A new condom company, Love Begins with L., epitomizes the heart and soul of ecosexuality. Founded by independent photojournalist, Talia Frenkel – whose work with the Red Cross exposed her to the plight of women in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East – the message behind the product is simple. Provide the most environmentally friendly condoms available, market them to women in western countries, and provide free supplies to women in disenfranchised communities across the developing world to advance female reproductive health and sovereignty.
“Sex is universal, but protection is not.”
In Africa, the scope of the HIV/AIDS problem is unimaginable: 5000 new transmissions a day, and 4000 deaths a day, mean that an estimated 25,000,000 millions deaths due to this disease could have been prevented with better reproductive health care. ‘Love begins with L.’ seeks to empower the millions of young women in Africa by providing free prophylactics and sex education. There are now an estimated 14.4 million AIDS orphans living in Sub Saharan Africa.
During the course of her work in Africa, Frenkel discovered that condoms were often unavailable. According to the U.S. office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, nine out of 10 African countries goes without condom supplies for more than two months. The condoms that were available were mostly treated with chemicals harmful to women. Frenkel determined to work with non-profits including Direct Relief health in Africa, and manufacturers to create an enterprise that could distribute natural condoms to a paying western market while ensuring availability in HIV/AIDS struck Africa, focusing primarily on the female consumer.
“Today, 75% of Africans aged 15-24 are girls. L. is a movement dedicated to supporting women globally by focusing on their sexual empowerment. That’s why we’re not just dropping off condoms and hoping for the best. Our movement involves education and distribution programs, peer-to-peer outreach and integral partnerships with grassroots women leaders.”
“Safe sex doesn’t stop at preventing HIV transmission, it’s the beginning of a greater quality of life,” the company insists.
Ecosexuality and Sustainability
Sustainability and responsibility are at the heart of Love Begins with L. The condoms are skin-sensitive and female-friendly, made with a glycerin-free and paraben-free lubricant that is designed to emulate the body’s own natural lubrication. Glycerin from non-vegetable sources can lead to common problems such as yeast infections. Paraben is linked to a whole host of health problems as well. Every triple tested condom is made from sustainably tapped premium natural latex from Malaysia, and are vegan-friendly and low in latex odor. Even the minimalistic packaging is designed to be green and reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing.
“We take measure to be as sustainable as possible, but beyond that, we strive to become restorative and enriching.”
Frenkel explains how her “camera quickly became my passport to places that I might otherwise have never had cause to visit,” including the Middle East where she documented tsunamis, earthquakes, fires and floods for the Red Cross. She became keenly aware of the destruction of HIV/AIDS to women and girls while working in Africa. “My assignments documenting the effects of this epidemic left me with an anger that I needed to channel in a productive way. Everyday, countless lives were lost for lack of something that I could buy in any western convenience store.”
Since then, she has dedicated herself to making L., believing that safe sex is a human right, and that condoms marketed specifically to women in Western countries to help take a stand to protect and empower female sexuality.
L. launched in February, and the condoms are available now on the website.
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