vegan condoms, fair trade, environment and the unethical rubber industry
(scroll down for a list of vegan condoms)
How our mainstream condoms hurt animals, the environment, the workers and us, the consumers. When we talk about going vegan, we talk about cutting out all sorts of stuff. But never before have I heard someone mention how harmful the rubber industry is to animals and that in fact, the condoms we use are not vegan at all.
99% of the world’s natural rubber is made from the latex that comes from rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) by using a process called rubber tapping: Making a large cut into the tree’s bark, the latex drips out and is collected into a cup or coconut shell. Later on, the Latex is reacted with acids to make it formable (Yes, acids are used to make our condoms, it’s a weird thought) It takes several years for rubber trees to mature and about 2 days and nights to fill a cup with the latex that drips out of the tree. Every 3 days, another section of the tree is tapped. The problem is, that once the whole length of the tree is worked over and all the bark was taken from the tree, it needs a 7-year break before it’s able to be tapped again. This can be repeated 3 times only.
That means rubber trees need a long time to mature AND a long time to provide the workers with the latex needed to match the crazy demand from all around the world. On top of that, once the tree is used up, it takes an even longer time to recover. In conclusion, new plantations with new trees are needed all the time.
Since rubber needs a hot and moist climate to grow best, most of it is grown in developing countries such as Africa, South America and Asia, the world’s leading exporter, with almost 4 million tons of rubber a year. Wow. Pretty much for a tree that needs 48 hours to partly fill a cup, right?
It is no surprise that this is only possible due to crazy amounts of deforestation. In fact, the Government of Vietnam has identified the conversion of rain forests to rubber plantations one of the primary drivers of deforestation. The rainforests are a magical place. There are 11, 217 species of animals living in Vietnam, and many more yet to be discovered. These animals are dying due to fires, smoke, destruction of their homes and access to food, so that rubber plants can be grown, literally on their graves.
Are condoms vegan?
Well, no. Not only is the production of them, as you now know, more than cruel on animals, but most condoms contain casein, (from Latin caseus, “cheese”) which is a product made from curdled milk, to smooth the condoms. Gross right? Therefore, Condoms are not less vegan than a muffin I would not eat, because it has milk in it.
Most of the time, there’s also Glycerin in their lube, Spermicide and dangerous chemicals that can cause rashes, yeast infections and urinary tract infections for all parties involved. Ew to say the least. Also, in the process of making rubber sheets, workers have to clip out contaminants like insects and other small animals that have become embedded in the rubber and in many cases, they can’t get it all. But it gets even worse: There have even been cases when farmers would put dead monkeys and anything with weight into a block of latex in order to be able to sell it for a higher price. ( check the facts here)
Needless to say that most condoms sold to us are far from being vegan, fair-trade or cruelty-free.
Isn’t it super creepy to think that animals were harmed for our lovemaking? But as you can probably imagine by now, animals are not the only ones being harmed in this process:
A new study revealed the harsh reality of the rubber farming industry: serious violations of working rights, numerous cases of inadequate safety standards, inappropriate use of toxic chemicals, discrimination, structurally long working hours, child labor, the list goes on and on. (more info here )
Who do condoms hurt?
Not to sound dramatic, but to sum it up, everyone.
- It hurts the workers that work under terrible circumstances
- the environment because of the deforestation and therefore it’s contribution to climate change
- it hurts the animals that live in the forest and are burned down with it
- it hurts even more animals, that suffer so that casein can be taken from their milk (and their babies that have to be separated from them in order to do so)
- And it hurts us, the people having sex, that are exposed to chemicals on their most vulnerable parts.
After all, condoms are supposed to be all about safety and making love, not “making hurt”.
I feel like this information really needs to be spread more. Looking at a box of condoms, the last thing that came to my mind was the struggles the people producing this product for us had to go through and how cruel it was on animals. But now that I know, it is my responsibility to stop contributing to it.
Below, I have listed (what I found) the best companies that sell vegan, fair trade and cruelty-free condoms. Most of them are about the same price range as the mainstream ones, some are even cheaper.
L Condoms was founded by Talia Frenkal after seeing the impact HIV/AIDS had on people in developing countries. Her fair trade and eco-friendly condoms are good for earthlings as well as the world itself. The certified company not only donates a condom to developing countries for every one they sell but also hires its at-risk women to distribute their product.
Unique Condoms are perfect for vegans looking for an alternative to Latex! They are made from a synthetic polyethylene resin called At-10, which is 3 times stronger and three times thinner than Latex and has therefore become more and more popular around the world receiving amazing online reviews.
Glyde offers certified, fair-trade, ethical, vegan condoms! Yay! There are no parabens, glycerin or any kind of harmful chemicals in them, and they are made in worker owned factories without animal testing. Glyde also makes organic flavored condoms (they even have exotic flavors like licorice and wild berry) as well as unflavored condoms. Since they made their first ethical condoms over 20 years ago, they have donated millions of condoms to those in need and contributed to numerous health initiatives.
Sustain is a father-daughter founded company that promises to take care of ethics while you take care of other things (wink wink). This certified company makes fair trade, non-gmo, vegan condoms and donates 10% of their income to women’s health
SIR RICHARD’S COMPANY CONDOMS
When Founder Mathew Gerson learned that condoms are not available in many areas of the developing world, he came up with his amazing company idea: For each vegan condom bought, one is donated to a community in need. Also, they are free of harmful ingredients: no parabenes, glycerine or nonoxynol-9. You can buy these at Whole Foods, Kroger Stores, CVS or Online:
This renegade brand has an edgy looking design that keeps its vegan condoms moving off the shelves of Walmart, Walgreens, Kmart and Whole Foods. They give 20% back to the arts, health, wellness and customer nominated charities.
And here’s for my European readers Fair Squared condoms are fair trade, organic and cruelty-free with a focus on simplicity. They use latex from only FSC certified farms and are winning attention for their strong focus on ethics.
Get Fair Squared condoms here
Get Fair Squared condoms here
FRENCH LETTER CONDOMS
French Letter Condoms uses vegan materials by fair trade farms only, opening the door for the Fair Trade movement from your kittchen to your bedroom. They call it Fair Play