'Vegan' condoms, anyone?

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2019 06:35 AM | Updated as of Aug 31 2019 09:08 AM

Vegan condoms are sold for P100 per piece, three times more than the price of its synthetic counterpart. July 17, 2019. Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - After stainless straws generated buzz among consumers, environmental entrepreneurs have introduced the concept of sustainability to intimate products--including contraceptives--to urge more Filipinos to reduce plastic consumption in the Philippines, the world's third largest generator of non-biodegradable waste.

"Vegan" condoms are good for the environment because it is made from natural rubber which decomposes over time, said Pocholo Espina, owner of Loop. store that sells the sustainable condoms.

"One thing people don't realize is, how a product is made affects its environmental footprint," he told ABS-CBN News.

"If you derive something out of oil, then it is significantly less sustainable, but if you derive it from its natural form or plant, it's good," he said.

Vegan condoms are also better for women's reproductive health as these do not contain nitrosamine, a chemical preservative used to prolong the shelf life of several goods, Espina said.

But eco-friendly contraceptives have not caught on in the Philippines as each piece costs P100, three times more expensive than its synthetic counterpart, he said.

"The condom barely sells [because of] price point, definitely," he said.

"Distribution is a bit difficult pa because we only import it in small amounts so the margins are relatively lower," he said.

REUSABLE PADS AND CUPS

Reusable sanitary pads come in colorful designs and are sold at around P100 each. July 9, 2019. Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Reusable sanitary napkins and pantyliners are the more sellable items in Loop.'s line of eco-friendly intimate products, the 23-year-old entrepreneur said.

The store sells about 50 reusable pads a month as customers usually buy them in bulk, Espina said.

"It's an investment but it becomes cheaper in the long run," Espina said.

"They are relatively affordable if you put them against commercial pantyliners because the only time na you probably won't use it is kapag mapunit, but the odds of those things are very low naman," he said.

Using washable pantyliners would save each girl about 2 packs of plastic pads, said 29-year-old Pamela Magbitang who has been using sustainable pantyliners for nearly 6 months.

"Menstrual pads are of materials that can't ever be recycled so it's forever hazardous," said Magbitang, who has been practicing a plastic-free lifestyle since 2017.

Menstrual cups are also an option for women who do not have enough time to wash blood off their pads, she said.

Menstrual cups are silicone cups that collect menstruation instead of absorbing it.

"I prefer using menstrual cups instead of washable napkins because it's easier to manage," she said.

"I just have 1 cup and it works fine. You only have to sterilize before and after your period so washes in between, mabilis lang yun (that's fast)," she said.

"No drying, no need for multiple pads and you won't have to put a lot of effort in washing it," she said.

But Espina said menstrual cups are harder to sell.

"It's something that is very different and very foreign so not all are comfortable with it," he said.