6. Tell me about 10% 4 Women.
Just like I did at Seventh Generation when we donate to environmental causes, at Sustain we want to give back to the community by giving 10% of profits specifically to fund reproductive healthcare in the U.S. Although there are lots of organizations that give money outside the U.S., we feel we have such a pressing need in this country (there are 20 million women who lack access to reproductive health care services!) to make accessible healthcare to women available here. We want to take care of women at home before we focus overseas.
3. Why do you focus on women?
The condom industry historically markets exclusively to men and that has left women out of the equation. Working with my daughter Meika and my wife Sheila, we saw an incredible need and opportunity to insure that women were purchasing and using condoms—and, also importantly, a way to help women feel good, positive and empowered about buying condoms. By marketing to women, we hope to create a world where women are both empowered by and understand the importance of buying and carrying condoms. Even though women purchase 40% of all condoms and influence 70% of purchases, only 19% of single sexually active women use condoms regularly and a large part of this is due to the stigma of buying and carrying condoms.
1. How do you go from cleaning products to condoms?
I actually trademarked the name Rainforest Rubbers 20 years ago. I was fascinated with idea of getting into the condom business using natural rubber trees that grew in the Amazon basin and employing the indigenous rubber tappers from that region. This was at a time when lots of companies were trying to use the rainforest as an economic resource without cutting the trees down. So, for example, Ben & Jerry’s was harvesting brazil nuts for ice cream, The Body Shop was making cream and shampoos from the same. My idea was that by creating a sustainable condom, you could harvest naturally harvest the latex sap without harming the wild rubber trees. Condoms were a way to preserve the rainforest, help address the AIDS crisis and create jobs for the indigenous people who lived in the rainforest.