The Founder of Vermont’s Seventh Generation Is Making Eco Condoms
We buy our groceries at Whole Foods because we want to know where our produce comes from. We buy plastics made without BPA. We even buy lotions and makeup that are natural and/or organic made without chemicals and toxins. Yet many of us are still using the same old condoms that we’ve used for years without thinking anything of it. And what are those condoms made with? Many contain parabens, casein (a milk protein—sorry, vegans), and various chemicals (especially if you get condoms with extra lubricant or spermicide).
Jeffrey Hollender, the founder of Seventh Generation, the Vermont-based green cleaning company whose products range from bathroom cleaners to face serums, and his daughter Meika, are putting a stop to the nonsense by creating a condom line called Sustain Condoms. ABC news reported that the new condoms are made of latex described by the company as non-toxic and produced in a rubber plantation in India with fair-trade and fair-wage credentials, and are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
But the ABC story may have the world’s worst headline, “Move Over Trojans, Condoms Appeal to Crunchy Women.” Wait…what? It’s amazing that in today’s world, where shopping at Whole Foods, buying products without cancer-causing chemicals, and practicing yoga are a part of the norm, the editor’s at ABC still think this kind of behavior is…crunchy?
Regardless, Sustain Condoms are targeting women. And for good reason. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation very publicly asked for the world to try and “build a better condom” in March 2013. One year later, they received more than 813 entries, 11 of which received $100,000 each to create the final product. But the Foundation’s call for the “next generation” condom was all about men. They asked for a condom that will “significantly preserve or enhance pleasure” for men. Sustain condoms are appealing to women who not only hate buying condoms (one trip down the aisle at your local Walgreens and you’ll notice the packaging is heavily geared towards men), but women who want a better sexual experience.
Jeffrey Hollender told ABC News, “We know from talking to buyers at major retail stores and drug stores where condoms are sold that women are a significant part of the market. Part of the challenge we are facing is the huge discomfort women feel buying condoms,” he says. “If a man buys them, he’s having sex and he’s cool. Women have a negative attitude.”
The Hollenders said that women are looking for more natural products with less exposure to chemical additives. They want to be able to see the ingredients on condom labeling and decide for themselves. Some condoms can contain harsh additives such as glycerin, paraben and spermacides, which can irritate the vagina. “We will list all the ingredients that go into the manufacturing of the product on our website,” said Hollender.
The Hollenders also said the condoms made of natural latex are not wasteful, which is better for the environment, and that many condoms today are made from synthetic materials because of concerns about allergies to latex.
Trojan Brand gave a statement to ABCNews.com regarding the claim that there are harsh chemicals in their condoms. The company said:
“The Trojan Brand takes rigorous steps and precautions to ensure that our users are getting the best quality condoms from a brand trusted over 90 years and their safety and pleasure is at the forefront of each of our innovations. It’s important to note that the US FDA has strict rules about manufacturing standards for medical devices such as condoms. Trojan condoms have a decades-long history of safe use, and for many consumers are the best choice for prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”
Sustain Condoms are not the first eco condoms on the market, but they do have the Hollender name behind them. And while some people may scoff at the idea of a more “natural” condom, I’m personally a fan of Seventh Generation cleaning products, and so this “crunchy” gal just may check them out.