a winner? Snag one of these babies or any Njoy product for 10% off by mentioning “SEXANDTHEIVY” on their website.
FOR THE DOMESTICATED-BY-CHOICE (BUT EDUCATED-IN-CASE) HOMEMAKER
Gleena (Russian for “clay”) offers up beautiful, nature-inspired porcelain pieces like these dessert plates ($35). Handmade in Rhode Island, Gleena products have been featured in publications like Food & Wine, O, and Body + Soul. Unfortunately, orders won’t be filled until after February 17th as the woman in this one-woman operation is currently off on a romantic holiday.
Everyday Housewife Aprons
Don’t just kiss the chef; clothe her! Fashionable cooking attire isn’t easy to come by, but these sexy aprons from Everyday Housewife are both functional and feminine. Joan personally makes each and every one of these aprons from high quality, designer fabrics and offers them at an extremely affordable price ($25-30). Previously featured on Good Morning America and HGTV, they’ll be next appearing in my kitchen.
FOR THE ANIMAL-LOVING BEAUTY JUNKIE
Stella Marie Soaps
Unlike what’s offered at the grocery store, handmade soaps don’t contain detergents that irritate your skin and pollute it with chemicals. Stella Marie, named after owner Kim Gonzaga’s two grandmothers, offers products like this Choc-o-rotic (Chocolate Mint) Massage Bar ($4) which are both skin-friendly and delicious-smelling. According to Kim, her products are 98% natural, save for cosmetic grade fragrance and skin safe dye.
These handcrafted olive-oil based soaps, like the Chelsea Garden Spa Soap ($6) pictured left, are as tantalizing to smell as they are to look at. Using ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter, owner Karen creates her completely vegetarian soaps in small batches. The Mini Candy Trio (limited edition for Valentine’s) is already nearly sold out.