Photojournalist Takes A Look At The Big Picture And Decides To Change The World, One Condom At A Time.
L. was founded by Talia Frenkel, a photojournalist whose coverage of the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and girls inspired her into action.
above: Talia in Uganda
Talia Frenkel didn’t start out in the safe sex business. “I had worked extensively as a photographer for the Red Cross and documented humanitarian crisis around the world,” she says.
above: one of Talia's provocative images of the ravages of AIDS on women.
Taking photos of people suffering, especially women and girls, she was ”struck by the preventative nature of the AIDS epidemic.” Upon returning to Los Angeles, she found herself at a crossroads. After all the suffering she had witnessed, her challenge was to channel the frustration of those experiences ”in a productive way.”
After talking to friends and family about the lack of access to condoms abroad, and seeing the potential in the high-quality market at home, Frenkel started L., a premium condom company that operates on a one-for-one model. For every condom they sell in America, they donate one to the developing world. “It’s important to note that we didn’t just re-package an existing condom on the US market,” she says “we re-engineered a new condom for the modern consumer.” But while the premium latex, and sustainable packaging of L. condoms are sure to deliver piece of mind (amongst other things) they’re delivered to sub-saharan Africa through female entrepreneurs, and student education programs.
But L. doesn’t stop there – the company focuses on supporting women leaders as catalysts for change and development. At its core, L. is setting out to create a superior product that rests on three pillars: Sex, Cause and World.
above: photo by Talia Frenkel
L. has re-engineered the condom. From premium quality high-grade latex to formulating moisture-rich, female-friendly lubricants with out harmful additives, L. focuses on creating the most natural and pleasurable way to practice safe sex. L. condoms use purified latex so that theyare uniquely low in latex scent and are glycerin and paraben free. All condoms are individually electronically tested to exceed FDA and international standards.
Integral to L.’s inception and mission is to fight the international AIDS epidemic. In Africa, there are more deaths caused by AIDS than all the wars, famines, floods, and deadly diseases on the continent - combined. Increasingly, women and girls are the face of the epidemic as they are disproportionately affected at a young age. Condoms are the most effective technology in HIV prevention as well as a simple form of birth control that provide a greater quality of life. Still, 9 out of 10 countries in Africa go through regular condom stock outs that typically last 2 months or more. L. has set out to address this through a one for one consumer driven donation model.
One for one is only the beginning.
L. has been credited with re-inventing the model, dubbed 1 for 1 +, by focusing on building capacity of its partners and facilitating the creation of long-term distribution channels.
Currently, L. is partnered with Direct Relief International and working with female-run social enterprise programs. Similar to the recent trend in international focus on women from Nike’s Girl Effect to the Half the Sky Movement - L.’s programs focus particularly on women leaders as agents of progress.
L. takes measure to be as sustainable as possible, and beyond that, the company aims to be restorative and enriching. From sourcing raw materials local to their manufacturing facility to providing product in recycled packaging – L. strives to deliver thoughtfully-designed products that are compatible with the environment. Their condoms also only use sustainably tapped 100% natural latex and are Vegan- friendly.
above: photo by Talia Frenkel
L. draws a connection between developed and developing world women through unique marketing and the opportunity for daily actions to support women globally. “Sex is universal, but protection is not.” says founder Talia Frenkel, who started the venture out of frustration at the preventative nature of the epidemic. “A largely untapped resource in Africa, women have the unique abilities and skills to strengthen and lead the global response to AIDS.” The sleek design, product features and company mission sets the company apart as a bold option for the modern consumer. Uniquely, L. is focused on empowering a hugely under-represented market for condoms - women. “Birth control pills are a common site in a women’s purse, but condoms are not. Part of what L. is about is making condoms sexy.”
But more than just a product, L. is creating a movement by offering consumers an opportunity to create massive change through simple choices and actions within their everyday lives. If just one in 20 condom purchases were made with L., the HIV prevention needs of the three countries with the highest prevalence of AIDS could be met, averting countless new HIV transmissions and improving the quality of life for even more.
above: photo by Talia Frenkel
As part of this movement, L. is transforming consumers into advocates, giving them the opportunity to participate by hosting social events as well as wearing L. t-shirts and donning wristbands that show their support for women globally.
They re-thought condom package design - from the materials of the packaging to the shape itself - providing a sleek and sexy package that aligns with the modern consumer lifestyle. L. packages are thin and compact enough to carry with you and reseal if you desire.
L. condoms come in 100% recycled paper packaging printed with vegetable inks. The packaging reflects their passion for the aesthetic as well as their goal of minimizing materials while maximizing functionality. No cellophane or plastic is used in packaging. Directions for Use are printed on the inner walls of the box to save paper. The modern minimalist black and white design allows them to save on ink wastage and makes the end product easier to recycle. L. recycles all unused and excess rubber latex that is created in the manufacturing process. This natural rubber latex is sent to facilities that then re-use the material to make other rubber products, such as flip flops. Natural rubber latex products are eventually biodegradable.
To find out more, you can visit www.thisisL.com and find out how you can help. Whether it's by purchasing the well designed apparel or the beautifully packaged condoms or make an impact in these other ways.
Victorinox, best known for their classic Swiss Army Knives, teamed up with Abitax founder Kazuma Yamaguchi in Tokyo to design an exclusive new pocket knife available in seven colors.
The Victorinox Swiss Army Tomo, meaning friend in Japanese, introduces a slimmer case and package. This small companion combines renowned design from Japan with Swiss precision and quality.
The packaging for Tomo is also different than that of their traditional pocket knives, it is made of 100% recycled and reusable paper pulp.
A specially designed leather case for TOMO is also available:
This small companion is earth friendly, fitting perfectly with Victorinox Swiss Army’s ecological philosophy.
$24 USD. Buy them here.
The design and packaging are the work of Japanese designer Kazuma Yamaguchi. His designs are just as useful as they are aesthetically appealing and are available for purchase from design shops under the design label ABITAX. Below is a video of Yamaguchi explaining the design process.
Okay, so maybe getting drinking eco-alcohol products won't really save the planet, but it certainly won't hurt it. Given the new and growing awareness of the importance of utilizing sustainable technologies and renewable resources and packaging, several companies are coming out with "green" spirits, here are some planet-friendly Vodkas for you.
1. 360 Vodka:
They include an agreement to offset 100 percent of the company’s energy and carbon use; bottling the vodka in containers composed of 85 percent recycled glass; using 100 percent recycled paper and cardboard for labels, packaging and promotional materials; using grains grown in Kansas and Missouri to reduce the need to transport ingredients to the distillery; and donating money to environmental organizations.
There are even paper coasters for 360 that bear the brand’s logo on one side and these instructions on the other: “Join the greening of America and soak this coaster in water for a couple of hours. Place the card in a pot of soil and cover lightly. Keep moist and in a week or so you’ll have sprouts of cosmos and marigolds. Enjoy your flowers.”
Read more here.
2. Square One Organic Vodka:
(information from their site)
Upon moving to Marin County in Northern California, Square One Organic Vodka founder Allison Evanow found inspiration in the community’s embrace of the land, from protected public fields to abundant local organic farmers’ markets. And she was thrilled by how the community created by the Saturday morning farmers’ market was also a friendly platform for raising greater environmental issues. This led the spirits industry veteran to wonder, “Why not put the ethos of the farmer’s market into a glass?” Indeed why not create a luxury spirit that leaves a light footprint on the earth yet makes a big splash [so to speak] among cocktail cognoscenti?
Above: Allison Evanow with her organic vodka
Vodkas are prized for their purity, so the idea of an organic vodka was both viable and exciting… Thus Allison set out to create the greenest clear spirit yet. And she started at…square one, with the purest ingredients she could find: pristine spring water from the Teton mountains and organically certified North Dakota-grown rye.The ingredients are so pure that Square One obviates the need for multiple distillation, emerging through a single pass in the distiller with its unique flavor profile intact.
But Allison wasn’t content to focus only on what’s in the bottle – the packaging had to reflect Square One’s philosophy of eco-conscious sophistication. That’s why the distinct square bottle is not frosted [a process that calls for some serious chemicals!] and the label is now printed on paper made from bamboo, bagasse and cotton, all sustainably grown and renewable fiber sources. And once the bottle is empty the label easily peels off so the bottle can enjoy a second life as a vase or other container.
Finally, while we at Square One embrace the square, we’re also happy to come full circle: Because the rye byproduct from our vodka-making process is organic and minimally processed, it is packed with protein and fiber, thus making it ideal for sale as feed to an organic dairy farm.We did not intend to sell off our “waste” but are now thrilled to be a vital link in the cradle-to-cradle process of growing grain, feeding cattle, and creating the best martinis you’ve ever tried!
Learn more here.
3. Purus Vodka:
Even Anheuser-Busch has gotten into the green game with their Purus Vodka. The premium organic vodka retails at $35 a bottle, which is recyclable and wrapped in a “tree-free paper” label with safe soy-based inks, water-based adhesives, and an environmentally sustainable cork closure. It’s made from crystalline Alpine water, locally harvested 100% organic Italian wheat and cultivated without pesticides or commercial fertilizers at a 3rd generation family-owned distillery.
On the site you can even enter your info to plant a tree in the “Purus Forest.” While this is the first vodka brand created and marketed specifically by Anheuser Busch, their Stone Mill pale ale and Wild Hop lagers are both organic beers.
learn more (and plant a tree) here.
4. UK5 Organic Vodka:
UK5 Vodka is world's first Organic Vodka made from 100% rye. The actual organic farm in which the Rye is produced is located in Germany has been organic for over 30 years. There are many unique points when talking about UK5 Organic Vodka with the most important being we are the world's only non filtered Vodka. The result is UK5 is an extremely smooth distillate. Most people believe filtering is good for the product and the fact is they are correct. But that is due to all the impurities that exist in conventional Vodkas. As a result they must be extracted from the liquid before people can drink the product. Filtering extracts all the impurities but it also takes out all the flavors and essences of the Vodka. After all, it is impossible to take out the bad without taking out the good.
UK5 Organic Vodka uses only the worlds purest water and the world's finest organic grain which has a denser cell structure perfect for making premium vodka. Conventional vodka is made from grain sprayed on average at least 7 times with chemicals; these chemicals which are found in our water supply and food chain, are feared to cause human cancers, interfere with our hormones and our human nervous system. In 1998, UK companies used 50,000 tons of grain, grown using artificial chemicals in the production of Gin and Vodka.
Learn more here.
5. Lotus Vodka:
Developed by San Francisco-based Delicious Brands, White Lotus is a proprietary blend of the finest vodka, natural flavors and secret ingredients targeted to sophisticated, health-conscious consumers between the ages of 25 and 40. This vodka was specifically created for the on-sale market to pair with fresh fruit juices for healthier, better-tasting cocktails. White Lotus packaging is environmentally friendly: The label is printed directly on the bottle and the cases are made in part from recycled cardboard.
Now available in two flavors, white lotus or blue lotus, new flavors will be available soon.
Learn more here.
6. Rain Vodka:
Rain is handmade from scratch in small batches at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Every step in making Rain is designed for enjoying the ultimate vodka taste experience. Rain vodka is distilled exclusively from 100 percent organic white corn, creating a superior taste profile. The vodka undergoes an extensive 20-day production technique that includes cold-water sweet mash fermentation, seven distinct distillations and a polishing stage that adds pure limestone water.
Rain is made from organically grown white corn. Smells of pear drop, moss and hay in the first sniffing; aeration allows the aroma to deepen, especially the appealing earthy moss/wet soil perfume. Palate entry is feather-light; at mid-palate there’s a firm but satiny taste of sweet grain. Aftertaste is grainy. Delicious and delicate.
SUPERB (90-95)/Highly Recommended --Wine Enthusiast Magazine
learn more here.
7. VeeV Vodka:
VeeV is a high-end, high-proof liqueur make from the South American açaí berry, which contains antioxidants. An alternative to vodka in cocktails, its taste is slightly sweet with accents of dark berries, cherry, and chocolate. The spirit is available from Southern Wine & Spirits in 750 and 50 ml bottles.
For every bottle sold, VeeV donates $1 to help protect and replenish the Amazonian Rainforest through partners Rainforest Action Network and Sambazon’s Sustainable Açaí Project. This helps to offset the carbon output of VeeV’s day-to-day activities.
VeeV’s support of the Sustainable Açaí Project directly benefits the farming communities that harvest the Açaí berries, promotes organic certification, and ensures that Açaí is “wild harvested” to preserve the surrounding flora and protect biodiversity. The donation to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) protects the world’s forests by promoting the alignment of corporate and governmental policies into with conservation efforts.
VeeV Vodka has Açaí in it, one of those so-called "superfoods."learn more here.
8. Reyka Vodka
Reyka has been blogged about a lot although it's probably the least "green" of the bunch. Claiming to be the world’s first green vodka- it's made from glacial water and distilled using sustainable and clean energy from geothermal heat.
The folks over at NOTCOT did a nice encompassing feature on it. In addition to it being 'green', they have a fun feature where each day the bottle is packaged with a different foil neck wrapper depending upon the nature and icelandic surrounding of the day! learn more here.
9. Snow Leopard Vodka
gives 15% of their profits to save the beautiful Snow Leopard.
10. Death's Door Spirits are herbicide and pesticide free and sustainably grown on washington island and sourced as local as possible.
If you haven't already, be sure to read my post about high-end vodkas with stunning bottle designs, Premium Vodka Distillers, Drunk With Design.
And be sure to see the post on wild, unusual and flavored vodkas here.
In honor of the 2010 Earth Day, see part II, Ten more Organic vodkas!