What does it take to inspire more people to make the right decision to protect their health and our planet?
Interview with Gabrielle Lods, Founder, Green Condom Club | By Darie Nani
Gabrielle Lods, a 34 years old Swiss entrepreneur, grew up in Rolle and travelled a lot as a child. After graduating from EPFL (BSc Chemical Engineering) and ETHZ (MSc Management, Technology and Economics), Gabrielle worked in sustainability and knowledge management for both Toyota and DuPont. As she started her journey towards impact entrepreneurship, she became a digital nomad for 3 years. She is currently based in Geneva, and travels regularly looking for good winds for kite-surfing and a quiet place to practice yoga.
Her dream is to create a positive impact. As she launched Green Change Sàrl, she hoped that her venture will inspire more people to make the decisions to protect their health and the (finite) planet we live on. Her dream was to make a positive impact and when she launched Green Change Sàrl she hoped that her venture will inspire more people to make the decisions to protect their health and the (finite) planet we live on.
What does your organisation do?
Green Change is behind the brand Green Condom Club. We manufacture, sell and distribute vegan condoms without toxic chemicals. We are completely transparent on the ingredients we use (unlike the other manufacturers), do not use animal products and produce condoms which are fragrance free.
How did you come up with the idea for a vegan condom?
In the summer of 2015 I had a conversation with some friends about all the toxic chemicals contained in tampons and pads and the dramatic effect they have on women’s’ bodies. Then we stopped and wondered about men. While discussing products that could appeal to a male demographic wanting to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals, someone suggested condoms. It turns out that condoms manufacturers do not report their ingredients, potentially harming people with allergies and encouraging a lack of transparency. We were horrified, so we set out to change that! After looking at the multi-step manufacturing process, it was obvious much could be done to improve transparency and non-toxicity.
What do you think is the biggest impact a vegan condom will have?
The biggest impact I believe is that people with sensitivities or allergies to traditional condom components now have a safe alternative. Also, providing vegans and people who want to lessen their dependency to animal products with a common consumer good they can both trust and afford, while it matches their values, is equally important.
No, it is exactly the same and this was very important. A vegan condom works just like a regular condom and is just as safe, with the same industry certification (CE and ISO4074). What is different is the composition and ingredients. We are also one of the few manufacturers who are totally transparent about the ingredients we use because we believe consumers have a right to know exactly what is in the products they are buying.
Tell us more about Green Change, what else does your company do?
Our project began back in 2013 with a line of sustainable hygiene products starting with cloth diapers. Again our focus is on sustainability and reducing waste. Our cloth diapers are available under the ‘Sustain a Bum’ brand (www.sustainabum.com) and after its success we have now expanded into additional products lines, such as our vegan condom, menstrual cups and lubricants.
What has been the biggest challenge in launching your own business?
Bootstrapping is really a lot of effort. Launching an entire brand from scratch is definitely a challenge but I learnt so much in the process. Now the team is growing and it’s really rewarding but demanding to coordinate everyone’s efforts while staying lean and agile.
What are your plans for Green Change going forward?
The plan is to expand and solidify our distribution network in Western Europe (we are now in some Leclerc supermarkets in Paris as of last week!). We will relaunch our lubricant both in sachets and bottles this summer and have plans to further diversify our product range around sustainable sex.
What is your vision for the future?
My vision is a world where everyone uses sustainable products, produce no waste and consume as few resources as possible. I believe the path we are taking as a species, by destroying the ecosystem, is harming our ability to survive on the planet and we have reached a point where we can no longer ignore the problem. I choose to address this issue by selling waste reducing/organic/practical and cheaper alternatives to common products.
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