Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Making Love Without Ruining the Planet

During a sexual relation, our private parts get in contact with chemical compounds – that generate reactions still unknown in our body, among them silicate powder and parabens preservatives. A study published in 2014 by the Reproductive Health Technologies Project and the Center for Environmental Health found cancerous nitrosamines in 16 of 23 condoms tested, and there is nothing exciting about it.

In addition to being extremely dangerous to our health, latex large-scale production interferes directly in the biochemical carbon cycle and threatens biodiversity and water quality in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia. In 2013, the US Department of Labor reported that factories in Southeast Asia, which export 70 percent of the global supply of rubber, use slave labor on their plantations.

Very different from the short period of time that condoms are used in intercourse, latex takes about 20 years to decompose into nature in its natural form, generating a rapidly renewed and irregularly discarded garbage – which often has as final destination the stomach of marine animals, that has nothing to do with our sexual appetite. And a detail: did you know that condoms, used or not, should go to the organic garbage?

Image Credit: Instagram/@sustain

With the idea of offering a more pleasurable sex for both your clients and the planet, Meika Hollender created the brand of condoms and feminine toiletries Sustain, sustainable and vagina-friendly. “I have spent much of my career working with corporations, especially companies that make consumer packaged products. My experience in large traditional companies is what led me to want to be an entrepreneur and start a new model”, she affirmed to Vice in an article published in 2014. The Hollender family is an old known in the sustainable market: Meika’s father, Jeffrey Hollender, is the author and activist that created the Seventh Generation, a company that sells and formulate plant-based products.

Sustain also produces tampons, lubricants, wipes, massage oil, lip and body balm and body wash. The condoms, which are produced in a nearby syndicated factory supplied by solar panels and have already won prizes for safe water, do not have harmful chemicals, are animal cruelty-free, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) and vegan. And what is more incredible, you get to know all of this only by reading its label.

Lauren Singer, who lives a zero-waste lifestyle in New York and share this amazing journey in her website Trash is for Tossers, interviewed Meika and told her about the difficult to find a way to protect herself and reduce the impact of the garbage that she generates for the planet: “I use condoms. Sex makes trash. But I definitely want to protect myself. Yet with so many options: birth control, IUD, condoms, dental dams and a slew of other things, it seems really hard to choose the best option. The fact of the matter is I don’t want an IUD, no thank you to a copper sculpture of ovaries in my ovaries, and I don’t want a pill playing battleship with my hormones, so no birth control. I want my contraception to have as little physical impact on me as possible – and so that leaves me with condoms. On top of that it’s really difficult to know where sustainability comes into play because it’s not really a selling point when you are trying to avoid getting pregnant or contracting STD’s. Girl says to guy at pharmacy ‘Excuse me, is it possible to save the rainforest while also staving off chlamydia?’. During the conversation, Lauren said that talking about sex is still difficult for her. 

Image Credit: Instagram/@sustain

Harley Hubbard, from Tennessee (US), is part of the 40% of girls who buy condoms by themselves and feels responsible for the choices she makes for the planet and for her health. When talking to Her Campus about the insecurity that some people claim to have in relation to condoms being natural, as if they were less resistant, she told that it feels basically the same, a little thinner and stretcher, but that was great for her and her boyfriend. Harley also raised an important point about using natural products for personal hygiene, which we do not pay much attention to. She commented that used to feel very strong cramps and by using Sustain’s natural products felt a considerable improvement, “knowing I’m using a product that’s better for my body puts my mind at ease and makes me feel overall better”.

Sustain has begun to gain market by supporting free and conscientious sex, but got famous especially by encouraging women’s debate about what they should and can do about their own bodies.  Currently, in addition to encouraging girls to make more conscious and healthier choices, 10% of the profits go to supporting women’s reproductive health. Lauren finish the publication about the meeting she had with Meika with a valuable advice: “Take aways? Protect yourself. Have fun. Be mindful. Use protection. Remember everything that you buy, even condoms, has an impact and you as a consumer can be powerful and make a choice to 1) be informed and 2) buy better”.

Giovanna Stival

Casper Libero

Giovanna is a young Journalism student currently living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Most part of the time she's busy gathering books she promises to read one day, following what happens in the White House and looking for stories that deserve to be told.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️