Going into business with family has its challenges, but getting into the condom and lubricant business with your father? That’s not only hard, it’s also pretty odd.
That’s exactly the business Meika Hollender has found herself in with her father, Jeffrey Hollender, the former CEO of Seventh Generation, a green cleaning and personal care products company. Together the two of them founded Sustain, another personal care company looking to bring condoms and lubricants that are green, vegan and fair trade to the wider market.
Believe it or not, most condoms aren’t vegan. Many condoms include casein, an animal by-product that helps make the condoms smooth.
As for the fair trade aspect? According to Meika Hollender, the rubber used in Sustain’s condoms come from the only fair trade rubber plantation in the world.
“What that means is there’s no children working on the plantation. There’s a hospital next to the plantation that all the rubber tappers can use for free, [and the] same with schools for their children. It’s a very different place than any other rubber plantation that’s not fair trade because the rubber industry is actually a really dark industry from a child labor standpoint.”
A plus to using vegan, green and fair trade rubbers? There are no carcinogens in these jimmies.
“What’s different about the condoms is that 90 percent of condoms sold in the US contain a carcinogen in the latex called nitrosamines. This isn’t something that these other manufacturers are adding, they’re not purposefully adding carcinogens to the condoms but when you’re heating and molding the latex, it’s a chemical reaction that occurs.”
Sustain isn’t big on talking about this though, because according to them their goal is to get more people to use condoms, not scare them away from using them.
“I think part of a consumer’s right is to know,” Jeffrey Hollender explained, when asked if Sustain has created many ripples in the industry by eliminating carcinogens from their condoms. They have, but not many. For instance, after an independent report about the levels of nitrosamines, several companies pledged to reduce carcinogen levels in their condoms.
“If you’re going to buy something and particularly put it inside your body, you have a right to know what’s in it,” Hollender said.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely @mattlee2669.