February is Black History Month, and in a movement which is often dismissed as the preserve of white, middle class bloggers, there is ample reason to celebrate the diversity currently permeating the zero-waste world.
While large corporations are beginning to adapt to demand for zero-waste products, much of the most exciting innovation in the field is being driven by small, dynamic enterprises created by people who want to make a difference as much as a profit—with many BIPOC founders and business owners keen to be the change!
Here then, we present a range of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of color) entrepreneurs blazing a trail in the zero-waste sphere. They deserve your attention not only because the cards are stacked against BIPOC business owners from the start, but because supporting them is a vote for social and environmental change together.
BLK + GRN Marketplace
This one is something of a cheat as it brings dozens of brands under one roof, but BLK + GRN’s curation of black owned beauty brands is too great a boon not to share. Led by founder Kristian Henderson’s vision for a one-stop-shop for ethical and sustainable products from BIPOC communities, BLK + GRN does the leg work so you don’t have to. In an industry which for far too long focused on white skin, this range of choices created for black skin was long overdue.
Aliya Wanek Clothing
Aliya Wanek’s range of clothing feels like coming home to something comfortable and enduring. Her goal with the business was to place women of color at the heart of the brand and work with natural fibers with a view to the longevity of the clothing. She also has a keen eye on zero-waste packaging and works with small batch production, rounding out a truly holistic approach to zero-waste clothing.
Celebrating BIPOC connections to Africa, Omi Woods jewelry crafts contemporary heirlooms that are ethically and individually handcrafted with fine metals, gemstones, and conflict-free gold. The gold itself is sourced from fair trade artisanal mines that support the wellbeing of the miners themselves and aims to impact the environment as little as possible. On top of this, the silver used is a mix of recycled and pure silver.
Two Days Off
Sustainably made to order in LA, Two Days Off is a climate-neutral, independently WOC owned women’s clothing, jewelry & accessories brand. Designed for longevity, the thoughtfully crafted clothing is an antidote to fast fashion brands that are notoriously damaging to the environment. This is achieved by using natural fibers, often from locally sourced deadstock, and by shipping everything plastic free.
Breed Love Beauty Co
Natural, minimalist skin and hair care is the philosophy behind Breed Love Beauty Co. with handmade and affordable luxury products using natural and organic butters, herbs, oils, clays, minerals, and extracts. The brand also offers a CBD skincare range to top off the range and everything is shipped with minimal packaging to help reduce its environmental impact.
What started as a bedroom business in Brooklyn selling a Turmeric Latte Blend soon grew into celebrated wellness brand selling superfoods for self-care. Today, GOLDE creates and curates health and beauty products for every body, including matcha, latte blends, and superfood face masks. 100% natural and vegan-friendly, everything is certified organic where possible and shipped in reusable containers.
Zero Shop Co
Boasting sustainable delivery in under 2 hours in LA, San Francisco, and East Bay, Zero Shop Co has all the zero-waste groceries you could need for a healthy, low impact lifestyle. Working directly with vendors to reduce plastic waste, founder Zuleyka Strasner and her team aim to make sustainable shopping a possibility for everyone, while also providing jobs to formerly incarcerated people or have past criminal records.
Beginning life as a design blog in Justina Blakeney’s tiny, plant-filled living room back in 2009, Jungalow is now a sustainable lifestyle brand that offers a huge range of home décor products, wall paper, planters, Art, and much more. Celebrating the connection between humans and the natural world, each product that you buy is equal to the planting of two trees, with natural, recycled, recyclable, and compostable materials and packaging used wherever possible.
Black Owned Market
BOM started as a pop-up market to gather Black-Owned brands in New York and has since grown into a shopping destination for people to interact and shop with Black business owners. Featuring a huge range of different products, many focusing on zero-waste and sustainable operation, this is the place to go whenever you want to support BIPOC brands through the purchase skincare, beauty, home goods, and household cleaning products.
Baxter Wood is the contemporary footwear and raincoat brand from Kewku Larbi and Sarah Smith taking big strides toward the circular economy. The raincoats are made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles and the hip Chelsea boots are made from Hevea tree rubber, (avoiding petroleum-based rubber which means the product is non-toxic and biodegradable). But make no mistake, the boots need never be thrown out. One of the greatest ways companies can take responsibility for the waste is to consider extended producer responsibility. Baxter Wood does this admirably by offering to recycle old rubber boots at the own expense, throwing in a 30% discount on a new pair as a reward.
Oui The People
Oui The People has been making waves in the sustainable skin care world ever since it introduced the iconic, stainless steel razor blade just for women in 2015. More than a push back against the plethora of bathroom waste that makes its way into landfill, the razor is a sleek and functional piece designed to last a lifetime. After a long look at the beauty industry from the inside, Oui’s founder Karen young decided to be the change she wanted to see.
Commitment to sustainability goes deep at skincare company Acarre. Using ethically sourced, natural materials like Baobab oil, Rosehip fruit oil, and Kalahari melon seed oil, Acarre has drawn on the traditional skincare techniques of African and Pacific Islanders to create products that focus on maintaining your skin’s microbiome over any quick fixes. Founder and CEO, Tracey Kearse, is also Chief Chemist so the passion behind the brand is obvious. Acarre has taken steps to go carbon neutral too, planting mangrove trees to offset every ounce of carbon emitted.
Pur Home Detergent
The unnecessary waste streams from everyday household cleaning products are some of the most galling we create. Add to this the harmful chemicals that make the way into waterways from traditional detergents and liquid cleaning solutions. Pur Home tackles many of these concerns head on with the natural alternatives to traditional household cleaners. Chief among these is the all-in-one cleaning concentrate which works on clothing, dishes, surfaces and pretty much anything you can think of. Founded by Angela Richardson and Michelle Richardson, Pur Home products are all made sustainably with ingredients that are plant-based, biodegradable, sulfate-free, ethically sourced, and non-toxic.
A conscious accessories brand, Hathorway uses reclaimed buffalo horns to make a unique line of jewelry among other unique products. Owner and founder Jessica Phan uses a 400-year-old technique drawn from her Vietnamese heritage to craft the buffalo horn pieces. The horns themselves are drawn from a waste stream coming out of the food industry in Vietnam. Beyond ethical sourcing, 10% of the company’s profits are donated to empowering women through education and beyond.
Aya Paper Co.
Though paper is relatively easy to recycle, it’s also easy to forget that living trees must be felled to produce it in the first place. Aya Paper Co. was founded by SaVonne Anderson in the knowledge that issues like climate change disproportionately impact communities of color. That’s why, instead of adding harvesting of virgin raw materials, the stylish stationery products are made from 100% recycled paper. The product packaging also reflects the company’s zero-waste ethos and is either curbside recyclable, biodegradable or compostable.
Arrow + Phoenix Swim
Arrow + Phoenix is the sustainable swimsuit brand from self-confessed beach bum Kayla Bell. A+P’s super soft swimsuits are made from recycled plastic water bottles and recycled yarn, using up to 75% less energy than a standard swimsuit would, and they are manufactured in the aptly named Paradise, Nevada. Plus, the brand wants to keep your old swimsuits out of landfill so badly there’s generous 30% off your next order if you send them your old bikini. Additionally, the brand also donates $5 from every purchase to The Coral Restoration Foundation to do the bit for the ocean.
REEL Toilet Paper
What better way to round off the list with a product every single one of us can get behind? Put simply, Reel is the company behind tree-free toilet paper. We need our forests to soak up the carbon we emit into the atmosphere, and yet we are cutting them down at an unsustainable rate. Stopping deforestation one bathroom break at a time is the goal of Reel founders Derin Oyekan and Livio Bisterzo. This is where the bamboo comes in. Reel’s 100% bamboo toilet paper is completely sustainable and much softer that it sounds. What’s more, the product is shipped in eco-friendly, plastic-free packaging.
This is a snapshot of the inspiring zero waste BIPOC brands out there finding beautiful and innovative ways to tackle everyday waste. These founders are taking responsibility for the change they want to see in the communities and in the world. You can find more resources and helpful information on how to reduce waste yourself on our blog. Or check out the zero-waste online shop for a range of zero waste products.