The Green Issue: Life and death — from green sex toys to an eco-funeral

Published April 14, 2010

LIFE
Now, we all know how life begins. When mommy and daddy love each other very much they get it on and make a baby. But if mommy and daddy want to be green about their naughty escapades, there are a surprising number of ways to be sexually sustainable.

If sex toys are your bag you should keep the environment in mind when shopping around for your dildos and vibrators. Stick with toys made from silicone, glass, metal or hard plastics, while avoiding toys containing plastic-softening chemicals like phthalates. If your toys are power tools, buy models that are rechargeable, or use rechargeable batteries to keep your little bedroom buddies humming.

When it comes to the slippery stuff, try to go all-natural. Stay away from petroleum-based lubes and artificial scents, flavors and colors. There are organic lubricants available too. With condoms, latex is always more biodegradable than polyurethane and protect against STDs. Lambskin condoms are fully biodegradable, but only protect against pregnancy, not infections. After your rubbers have done their duty, send them to the landfill as opposed to the toilet bowl. Clogged up pipes and treatment plants don’t conserve water. For that, try sharing a shower.

For more traditional lovers, a good romp can warm up the bed on cold nights so you can lay off that thermostat. A romantic candlelight dinner also saves electricity. Bamboo is a quickly renewable resource and makes for some comfy silky smooth bed sheets. It and other renewable fibers like hemp silk and organic cotton are also available in sexy eco-underwear form. But if you’re only planning to use them for the honeymoon, don’t bother. Your lingerie won’t be easy to recycle on Craigslist.

DEATH
As for the other inevitable part of our existence, eco-funerals are becoming more popular with each passing year. As more people try to live green lifestyles the number of environmentally conscious requests popping up in wills and advanced funeral wishes have been on the rise. Jason Toale of Toale Brothers Funeral Home & Crematory says the family business recently started offering green options for Sarasota families.

“A green burial to us is pretty standard,” says Toale. “It would be no embalming, removal from the place of passing to the funeral home, the body would be refrigerated and then taken directly to the cemetery. It’s not the typical visitation the night before and service in the church. A family may want different aspects but it’s basically pretty simply returning the body back to the earth.”

While there are few actual green cemeteries in Florida, Toale sees Sarasota as a city potentially on the forefront of this movement. “I think in the future I’m going to be seeing a lot more [green funerals] and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a green cemetery pop up around here,” he says. “It’s basically unmanicured pasture land that’s being used for a burial site. There are natural markers, no bronze. They’ll do granite instead. And graves are dug by hand, with no machines.”

As for now, the Toale Brothers offer a special casket that has been certified by the Green Burial Council, the authority on eco-friendly end-of-life ceremonies. “It’s basically made with as few materials as possible, uses natural and fair-trade materials, and it’s a water-based stain or vegetable-based bio-product and the interior is 100 percent natural cotton,” says Toale. “Cremation families may want to use this casket so I want to keep it reasonable for those families as well as burial families. It’s probably under our average casket cost.”

Cremation may not seem green, since burning anything releases pollutants into the environment, but modern crematoriums have gotten much better at reducing toxic emissions. “As far as cremation we have a heavy-duty cardboard encasement and a lot of people going the green route will choose those methods and put the remains in a biodegradable urn and they can bury that or spread it out in the water,” says Toale. “More and more people are saying, ‘When I set up my own arrangement I want to be cremated and scatter my ashes in the gulf.’”

Other ways to go out in green style are asking for living grave markers like trees or bushes as opposed to quarried headstones. You can also request that friends and family give donations to charities as an alternative to flowers and cards. Using recycled paper for programs can save trees and carpooling at the funeral motorcade can save gas. If you must have flowers and refreshments, always go for locally grown and organic. For the die-hard greenies (no pun intended), there are even ways to literally compost your remains — the ultimate gift to planet Earth.

Toale Brothers Funeral Home & Crematory, 40 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, 955-4171 or toalebrothers.com.

For read all of Creative Loafing’s Green Issue coverage, click here.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/srboisvert

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