Guy Winch
Source: Guy Winch

When one of my patients mentions a sexual practice I had not heard of previously (which, after 20 years of private practice in New York City, is a rare occurrence indeed), I consider it a quirk. When three different people mention the same practice in one week—as happened recently—I consider it a potential fad.

Sexual innovation is rare because almost everything has been done before. So what is this new fad?

It's called eco-sex, and it's concerned with the many potential ways we can reduce our carbon footprint during sexual activity.

I imagine some of you must be thinking—carbon? Really? Another emission I have to worry about in the bedroom? Well, perhaps not per se, but eco-sexuals do want to bring attention to how much carbon our sexual activities can contribute to the environment. From the chemicals used in condoms and lubricants to the materials in our sheets and mattresses and the candles we burn for mood and lighting, everything leaves a carbon footprint. And when it comes to carbon emissions in the bedroom—size does matter.

Our carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of our daily activities. It includes emissions from the cars we drive, the flights we take, the distance our food has to be shipped, the manufacturing processes of the products we purchase, the electricity we consume in our homes and offices, and countless other ways our consumption impacts the environment.

Obviously, the smaller our carbon footprint, the better.

The Joy of Eco-Sex

Stephanie Iris Weiss, author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable, expands the definition of eco-sex beyond reducing one’s carbon footprint during sexual activity and suggests we also limit products that are harmful to our bodies, such as certain perfumes and lubricants.

She advocates conflict-free diamonds on Valentine’s Day (then at least one aspect of the evening will be conflict-free); natural lubricants such as olive oil (don’t forget to wipe down the bottle before returning it to the kitchen); and low-impact lingerie.

Think Weiss is "out there"? She’s actually on the conservative side of the eco-sex movement. The website asks people to sign a manifesto which includes the following: “We massage the earth with our feet, we talk erotically to plants…are pleasured by waterfalls, and admire the Earth’s curves.”

Increasing Sustainability in the Bedroom

I'm all for environmentalism, as well as sustaining an active sex life throughout the lifespan of long-term relationships, and I believe long-term couples can always benefit from novelty. As such, practicing eco-sex can be just what some couples need to spice things up while feeling good about the environment. So break out the bamboo sheets, light up some soy candles, play some sexy whale calls, and go at it!

View my short and quite personal TED talk about Psychological Health here:

 Check out my new book (alas, it has nothing to do with eco-sex),  Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (Hudson Street Press, 2013).

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Copyright 2014 Guy Winch

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