Our world is in peril.
With the reality of climate change looming before us, did you know that consumers are beginning to make more environmentally conscious decisions?
Buying from an eco-friendly helps them feel better knowing that they are doing something for the environment, and also grants them some social currency.
So how are businesses keeping up with this new emerald shift?
To inspire you, here are 10 ecommerce startups that are fighting to bring pollution down to zero:
Using sustainable/recycled materials
1. Panda Sunglasses – sustainable materials; “one-for-one” donation to charity
Panda Sunglasses is “on a journey to change the environmental and social impact of sunglasses”.
Made with sustainable bamboo, Panda Sunglasses have also paired up with non-profit Optometry Giving Sight to give the gift of vision to someone in need.
Inspired by TOMS, every one of their sunglasses sold provides prescription glasses and medical treatment for one person.
2. 31 Bits – Recycled materials, empower individuals to rise above poverty
31 Bits uses beads made from recycled paper salvaged from unused posters, advertisements and old textbooks. 99% of the materials used come from Eastern Africa, in support of the local markets there.
In addition to that, 31 Bits have a model that helps people in Uganda start a living. In their 5-year program, they are given education, a job, as well as the skills to manage their own business when they graduate.
3. Ecomom – Recycled, reusable, biodegradable, non-toxic, etc.
Ecomom acts as a marketplace that sells products for babies and children. They have a strict curation process to ensure the products they sell do not contain chemical or materials harmful for kids.
In addition, everything they sell meets at least one of their eco-traits criteria:
4. Nau – Sustainable & recycled materials
Nau (pronounced “now”) believes in making sustainable apparel that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Made from sustainable materials, 2% of every sale goes to their humanitarian and environmental Partners for Change.
Nau is a stickler for sustainability, and makes sure that all the materials used leave as little environmental impact as possible. For example, they opt for using recycled polyester instead of nylon, as the latter cannot be recycled.
5. Indosole – recycled, animal-free materials
Indosole is based in Indonesia, where tons of motorcycle tires are disposed off everyday. They wash, treat and cut these tires to form the soles of Indosole’s slippers and sandals. These processes do not involve any form of melting or toxic-inducing treatments.
Their goal is to save 1 million tires from landfills. Currently, their tire ticker on their website shows that they’ve recycled over 200,000 tires!
6. Proof Eyewear – Sustainable materials, donates to various charities (project-based)
Proof makes stylish wooden sunglasses from sustainable forests, skateboards and cotton-based acetate. Striving to be one of the most eco-friendly brands in the world, Proof is proud to be have products sold in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Apart from helping the environment, Proof also gives back by donating to various charities based on a project basis. For example, they helped build two eye clinics in India, where more than 1/4 of the world’s blind people live.
7. WeWOOD – Sustainable materials, 1 tree planted for every watch sold
WeWOOD makes some of the coolest watches around. With sustainable wood on the outside, and the popular Miyota watch movement, WeWOOD presents “a hybrid of technology and nature that’s both handsome and earth friendly”.
WeWOOD also partners with non-profits like American Forests and Trees for the Future for their reforestation efforts. Since 2011, WeWOOD has helped to plant over 300,000 trees around the world!
By the looks of it, their goal to plant 1 million trees by 2020 seems very achievable!
Creating reusable products
8. RuMe – Reusable bags, collaborates with non-profits
At RuMe (short for ReUseMe), they focus on eliminating single-use bags by providing heavy-duty reusable bags that can take on any situation, from grocery shopping to the gym.
In addition to their bags, RuMe also has a program called Rume Gives Back, which partners with other non-profits to raise funds and awareness. By allowing custom designs, RuMe gives back allows various non-profits to design their own bags for their fund-raisers.
Donating to environmental causes
9. Blu Kicks – Donate $1 for every pair sold
Inspired by the Reef triggerfish (also known as the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a) in Hawaii, Blu Kicks was founded to protect the habitat they live in.
Interestingly enough, some of their shoes are designed after the likeness of the fishes! Blu Kicks donate $1 for every pair of footwear sold to 3 non-profit organizations: Bonefish and Tarpoon Trust, WildAid, and For the Fishes.
10. United By Blue (UBB) – 1 pound of trash removed for every item sold
United By Blue started in 2010, with the intent of associating product sales with concrete environmental action. For every item sold, UBB removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and waterways during their conducted cleanups.
Accordingly, 1 pound of trash equals to 14 plastic bottle, 30 cans or 2560 cigarette butts. So far, UBB have conducted over 100 cleanups and removed more than 170,000 pounds of trash from creeks, streams , rivers and beaches nationwide.
Honorable mention #1: Ekocycle – Recycled plastic bottles
Ekocycle is a collaboration between Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am and Coca Cola. They collect used soda bottles, and recycle them into various products.
Although they aren’t an ecommerce startup, they definitely deserve a mention for the work they’re doing.
Perhaps their most amazing products are their suits; each made with more than 20 bottles!
Honorable mention #2: tentree – 10 trees for every item sold
At tentree, they sell apparel and accessories manufactured by WRAP-approved factories. These factories are certified socially and environmentally responsible. In addition, tentree minimizes the pollution caused by shipping through sourcing their products from local regions.
tentree also collaborates with various non-profits to plant trees in harsher climates all over the world. They focus on places in Madagascar and Ethiopia, where large portions of forests have been destroyed, leaving the surrounding land vulnerable to floods and other disasters.
According to them, they often plant more than 10 trees per product to guarantee than at least 10 trees survive for every item. Communities around those areas are also taught sustainable practices, to prevent such deforestations from happening in future.
Go green not because it’s profitable, but because it’s right.
Perhaps due to the increasing support that consumers give to environmentally-conscious companies, they have shown to be more profitable than others. This has led to some falsely advertising their brands as green, a phenomenon known as “greenwashing“.
Go green because you want to protect all forms of life and to ensure that your future generations have a clean world to live in. Not because it’s more profitable.
So rethink your business model: Can your product utilize sustainable or recycled materials? Can they be bio-degradable? How about modifying your business strategy so that part of your proceeds go into a cause that you feel is important?
We may not have a Captain Planet (yet), but that shouldn’t stop us from becoming our very own planeteers!