Ethical Condoms?

Obviously we all know that using a condom is one of the most effective forms of contraception and preventions of STIs out there, if used correctly (or maybe you didn’t, now you do, congratulations you’ve learnt something new today!). However, here at _The Boar _we’ve been reliably informed that there is something else to feel worried about when ‘wrapping up’ this winter: How ethical are your condoms?

Now, I’m not talking about the ethics of what or whom you are using them for, that’s your own business (and who am I to judge?); what I’m talking about is the ethical manufacturing and where the condoms that you use get their rubber from. Here is where Fair Squared comes in: they produce the world’s first ever fairly traded condoms. It is difficult to realise that the way condoms are manufactured is problematic for the environment and for the people making them in the first place: that fact is that people rarely think about what their every day (or less frequently used, again, no judgement) products are made from or who makes them.

The way Fair Squared work is they make sure a fair price is paid to rubber plantation workers in India, plus a fair trade premium, which goes into a fund jointly administered by the management and the workers for projects to improve living and working conditions. The condoms themselves are produced by a carbon neutral manufacturer based in Germany. Furthermore, Fair Squared condoms are guaranteed and certified with a CE mark and tested to the highest possible standards, so they are every bit as safe as other brands.

They are even better for the actual trees that produce rubber: rubber trees are tapped (groves are cut into their bark and the latex, a kind of sap, is allowed to drip into collection bowls) every day and if tapped responsibly (just a few times a day) the trees can continue to live healthily, and to be farmed, for 25 years or more – meaning less land has to be cleared to plant plantations. But high intensity rubber plantations that other brands might use work in a different manner, tapping the trees up to seven times a day – cutting the trees’ lifespans dramatically and meaning plantations last only a few years before another one has to be created. Tapping trees less while you tap more, what’s not to love?

However this extra expense is not passed on to consumers, oddly enough. They manage to retail at £2.59 for a three pack and £7.49 for a ten pack, which is about the exact same cost as the equivalent pack of, say, leading brand Durex. Plus they have the same varieties as other leading brands, such as extra thin, extra safe, ribbed , studded and even ‘glow in the dark’, there is a huge range of condoms available, so it is actually surprising that it has taken until now for the first fair trade condoms to hit UK shelves.

They even thought about comfort, gentlemen. Fair Squared suggests fitting condoms in such a way “because we’re all built differently”, and have also been created to enhance sustained performance, with an integrated potency ring built into the design, giving TheyFit a run for their money, perhaps?

Warwick Fair Trade society member James Evans remarks that “at the moment Warwick Fair Trade is simply a collection of individuals interested in promoting Fair Trade on campus as opposed to an official society”, however he also stated that “Any venture that promotes both safe sex and business ethics is a good one in my eyes! Although this product hasn’t itself secured the ‘Fairtrade’ mark, its launch is certainly a move in the right direction. They seem pretty affordable too!”

At this point Fair Squared seem to be like that person in your 9.30am seminar who has a variety of working pens and highlighters, as well as actually contributing thoughtful insights to the class; the project seems to have been impressively well thought out, the only downside is that they are only available from Waitrose, NUS stores (who knew NUS even HAD high street shops?) and independent health retailers, so you have to be quite determined to find them. Or the sort of student who shops in Waitrose.

In short, when getting hot in the cold months to come, by using Fair Squared condoms you’re building houses, keeping trees healthy, and keeping things fairly traded and carbon neutral: chicks dig carbon neutral stuff.


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