Thanks to Al Gore, Captain Planet and the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” campaigns that were pushed hard during the good ol’ 90s, we all know that taking care of our environment is a must. And so do more and more eco-friendly brands.
As climate change is a problem that isn’t going away, there’s never been a more important time to collectively become more aware of how we—as individuals, corporations and businesses—are affecting the planet. In case Greta Thunberg’s adorable scowl hasn’t convinced you to take the environmentally-friendly plunge just yet, new companies are popping up everywhere to provide easy and accessible options to use less plastic, recycled packaging, sustainable products, organic food and any number of ways to make healthy choices.
If you’re a business owner and you want to dip your toes into green branding, there is so much you can learn from these eco-friendly companies.
Let’s take a look at 11 eco-friendly brands that are positively affecting our planet and finding huge commercial success in the process.
1) Beyond Meat
Talk to any environmentalist, and they’ll agree that the biggest problem facing our generation is climate change. And one of the biggest contributors to this environmental crisis?
The meat industry.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my burgers. But there’s no denying that meat production is having seriously adverse effects on our environment.
That’s where Beyond Meat comes in.
Beyond Meat is shaking up the food industry by creating delicious, plant-based “meat” products (carnivore approved!) that are better for human health, the environment, climate change and animals. The taste? For reals, it’s just as good as any burger I’ve ever had. There, I said it!
How Beyond Meat uses green branding
All of Beyond Meat’s branding focuses on the good they’re doing for the environment and their consumers. By combining cool graphics and drool-worthy product photos, they’re able to show the benefit on all sides: how their products are saving the planet while saving their consumers’ bodies.
How you can be like Beyond Meat
Sometimes all it takes to protect the environment is thinking outside of the box. If your industry isn’t traditionally eco-friendly, put your own environmentally friendly spin on things to do your part to protect the planet. For example, if you own a small printing company, you might offer a discount to your customers who print on recycled paper. There’s opportunity in every business to be more green—even the unexpected ones. You’ve just got to get a little creative.
Unless you were one of those with the foresight to get a bidet when the Covid-19 pandemic began, then, like me, you’ve become amazed with how much toilet paper you can quickly go through! With a regular household staple that supports your (ahem) regular habit, you want to choose what is right for your family and the environment.
Who Gives A Crap offers a more environmentally friendly toilet paper that is “good for your bum and great for the world” as they say. Their products are 100% plastic free and have options made from 100% recycled paper or 100% bamboo. Additionally, 50% of profits are donated to help build toilets for communities in need around the world. They have a number of community partners who already have been doing good work, proving that it is both beneficial and practical to leave effective community work to the experts.
How Who Gives A Crap uses green branding
Who Gives A Crap embraces the “do good, feel good” side of philanthropy. Their branding is all about fun colors and design and they use humor in their social media & marketing without diminishing the quality of their product and community impact. They are also a big fan of potty humor which is something anyone can get behind!
How you can be like Who Gives A Crap
Who Gives A Crap is very honest and encouraging about their philanthropy, saying “We weren’t always making multimillion dollar donations—our first ever donation was to WaterAid for $2,500 Australian dollars. But because we established our donation model in the very beginning, we’re able to scale our business while prioritizing impact, all with the help of our customers who believe in our mission.” It’s ok to start small when giving back, but if you start budgeting accordingly, your donations can grow, along with the heart of your company.
For all you non-outdoorsy types, Patagonia is one of the world’s most successful activewear retailers, selling everything from snow gear to fleece to sleeping bags that appeal to the all-things-adventure crowd.
And because those folks typically also very eco-conscious, Patagonia’s corporate philosophy is all about going green. They’ve built repair centers around the world to increase the longevity of their products and lower their carbon footprint. In 2016, they pledged $10 million of their Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups dedicated to preserving and improving the planet.
Patagonia’s corporate philosophy is “100% For the Planet,” but they’re not perfect. They’ve been open and honest about the areas of their business that need improvement, like using fossil fuels to produce shells for their coats, which contributes to climate change.
Patagonia’s commitment to changing and improving those processes and moving in the direction of becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly sets them apart from their not-so-green competitors.
How Patagonia uses green branding
Patagonia’s rugged design and nature focus speaks to their outdoorsy target audience, but also echoes their commitment to protecting the wilderness that acts as the focal point of their brand.
How you can be like Patagonia
Not 100% eco-friendly yet? It’s OK. No one’s expecting you to be perfect. Being transparent and making the commitment toward a more sustainable business will connect with your customers. For example, let’s say you haven’t implemented a company recycling policy yet. Be open, be transparent, and let your team and customers know that you’re working on a solution.
Part of raising a healthy baby is providing a healthy environment, and don’t you think taking care of the natural environment is part of that too? Green Toys are an Eco Mama’s dream: not only are they safely made for your baby, they are made with 100% recycled materials.
The toys are made from recycled plastic milk jugs, packaged in recycled materials, and are printed with soy ink. Their system also diverts material from landfills, which saves energy and reduces their carbon footprint. Additionally, they are 100% US made, which reduces greenhouse gasses, energy, and transportation.
How Green Toys uses green branding
With a name like Green Toys you can bet that they use a lot of green color in their marketing! Their website features enchanting images of kids having good clean fun—that’s good for the environment. Their mission is simple: raising awareness about sustainability while delivering unquestionably safe products. And as such, they attract the kind of parents and customers that are dedicated to going green as well.
How you can be like Green Toys
If you are truly dedicated to going green with your company, consider all the products and materials you use to do business – where do you source your office supplies, where does the food you serve come from, what is the clothing you sell made of? Embrace transparency and tell the story behind each material. Feature the story on your website and marketing materials. Customers will appreciate the care that goes into your product and will become loyal to your brand.
5) Wipro EcoEnergy
You might not have heard of them, but Wipro EcoEnergy is doing big things in the world of green business by providing “intelligent and sustainable solutions for enterprise-wide energy operations and efficiency management.” In other words, they partner with companies to help them reduce their carbon footprints and energy wastage, which saves them a ton of money.
Wipro keeps those client savings numbers under wraps, but they’re much more open about how they’ve helped the environment. To date, their energy management services have saved over 1.5 billion KwH, equivalent to taking over 222,600 cars off the road for a year.
Not too shabby, right?
How WiPro EcoEnergy uses green branding
As a consulting company, Wipro stays in the background and lets their customer results speak for themselves. That’s completely evident in their design. Their website is clean and simple, illustrating the environmental impact their services have for their clients and letting the results take the center stage.
How you can be like Wipro EcoEnergy
When going eco-friendly, make it a win-win for your customers. Wipro was able to slash their clients energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time. Think of ways that you can show your clients how green practices not only benefit the environment, but directly benefit them, as well.
As a person who menstruates, you become quickly aware of what a messy experience it can be. Growing up, I was dismayed by the amount of soiled products overflowing my bathroom trash bin and quickly sought out alternatives. An individual can go through approximately 11,000 disposable pads and/or tampons in a lifetime and when you multiply that number by everyone with a period on this planet, that results in a substantial amount of waste.
Thinx period-proof panties have the look and feel of regular underwear, but with their famous technology, they can hold up to four tampons’ worth of menstrual fluid. This is a much more sustainable solution than single-use products! Their super-absorbent fabric is tailor-made to serve light, medium, or heavy flows. Thinx crafts their undies carefully and consciously, from their sustainable manufacturing processes to the ethical working conditions where they are made. Thinx also comes in a variety of styles like hip-huggers and thongs with cute patterns and colors, so you can feel confident and beautiful.
Co-founder Miki Agrawal was first inspired to donate a portion of Thinx’s proceeds to support women’s organizations in the developing world when she learned that millions of girls were missing school due to lack of access to menstrual supplies and the shame associated with periods. Since then, the company has developed new initiatives and partnered with community organizations to fight for better access to puberty education, amplify grassroots activism, and donate their underwear and time.
How Thinx uses green branding
Thinx has created a brand that successfully connects with their targeted audience and customers. Chances are you’re already aware of Thinx due to their relentless targeted advertising on social media. They created a brand whose voice is witty and unbashful, paired with clever imagery featuring natural colors and photos of natural, unashamed bodies. (This is notably very different from any other menstrual product advertising which usually shows joyous women, much too happy to be on their period, biking down country roads or frolicking on the beach. Psh, who does that?!) And this new way of marketing bleeds into their other values of providing a good sustainable product that also does good for the world.
How you can be like Thinx
Doing good for the environment and doing good for humanity go hand in hand. Find a cause/mission you’re passionate about and make it the driving force behind your brand. If you’re already an established company, no worries! You can still identify a cause you feel strongly about (and a green cause at that!) and integrate it into your brand DNA.
For example, if you want to bring clean water to communities in need, do a “corporate takeover” for one month out of the year. Redesign your website and marketing materials to focus on your clean water initiative and donate a part of your sales for that month to your cause.
Bonus: when your customers see the good you’re doing in the world, it will build an emotional connection. They’ll want to be a part of what you’re doing, and as a byproduct, sales will soar.
There’s nothing more relaxing than a day at the beach. Warm sun, the constant roar of the waves, digging in the powdery sand to discover…candy wrappers and bottle caps?
Pela is driven by their mission to create a waste-free future. They believe that the technology exists to make everyday products without everyday waste, it just takes the right company with the right community to make these products the new normal. They were inspired by the 60,000+ plastic phone cases which are thrown away each year and have developed the first phone case that’s 100% biodegradable.
Since then they have expanded to smart watch bands, air pod cases, and sunglasses. All of their products are made of biodegradable and compostable materials and free of BPA, lead, cadmium and phthalates. Not to mention, their designs are super cute and creative!
How Pela uses green branding
Jeremy Lang founded Pela after seeing first-hand the damage plastic was doing to our oceans while on family vacation in Hawaii, which accounts for the gnarly surfer vibes you’ll see in their Instagram. If surfers like it, you can bet it’s good for the environment! Their brand showcases a lifestyle that is both chic and eco-friendly.
How you can be like Pela
With some of Pela’s products they donate a portion of the sale directly to causes they care about. Consider doing the same with your company’s merchandise! A line of apparel you sell or one cocktail on the menu can benefit an environmental cause of your choosing.
Disposable plastic straws are harmful to our environment. They are one of the ten most frequently found things on the beaches and are the cause of death to thousands of fish and animals.
In an effort to change our habits and protect the wildlife, plastic straw bans have been enacted across the country in major cities like Seattle, Portland, Milwaukee and Washington DC; some states like Virginia and California; and some with some brands like Starbucks, Hyatt, and SeaWorld.
Rising from these changes came many eco-friendly straw alternatives, like YesStraws.
YesStraws produces 100% biodegradable straws made from natural materials so you can enjoy your drink comfortably without damaging the Earth. They use raw materials from renewable sources, like wheat and cane stems which are fast growing, compostable and biodegradable. Their brand also helps by educating the local community about ecologically conscious lifestyles.
How Yes Straws uses green branding:
YesStraws lets their product speak for itself in their branding, as a sensible and effortless straw alternative. Their simple web layout and mouth watering photos of cocktails show how their products are sustainable and good for the environment.
How you can be like Yes Straws:
When you start thinking about environmental problems and your impact, you soon realize that every tiny habit and item matters. It’s easy not to buy harmful products when the harmful products aren’t available to buy (like a ban on straws) but also easy to choose an eco-friendly alternative when it is available. Think about other harmful products and develop alternative solutions—even if one already exists, maybe yours can be better made and better marketed!
What happens to your shoes when they’ve taken their last step? Most shoes are made of harmful synthetic materials that cannot be recycled and every year 300 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills.
Native Shoes is changing the game of footwear using unique manufacturing techniques and vegan materials to lighten their carbon footprint on the world. They also reduce waste by collecting old pairs of Native Shoes to give them new life as playground flooring and insulation. Most notable is their groundbreaking, limited edition Plant Shoe, the first 100% biodegradable shoe made of all natural materials and can be composted after use.
How Native Shoes uses green branding
As they state in their mission “We are lighthearted by nature, for nature. Like the shoes we design, we believe life should be happy, colorful, carefree and fun.” Their brand design is simple, colorful and in all sense of the word, light.
How you can be like Native Shoes
Native Shoes shows that doing good for the environment can also be good for your mental health while taking small steps toward positive change. Your company’s commitment to the environment can come from celebration rather than obligation. Start a new initiative to only order office meals from organic, sustainable restaurants and taste how good doing good can be.
10) Numi Tea
I have a confession to make: I’m a tea junkie. And as a self-proclaimed expert on the subject, let me tell you, you won’t find a better (and more eco-friendly) tea than Numi.
Numi Tea has sustainability in their DNA. Their mission is to unite mind, body and spirit through tea, and they extend that holistic idea to helping protect our planet.
Not only do they talk the talk, they walk the walk. Everything Numi Tea does ties back to their mission: from sustainable packaging to making donations to environmental nonprofits to tracking carbon emissions during the production process. They make sure every step in sourcing, making and selling their tea is environmentally sound.
Numi Tea is also the brainpower behind OSC2 (One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community), a group of CEOs and business leaders from the sustainably-focused, natural products industry that are dedicated to improving sustainability across all industries. They’re dedicated to improving not only their own practices, but business practices across the board. Now that’s commitment.
How Numi Tea uses green branding
Everything in Numi Tea’s design and branding screams organic and eco-friendly. Just like green practices are a part of their brand DNA, that eco-friendly vibe is a part of their design DNA as well. Numi uses a lot of earth tones like brown in their design and branding. This isn’t super common, but makes total sense for an organic brand. When people see brown (the color of soil) combined with their overall eco-friendly branding, they feel connected to everything earthy.
How you can be like Numi Tea
The reason that Numi Tea is so successful in their sustainable practices is because it’s part of who they are. Insert sustainable practices into the core of your company mission. When it’s part of who you are as a brand, it will infiltrate everything you do, and being green will become effortless. Say you own a surf shop. Make green practices part of your brand by only sell boards made out of recycled materials or organize a monthly beach cleanup with your team.
11) Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation is a cleaning products company that revolutionized the cleaning industry with eco-friendly cleaning products free of harmful toxins and chemicals. Unlike other eco-friendly brands which often cost more, Seventh Generation prices their items competitively, making it an affordable yet healthy choice that is not only safe for the environment, but for your family and pets.
It’s the one-two punch of being awesome for the environment and awesome for human health. The company also recently topped Forbes’ annual “Best For The Environment” list, which highlights companies that go above and beyond standard green practices. Clearly, they’re doing something right.
How Seventh Generation uses green branding
Similar to Numi Tea, Seventh Generation is so blatant with their eco-friendly design, it’s impossible to miss. Considering they’re so focused on the environment, it definitely feels true to their brand.
How you can be like Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation is a pretty traditional green company, but the secret to their success is how they’ve been able to expand outside of the typical customer base by highlighting product benefits that appeal to all consumers—not just eco-folks. If you can push your product’s other benefits (Seventh Generation focused on health), you’ll get even more customers behind your eco-friendly mission.
How are you going green?
Whether you’re already a green expert or you’re just dipping your toe into eco-friendly branding, there are lessons to be learned from these eleven sustainable companies. They’re crushing the competition, supporting the planet, and staying true to their brand DNA along the way. That’s what we call winning.
This article was originally written by Deanna DeBara and published in March 2017. It has been updated with new examples and information.