Teens Turning Green Blog

Consciousness, Carcinogens… and Condoms.

“A lot of us are very focused on eating organic food, not using toxic skin care, yet somehow only 19% of single young women are using condoms regularly.” – Meika Hollender, Co-founder of Sustain

Today, Teens Turning Green, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and Sustain are launching a campaign to raise awareness about a common household carcinogen you might not know about… it’s called Nitrosamine.

What are Nitrosamines?  They are chemical by-products that form during the rubber manufacturing processes. Latex (the material most condoms are made from) is actually made form the sap of rubber trees. Essentially, conventional condoms are likely to contain some amount of this cancer causing toxin that can be absorbed by the body… especialy such a sensitive part of the body.

Is this news to you? It certainly was news to me! I sat down with Sustain condoms co-founder and Marketing Director, Meika Hollender to get myself sorted.

C to C: What makes Sustain condoms sustainable?

MH: “First, the latex. Latex is the sap of a rubber tree so the great thing about latex is that you can tap the rubber trees for decades without harming the tree. It’s already sort of a renewable and sustainable resource.

What we learned was that most rubber plantations in the world have tons of child labor, have terrible labor practices, and use tons of pesticides. We quickly learned that and sought out the only Fair Trade certified rubber plantation in the world that makes latex for condoms. So, the Fairtrade component is huge for us.

The plantation is also FSD certified so that all the biodiversity at the plantation is very well kept and regulated.

Also, something that most people don’t know, which I also didn’t know before starting Sustain is that 8 out of 10 condom brands sold in the US contain a carcinogen called Nitrosamine. Nitrosamine is something that actually also exists in other products but what we found a little scary about Nitrosamine in condoms is that it actually releases from the latex when it is exposed to heat and moisture. So, you can use your imagination about when it gets released. It actually goes into the woman’s body. We created a manufacturing process that does not allow Nitrosamine to occur in the latex.

We also realized quickly that we can’t do everything on our own. Ten percent of our profits go to women’s reproductive health organizations, only in the US. There’s a lot of contraception that is donated overseas and that’s great but there are 20 million women who don’t have access to it here and that’s something people don’t like to talk about.”

C to C: What was the initial inspiration for Sustain?

MH: “The initial inspiration actually came about 20 years ago and I actually wasn’t the one inspired, I was seven at the time. Back then, the AIDS crisis was very top of mind and also at the same time there was a lot of deforestation happening in Brazil. Companies started making products that would help the rain forests in preservere. Jeffery Hollender, my father and co-founder of Sustain, at the time did not pursue it but when he left Seventh Generation he thought about what he was going to do next and started revisiting the idea.”

C to C: So, why condoms?

MH: “We wanted to create something that was a net positive. When you think about a lot of green products they are really just ‘less bad.’ They’re not really essential products. Condoms we felt are a critical product.

Condoms are critical. We need them to prevent STDs, HIV, control families… and ultimately when you think about climate change, overpopulation is a big driver of that.”

So, what can YOU do? First, you can make your own sex life safer by shifting to non-Nitrosamine alternatives like Sustain. But, we also need to get the word about this under-the-radar toxin.


We have partnered with Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Sustain to make an awareness raising petition to the FDA via Take Part.

You can find the petition HERE. Please sign, share and have #SaferSex!

Change the World. Please, and Thank You!                – Jenna xx

This entry was published on November 18, 2014 at 11:08 pm and is filed under Wear. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Consciousness, Carcinogens… and Condoms.

  1. Reblogged this on Angelika's Blog and commented:
    Carcinogens in your unmentionables 😉

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