Light rail, bike paths, Forest Park—Portland is earnestly environmental, consistently ranked among America's greenest cities. But as clean as it is, our city has a dirty side. Portland is said to have the most adult businesses per capita of any city in America. Vegas included. Video arcades, titty bars and toy stores—we've got them all, in droves. Now a local couple has folded these two quirks of our city's personality into a single sales pitch: environmentally friendly sex toys.
Last October, Alliyah Mirza and Jonas Sapienza started Earth Erotics, an online retailer of eco-friendly adult toys. Sustainable dildos, if you will. "We're like the natural-food store of sex toys," says Mirza, who studies environmental law at Lewis & Clark College by day and updates EE's website (eartherotics.com) by night. "Our toys are like organic food. Non-organics aren't going to kill you, but organics are a better option. We provide a better option."
The other, more traditional option is decidedly un-green polyvinyl chloride or PVC, the unregulated adult toy industry's material of choice. Alone, PVC pollutes—from manufacturing to disposal—with a bevy of nasty chemicals, including cancer-causing dioxins. And it's not recyclable. For use in sex toys, PVC has to be softened with chemicals called phthalates, which the European Union has already banned from children's toys. Phthalates have been linked to a laundry list of health problems, from obesity to kidney disease to abnormal estrogen production and prenatal genital development. Not exactly stuff suited for your body's most sensitive, absorbent areas.
In contrast, all Earth Erotics toys are made from safe and green materials: silicone vibrators, hempseed oil lubricants, Pyrex glass "wands," even floggers cut from recycled rubber innertubes. Also, because they're nonporous, unlike PVC, glass and silicone can be boiled, which is a bit more sterile than a baby wipe once-over.
Staying healthy and eco-friendly does cost a little extra. Most EE toys cost around $50. The "Queen Fulfiller" glass wand (hefty enough to give Dale Chihuly a complex) runs $90, and the Sinnflut rechargeable vibrator clocks in at $110—spendy, but you won't run out of AAs at the wrong time. "It's that conscious-consumer idea," says Mirza. "You vote with your dollar—who do you want to vote for?"
Ultimately, EE's success hinges on the environmental movement's new ethic—the integration of green ideals into daily (or nightly) life. "There shouldn't be this disconnect," says Mizra. "People are like, 'Oh, we're green' and then, 'Oh, we're all sexy.' Let's have both."