Major UK Supermarket Introduces Fair Trade Condoms

Waitrose supermarket announced in late February that it plans to stock a new brand of condoms made from ethically sourced rubber latex.  The condoms, produced by the ethical product company FairSquared, will be available at Waitrose stores in the UK on April 4, 2011.

FairSquared condoms are made from fair trade rubber, sourced from south Indian farms that use sustainable farming practices and provide fair working conditions.  They are produced in Germany by a carbon-neutral manufacturing company and are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which monitors the environmental impact and worker's conditions at rubber plantations.

Out of 228 Waitrose supermarket branches in the UK, Waitrose intends to stock FairSquared condoms at 159 branches.  A 12-pack of ethical condoms will be sold for £6.99, placing FairSquared condoms in the same price range as better-known brands such as Trojan or Durex that do not use ethically sourced rubber latex.

Fair trade rubber certainly has uses beyond the production of ethical condoms.  The rubber industry produces more than 20 million tons of rubber annually, most of which comes from Asian countries such as India, Thailand and Indonesia.  Though fair trade rubber is a small portion of the overall rubber industry, fair trade rubber is also being used to produce gloves, athletic shoes and yoga mats.  As the fair trade movement grows, with the help of corporations such as Waitrose, consumers may find more products made from ethically sourced rubber.

Waitrose prides itself on having a reputation for sustainable practices and corporate social responsibility.  Back in 1983, the London-based supermarket, currently the sixth largest supermarket chain in the UK, became the first UK supermarket to sell organic food.  In 2005, Waitrose started the Waitrose Foundation to provide educational opportunities and health services for South African fruit workers.

Fair trade condoms have been available for several years, but until now have been available only online or in the occasional store.  Waitrose's choice to stock FairSquared ethical condoms will make fair trade rubber condoms more readily available to eco-conscious UK consumers and introduce them to other consumers who did not know they had a fair trade choice.

Photo Credit:  markhillary