Meika Hollender cares about what you're putting in your vagina, and has founded an entire company on the basis that you should care too. We first met Meika at the 2018 Wellspring Event in Palm Springs, and let's just say it was love at first sight. Her passion for transparent, safe and sustainable sexual health extends beyond providing quality products and into education. She's a published author (see: Get On Top Of Your Pleasure, Sexuality & Wellness: A Vagina Revolution) and promotes safe, sustainable sex education.
What is Sustain Natural?
Sustain is a brand of all natural, vagina-friendly essentials. We make everything from organic cotton tampons and pads, to Fair Trade, nitrosamine-free condoms. Our mission is to help women rethink what's going inside their vaginas, by providing the education, inspiration, and products to get on top of their sexual health.
What was your inspiration for founding Sustain Natural?
I'm a child of the natural products movement, my family started a company called Seventh Generation, so the apple didn't fall too far from the tree here. As I got older I started thinking about how women in particular were becoming more aware of the ingredients in their skincare, their household cleaning products, and their food, but when it came to the stuff going inside their bodies, they had no idea what what was in these products.Then I learned that...
- The FDA doesn't require tampon (or condom) brands to disclose their ingredients
- Only 21% of sexually active single women use condoms regularly (wtf!)
- 46% of pregnancies are unplanned
- And 70% of women who do buy condoms feel ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable doing so
What the most important thing people should know about sexual health products?
That you should treat your vagina better than your face. If you're avoiding things like parabens or glycerin in your skincare, you should absolutely avoid them in your lubricant!
What is the relationship between the planet and the condom/tampon industry?
Tampons are typically made with a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients, one ingredient being regular cotton. If you know anything about the cotton industry, you probably know that cotton is one of if not the dirtiest crop, because cotton is treated with a pesticide call glyphosate which is a known carcinogen. Now, glyphosate not only has no place being on anything going inside your body, but it also can cause great harm to the workers coming in contact with it as well as the planet. Sustain uses only one ingredient in our tampons, and that's 100% organic cotton (ie. no pesticides, ever).
Condoms have a complex but important as well when it comes to sustainability. Latex is actually the sap of the rubber tree (just like maple syrup is the sap of the maple tree). So, when we were starting Sustain we traveled all over the world looking at rubber plantations to harvest the latex for our condoms. What we saw from plantation to plantation was child labor, harmful pesticides, and generally not places we were going to feel good about sourcing our ingredients from. The last plantation we looked at was the only rubber plantation in the world that makes Fair Trade latex. That means there is no child labor, all workers are paid a fair and living wage, and there are no harmful pesticides being used on the plantation.
Where and how brands source ingredients is critical in maintaining a healthy planet.
What is the biggest challenge in making sustainable products “sexy” and appealing to a wide consumer base?