Fair trade condoms

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With the slogan ÒDo WhatÕs NaturalÓ, a father-daughter business team is about to bring the Fair Trade concept where itÕs never gone before.

Hitting store shelves in Januray 2014, Sustain Condoms are the first fair-trade, toxic-free condoms in the U.S. and are marketed toward women, said CEO Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation, who is developing his latest venture with his daughter Meika.

Sustain CondomsÕ fair-trade label means that SustainÕs 1,100 employees in the State of Tamilnadu, southern India, where production is based, receive a fair salary for their labor, he said.

Ò[Sustain Condoms] are made with fair-trade latex,Ó Hollender said. ÒThat means the rubber tappers who harvest the latex receive higher than normal wages, their children are able to go to school for free, they have free health care, and have better housing.Ó

It turns out that making condoms and their production safer has been of interest to Hollender for decades. He told brandchannel.com that 20 years ago, he trademarked the name ÒRainforest RubbersÓ with the idea of using Amazon-harvested rubber, but instead went on to create Seventh Generation.

Recent findings have directed SustainÕs operations. Dangerous chemicals like nitrosamines and odor eliminating compounds are commonly found in condoms, according to a July 2012 study conducted by the Chemical and Veterinary Investigative Institute based in Stuttgart, Germany.

This prompted Hollender to specifically exclude poisons such as these in their product, making their condoms much safer, he said.

Countering what Hollender views as a product primarily marketed to men, Sustain advertises their condoms toward women.

ÒThe decision [to market towards women] was really driven by that women are increasingly buying condoms, and that we did not see any brands on the market that really focused on women and the issues that women are most concerned about,Ó Hollender said.

In fact, women buy 40 percent of condoms that are sold, according to Seventh GenerationÕs research.

HollenderÕs daughter, Meika Hollender, a recent graduate of NYUÕs Stern Business School, is responsible for marketing and is the spokesperson for Sustain. ÒThey want simplicity and something that will work and not something that has all these added things that contribute to Ôbody burnÕ,Ó she told brandchannel.com in July.

ÒWe live in Vermont, and weÕre committed to helping the Vermont economy and keeping the business in Vermont,Ó Hollender said.

Likewise, city officials are looking forward to working with the new business in Burlington.

ÒAny time you have a local business with an ethos of sustainability, we are in favor of working with that business,Ó Nate Wildfire, assistant director of economic development at BurlingtonÕs office of economic development said. ÒWhile I canÕt predict how people will react to it, Burlington tends to be progressive and welcoming.Ó

Agrin Davari, an international student from Iran, said she supports Sustain CondomÕs mission.

ÒI would use them,Ó Davari said. ÒI happen to be an agricultural study major, and I was involved in organic movements back home. [I believe] this is a good thing.Ó

Sustain Condoms will be sold through their website and other online retailers, as well as retail, health, drug, and grocery stores in the Burlington area. The first run will be sold at national retailers like Whole Foods and Sephora as well as university health clinics.