Sir Richard’s Condoms: Buy One, Give One

You might have read about the Pope’s recent (slight) revision of the Catholic Church’s stance on condom-use — a stance with far greater impact in the developing world than elsewhere. In a case of near-perfect timing, Sir Richard’s Condom Company has entered the market, promising to donate one condom to the developing world for every condom sold. The company is billing itself as “the world’s first sell-one, give-one condom company.”

But Sir Richard’s advantages don’t stop there. The company, based in Boulder, Colorado, (no relation to Sir Richard Branson) has taken the sustainable route wherever possible. The packaging is 100% recyclable, the condoms themselves are vegan, and the founders are working towards earning Fair Trade and FSC certification. Even the foil wrapper is well-designed, in a distinctive plaid — in fact, you might not be embarrassed to have one fall out of your wallet.

But company founder Mathew Gerson is concerned with more than the production end of his product.

“As for the condoms, the greenest thing you can do on the consumer end is: don’t flush your condoms down the toilet,” he said. “It’s horrible for the environment, bad for lifeforms in our waters, the chemicals are horrible, and latex never biodegrades if it’s in the ocean.”

And they’re also shifting the paradigm on condom advertising, away from the hale and hearty Trojan Man (or this recent offering from Durex), toward, well, Rilke. The marketing targets women, college students and the gay community. And in keeping with their target demographic, the brand is stocked by Fred Segal, Paul Smith, Whole Foods and carried by Viceroy Hotels.

The supply of free condoms in the developing world satisfies only about 10% of demand, and those numbers shrunk even more during the Bush Administration, when most of US aid went towards abstinence programs rather than condom distribution. A greater supply could cut down on a myriad of problems plaguing those regions, from HIV infections to overpopulation.

“Unlike other condoms donated to developing countries, Sir Richard’s condoms will be printed in the primary language of the region they will be distributed and branded to ensure cultural relevancy and usage,” the company says. “Sir Richard’s will initiate the condom donations in Haiti, where healthcare providers have expressed a need for more free condoms to suppress a likely increase in new HIV infections since 2010’s natural disaster.”

Beyond condoms, the company is also partnering this month with the Urban Zen Foundation to send rape prevention kits to women in Haitian refugee camps.

Gerson has also pledged that the condoms Sir Richard’s provides to its partners for distribution will be identical to those sold in the U.S. Sir Richard’s is the picture of the new, socially-progressive business model, and to quote the company’s tag line, doing good never felt better.

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