Since launching in 2013, Sustain Condoms, the first Fair Trade-certified brand of condoms, has been cheekily encouraging its target market — women ages 25-35 — to “Do what’s natural.”
Now, the company’s latest campaign, “Protect Your Environment,” addresses the tendency of millennials to care more for the environment than their own bodies, and encourages them to guard their sexual health as they would their environs.
“As a millennial, and based on statistics like ‘1 in 4 women contract an STD their first year of college’ and ‘only 21 percent of single, sexually active women use condoms regularly,’ I think it is safe to say that many young women are not taking their sexual health as seriously as they should be,” co-founder Meika Hollender told me in a recent interview. “As a generation we’ve embraced long-form contraceptives such as the pill and the IUD, and as great as they are, these forms of birth control have enabled us to stop relying on condoms, which are the only method that prevent against STDs and HIV. I think it’s time that young women understand the importance of their sexual health to their overall health.”
Sustain Condoms were created by Seventh Generation co-founder Jeffrey Hollender, along with daughter Meika and wife Sheila. About 20 years ago, Jeffrey trademarked the name “Rainforest Rubbers,” planning to make condoms from Amazonian rubber, but he went on to start Seventh Generation instead. Then the idea re-emerged and became a family affair.
So what was the inspiration behind a sustainable condom?
“The eureka moment was all Jeffrey — he is a pioneer in the sustainable products space, so whenever he thinks of a business or product he first figures out how to make it as sustainable as possible,” Meika said. “He traveled all over Asia, and spent many months researching the rubber industry and the make-up of condoms, which is how we found our Fair Trade rubber plantation and how we discovered that most condoms typically contain nitrosamines.”
Nitrosamine is a carcinogenic chemical commonly found in latex. Sustain Condoms are free of toxic chemicals — another sustainable selling point.
”To me, the most important aspect of our ‘greening’ of condoms is that we have removed nitrosamine from condoms,” Meika said. “8 of 10 condom brands tested by the Reproductive Healthcare Technologies Group were found to have nitrosamine in some or all of their products, and as a young woman who is adamant about limiting the toxins I put in and on my body, removing this carcinogen from a product that goes inside women was critical.”
As for reactions to the photo campaign so far, Meika said it’s been “very positive! We’ve even had a few other brands with somewhat phallic-shaped products ask if we can create something similar with them!”