In honor of Earth Day 2021, here are 22 ethical brands that I love. As an added bonus, all of these ethical brands are owned by women. Because it’s 2021 and it’s freaking time to support the fearless female entrepreneur who is prioritizing the planet alongside profit.
This post is for women and made possible by badass women entrepreneurs.
Let’s dive in!
Natalie Harris started out blogging about being a dedicated minimalist and then launched a boutique, hand-making all of the made-to-order capsule wardrobe designs at The Tiny Closet in Los Angeles.
Fully acknowledging that being both a shop owner and minimalist can be contradictory, she operates with a set of sustainable rules that make my heart sing:
She uses only deadstock fabric (this is fabric from big clothing brands that would otherwise be discarded at the end of the season and sent to landfills), she makes everything by hand when it is ordered, and she uses or sells everything she makes – even the samples worn by models at the beginning of each season.
“No assembly lines here. And as I plan to expand, I will continue to make sure The Tiny Closet operates ethically and sustainably in virtually everything that I do, from electricity use to tools, to mindful employment and of course, the fibers, dyes, and textiles used.”– Natalie Harris, Founder, The Tiny Closet
This woman-owned, carbon-neutral brand creates small-batch designs in Los Angeles, using the deadstock fabric that would be otherwise discarded and sent to landfills by large fashion brands.
I just love that everything is shipped plastic-free in reusable, recyclable packaging.
Founder and Designer Gina Stovall is a geologist and earth scientist who makes clothes meant for comfort, longevity, and style. Many of the Two Days Off dress designs come with POCKETS!
“The devil is in the details, so we like to finish our pieces beautifully and if there is space for a hidden pocket, you know it will be there.”– Two Days Off website
It was 1987 when Kreyol Founder and CEO Joelle Fontaine and her mother, Yolette Fontaine, fled the political unrest in Haiti, immigrating to the United States and leaving behind the successful clothing boutique Yolette had built.
Despite speaking three languages fluently, Yolette faced a perception in the United States that she was uneducated due to her accent. She endured racism, classism, and sexism, but her resilience inspired a young Joelle.
Today, the mother-and-daughter team makes Haitian-inspired garments that are meant to make women feel like they are pieces of beautiful art. Kreyol is also a place where women artisans can sell their garments and accessories.
So for every piece you buy from Kreyol, you are helping a woman.
“Through fashion, my goal is to ensure that women have choices. That they are able to sustain themselves and not rely on the government or a man or anything else. But they are able to take the work of their own hands to dictate their destiny.”– Joelle Fontaine, Founder and CEO, Kreyol
Creating just one pair of jeans can take up to 1,500 gallons of water, but a pair of Warp + Weft jeans takes less than 10 gallons!
“We are all human and live on one planet- it is our responsibility to make sure that relationship is always symbiotic.”– Sarah Ahmed, CEO & Founder, Warp + Weft
Warp + Weft denim is made from scratch with cotton, Lycra, and Tencel (forest fibers!) in a factory with the highest in ecological and ethical standards. Beyond this commitment to sustainability, I also love the moderate price of these jeans (less than $100) and the fact that they are size-inclusive with all sizes available at the same price.
These shoes are the definition of minimalistic style and slow fashion. Zou Xou Founder Katherine Theobalds says she loves good, sensible shoes that make women feel good.
“My vision is for women to wear ZX shoes whenever they want to feel like the best version of themselves.”– Katherine Theobalds, CEO and Founder, Zou Xou
These beautiful shoes are handmade by expert shoemakers (you can meet the makers here) in Buenos Aries who negotiate their own wages and set their own hours in the safe setting of the ZX workshop. Made in small batches, the shoes are made to last, made with minimal waste, and made to empower both the end-user and the shoemaker.
“Everything we purchase affects another human being somewhere, and that impact should be a constructive one. This is something I am not willing to compromise on.”– Katherine Theobalds
One of the biggest challenges that I’ve had since I started shopping sustainably is underwear and lingerie that isn’t…frumpy. But I found some!
Here are a few great ethical brands for underwear sold by women-owned companies:
I fell completely in love with the woman-owned sustainable brand Knickey when I read:
“Our certified organic cotton undies are free from toxic chemicals so you and your vag can breathe easy.”– Knickey website
This really does make me breathe easier! It is hard to find clothes that are healthy for the environment and for your body and, let’s face it, there is no item of clothing that is more important to a woman’s health than her underwear.
Removing synthetic fibers from your nether region is also good for the environment for so many reasons. One of those reasons being that little plastic fragments shed from polyesters and nylons every time they are washed, slipping microfibers right into our waterways.
I fell head over heels with Knickey when I found out that they will actually recycle your undergarments! Whether they are Knickey brand or not, you can send in your old underoos and they’ll be turned into insulation, rugs pads, or rags and, most importantly, they won’t end up in landfills. (Currently available in the United States only.)
Bonus tip: Buy your Knickeys on the sustainable online marketplace EarthHero.
Did I mention these underwear are seriously affordable at $13 or 5 pairs for $60?
Your one-stop shop for sustainably made underwear and lingerie that will make you feel good – and look good too! Azura Bay itself is a woman-owned company, and most of the ethical brands curated on the site by Founder Ashley McIntosh are woman-owned as well. Win-win-win!
I also love the Azura Bay commitment to low-waste packaging right down to using sustainable ink.
“I’ve found some incredible brands that are kicking ass at changing the way fashion is produced.”– Ashley McIntosh, Founder, Azura Bay
Created by a mother who wanted a sexier, sustainable option to single-use nappies post-pregnancy, these underoos have evolved to include “period panties,” swimsuits, and a maternity line (the leak-proof, breastfeeding cami with clips is genius).
Modibodi CEO Kristy Chong says her leak-free panties have already saved billions of pads and tampons from ending up in landfills or being flushed into our oceans since the company launched in 2013.
“By making a small change, we can all have a huge impact.”– Kristy Chong, CEO, Modibodi
Made for anyone who squats when they pee, the Kula Cloth (pee pad) is seriously a game-changer for hikers, backpackers or road-trippers. Ditch toilet paper for good!
The antimicrobial pad snaps closed and easily hangs on the back of a backpack for easy access when you’ve got to go. Use it multiple times on a day hike and hand wash (or throw in a washing machine) when you’re done. This allows you to leave no trace out on the trail.
“As a former park ranger and backpacking instructor, I was frustrated to find discarded toilet paper in alpine environments. I started using a pee cloth as a zero-waste alternative and wondered if I could design one that was a legit piece of gear.”– Anastasia Allison, Founder, Kula Cloth
Speaking from firsthand experience, I can say that the Kula Cloth is a legit piece of gear. I would hate to hike without it!
Each Kula is handmade and you can choose your own design. The word “kula” means community and, once one of these babies is strapped to your backpack, you really will meet fellow kula carriers who become friends!
I just love that the women behind PAPER believe in color as a transformative power.
‘Look Good, Do Good, Feel Good’ is our personal mantra at PAPER. We are advocates for a positive and sustainable fashion industry, where style and a clear conscience can co-exist.– Philippa Thackeray and Kelly Townsend, Founders, PAPER
I also love that the stylish, colorful swimsuits made by PAPER are made from recycled fishing nets and waste found in the ocean. Fishing nets ensnare millions of marine animals every year, and PAPER is turning giving the nets – and those animals – new life by way of seriously beautiful swimwear.
Their textured swimwear is made from recycled plastic bottles that are transformed into yarn! Since 2018, PAPER is responsible for recycling the equivalent of 112,500 plastic bottles.
Many thanks to PAPER founders Philippa Thackeray and Kelly Townsend. These two are fashion heroines.
Every piece of Atom&Matter’s handmade jewelry is made with recycled materials. This is important to Founder Bethany Mota, who seeks to bring a community of like-minded women together through beautiful jewelry.
I love both the beauty of the Atom&Matter jewelry and the fact that with every purchase, a donation is made to organizations that mentor and train girls and women.
All of the jewelry is handmade in partnership with the Responsible Jewellery Council, which certifies jewelry manufacturers and responsible employers in Thailand.
This beautiful company employs women in the Detroit area who face barriers to employment. They train and pay the women to make their unique jewelry, creating both wearable art and opportunity.
Why is the jewelry unique you ask? Because much of it is made from graffiti that has broken away from walls or underpasses.
You can even search by location and buy jewelry made from repurposed graffiti from your favorite spots. As a former Chicago girl, I’m loving the jewelry made from the West Town neighborhood! So cool.
More women-owned, ethical brands for jewelry:
This just might be the future when it comes to packing your toiletries! Refillable, magnetic containers made from post-consumer plastic that is collected during beach cleanups. These plastics were what Cadence Founder Steph Hon calls “ocean-bound” because they were almost certainly going to end up swept into the water.
Instead, the discarded plastics become sustainable containers that you can label, fill with your product, and magnetically connect to one another. So you just throw your products into your backpack and they stick together. It’s the new toiletry “bag”!
Leak-proof, BPA-free, these capsules are helping Han and her team with their mission to end single-use, travel-sized containers.
When I picture myself getting on that next airplane, I always picture myself in some kind of Tea & Tequila outfit.
From their vegan cactus leather trousers and handbags (made from the nopal/cactus plant) to their flowy dresses made for city strolling, founders Mille and Sarah bring you 1970s glam in unique pieces perfect for traveling.
Mille and Sarah work with artisans in indigenous communities in Mexico to create their designs in the hopes of bringing together creators, garments and wearers. Every piece has a story.
For example, the Tea & Tequila tiendita collection includes only one-off pieces that are handmade using reclaimed fabrics. When you buy one of these garments, you’ll know exactly who made the clothing, how long it took to make, and you’ll know that there is no other person on the planet who owns a piece like it.
If you buy an Artesana Bag, you’ll know the beautiful bag was created by women in Campeche who fled Guatemala during the Civil War.
Read more: Eco-Friendly Products You Will Use Forever
I love these two sisters who set out to eliminate plastic packaging from your hair-care routine.
“Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists. Think about that.”– Lindsey & Alison Delaplaine, founders of Plaine Products
Lindsey spent 10 years living in the Bahamas where she saw the devastating consequences of discarded plastic on the beach, ocean, and roadsides. She called her entrepreneurial sister with a mission to reduce plastic in our everyday lives. And Plaine Products was born.
The Delaplaine sisters make natural hair and body products that are shipped to you through carbon-neutral subscription services. All products come in reusable aluminum containers that are shipped in boxes made with 100 percent recycled material. The boxes are reused at least five times on average before they are recycled!
Here’s how it works: You order your Plaine Products shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. When your bottle gets low, you order a refill (or subscribe for automatic refills), and you place the empty bottle back in the refill box, placing the label right over the top of the existing shipping label.
The goal of Ethique Founder Brianne West is no easy task but if anyone can do it, it’s the woman who started the solid shampoo craze from her kitchen as a university student:
“In a nutshell, my goal is to save the world from plastic waste!”Brianne West, Founder of Ethique, in a Forbes interview
When Brianne said those words to a Forbes reporter, everything changed. The Huffington Post followed up with another interview and then Britney Spears shared Ethique on Facebook and Ashton Kutcher made a video about the bars.
Ethique is no longer making shampoo and conditioner bars out of a university apartment in New Zealand. This is now an international brand that ships plastic-free hair products in plastic-free containers. Ethique shampoo plus conditioner bundles sell on Amazon for $29:
Fanm Djanm means “strong woman” in Haitian Kreyol, and that’s just who founder Paola Mathè hopes to empower with her sustainable headwrap collection.
Her bold prints started with just eight headwraps that she sold out of her apartment on weekends. Today Fanm Djanm is inspiring women to live boldly from a vibrant headquarters in Austin with a strict zero-waste policy when it comes to using and recycling all fabric. All wraps are handmade with fabrics and dyes selected from entrepreneurs in African countries.
The mission of Hanahana Beauty Founder Abena Boamah-Acheampong is to disrupt the global beauty industry, and I’m here for that.
Hanahana products are made with natural ingredients and with shea butter directly sourced from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana.
Purchasing sustainable Hanahana skincare products uplifts women of color, particularly those in the Ghana shea trade. Hanahana pays two times the asking price for shea butter per kilo and works directly with healthcare providers in Tamale, Ghana to ensure the women making Hanahana shea butter have access to healthcare.
Fat and the Moon was founded by herbalist Rachel Budde with the belief that we can heal through self-love and self-care.
All plants used in Fat and the Moon products are ethically harvested and organically cultivated. All business relationships are formed with as much intention that goes into their non-toxic formulas. And all products are handmade-to-order.
Most Fat and the Moon products are packaged in recyclable glass containers, which makes me endlessly happy. Try the “gateway potion,” natural deodorant cream that Budde hopes will convert anybody skeptical about switching to natural deodorants.
Bonus Tip: Order Fat and the moon products on sustainable online marketplace EarthHero.
I love Bohemian Mama for its curated collection of sustainable brands that are seriously fashionable. They also have an incredible online marketplace for your sustainable baby and for sustainable children too.
“I founded Bohemian Mama, a lifestyle brand and retail destination to empower women with a platform to make more sustainable and ethical decisions for themselves and their children without compromising aesthetics.”– Gina Ozhuthual, CEO and Founder, Bohemian Mama
Because let’s be honest, you don’t have time to vet your brands when you are chasing around the littles!
Becky Cannon didn’t set out to start a company. But when she moved back to the United States from Japan, she noticed that it was harder to find clothing, toys, and dishes for her children that came from natural materials.
So she started developing her own products to keep her babies healthy. And with the help of her mother, Green Sprouts was born.
This is not only a mother/daughter-owned company, women are working in 60 percent of Green Sprouts’ top management positions.
The Green Sprouts reusable swim diaper sells for $15 on Amazon
This is a story that I can seriously relate to. Pi Yoga Founder Larissa Miller was on a yearlong adventure around the world when, while diving in Bali, she saw firsthand the impact of pollution and global warming on the ocean.
This reminds me so much of my own experience on an adventure around the world when, after dancing the night away at a the full-moon party in Thailand, I watched the sunrise over a tide of garbage and plastic waste.
Traveling began my sustainable journey just as it did for Miller who launched Pi Yoga when she returned home. The mission of her company is to empower men and women to feel comfortable and confident on and off the yoga mat – all while donating 10 percent of net profits back to sea turtle conservation!
Apparel is handmade in Bali.
That’s it! Twenty-Two women-owned, ethical brands in honor of Earth Day. But there are so many more! In FACT…here’s a bonus!
I wrote this post for Earth Day in April, but it’s now May and there is a fantastic Asian-American, woman-owned brand that aligns with my sustainable mission and the strong desire to honor Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage month here in the United States.
So here we go!
The seriously sexy thigh-high stockings made by VienneMilano are made in Italy and made to last. There is even one in leopard print. Helllooo.
Not only will they last longer than the average stocking, but VienneMilano also has a collection made entirely of sustainable nylon. Check out the selection of VienneMilano sustainable stockings here.
OK, that’s really it. I’m wrapping up. But who did I miss? Comment below!
Thank you for your commitment to sustainability every day.