The Grapevine

Condom Challenge: Eco-Friendly CEO Jeffrey Hollender And Daughter Team Up To Produce 'Sustainable' Condom

Jeffrey and Meika Hollender
Jeffrey and Meika Hollender are a father-daughter duo that have teamed up to create an eco-friendly, sustainable brand of condoms. Jared Soule

Talking to parents about sex can definitely be uncomfortable, but what if you had to work with them in a job focused on sex. Too awkward, right?

Not for Meika Hollender, who calls it “interesting” working alongside her dad, Jeffrey, as they market their new condom brand, Sustain, which the father-daughter duo launched this past summer.  

“When an uncomfortable moment comes up, I laugh it off — it might end up in my next blog post,” she told the NY Daily News.

So how do a father and daughter end up working together in the condom industry? The business venture first started as an idea Jeffrey had 20 years ago to create a sustainable and eco-friendly condom. The approach involved using renewable resources from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Hollender came up with the idea at a time during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Twenty years ago, we were facing a greater AIDS crisis,” Hollender told Medical Daily. “There are a number of different businesses trying to figure out how to keep the rainforest intact.”

Hollender, the owner of Seventh Generation, an eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products company, approached the idea again a few years ago and pitched it to Meika with the intent of creating a brand that was more appealing to women. Meika, though hesitant at first, finally agreed to join her father, who wanted a young woman to help lead in the marketing process. Her decision was motivated by her surprise over how many of her peers, especially females, responded to the idea.

“Women felt left out of the conversation about condoms,” Meika told the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology. “They couldn’t relate to the marketing. Paired with that, as I talked with peers and asked about condom usage it was shocking that MBA women who are smart and successful weren’t using condoms consistently when they had sex.

When the two then set out to create their brand, though, they ran into some obstacles: for one, the fact that the Brazilian government had claimed the rainforest for its own resources.

“There was no additional capacity,” Hollender told Medical Daily. “We ended up using a plantation in Southern India.”

Kerala, the plant’s name, produces the condoms by extracting sap from trees, which it then sends to an eco-friendly facility that solidifies it through vulcanization. Kerala is the only plantation in the world that is fair trade certified, meaning it offers employees a decent wage, free education, and health care. It also does not rely on child labor. Finding the plant took six to nine months.

“In the condom industry, Sustain is the only one using fair trade rubber,” Katy Foley, an outside public relations consultant for Sustain, told Medical Daily.

The plant is also Forest Stewardship Council certified, meaning that it practices environmentally safe conservation tactics to protect forests and trees that the plant uses, thereby making the condom brand the first in the U.S. to be both fair trade and Forest-Stewardship Council certified.

The brand comes in three styles: Comfort Fit, Ultra-Thin, and Tailored Fit. The brand also has other “green friendly” qualities, including the fact it is a vegan product (uses no animal by-products) and is one of two out of the 10 most popular condom brands on the market that does not contain nitrosamine, a cancer-causing carcinogen linked to vaginal and cervical cancer.

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