As more and more brands begin joining the eco friendly movement, it’s becoming increasingly clear that women are leading the frontlines in sustainability. From where we sit, it seems pretty clear; many of our distributors and a large percentage of our customers here at Zerra & Co. happen to be women even though we welcome everyone and anyone to enjoy our products.
But the fact that women are leading the push towards more sustainable living isn’t just anecdotal: in 2018, a Mintel poll revealed 71% of women in the UK had reported a commitment to live more ethically than the year before, while just 59% of men could say the same. The same kind of gap was shown when women and men were polled on topics like recycling and preserving water.
And while we hope to help bring all genders into the world of sustainable living, we also want to make sure we celebrate the amazing women-owned companies that are working hard to build a better (and greener) future for consumers everywhere!
So this year in honor of International Women’s Day, here are 20 sustainable companies owned, co-owned, and led by inspiring women you can start supporting today!
Mate is an LA based apparel brand that makes all their products with non-toxic, natural, and organic materials. It is founded by women, run by women, and created to work for women in all stages of life.
Their mission is “to provide people everywhere with essentials that are clean from seed to skin” and you know we love that. We’re also in love with the fact that Mate is plastic free, circular, and locally made.
When starting your journey in sustainable living, did you ever catch yourself in the bathroom with a bamboo toothbrush thinking “Uhhhhh…what about toothpaste?”
Yeah, us too.
That’s where Bite comes in - a women owned, eco conscious oral care brand. More than 1 billion plastic toothpaste tubes are thrown out each year, but Bite gives you a toothpaste that is plastic free, comes in recyclable glass with an aluminum lid, and is refillable. Plus, they have lots of other great sustainable products to try like deodorant and floss.
Package Free Shop
When it comes to sustainable one-stop-shopping, no one does it quite like Package Free Shop. You might recognize the founder, Lauren Singer, as “the girl with the trash jar.” Indeed, she went viral for fitting 8 years worth of waste in a single mason jar (#goals).
Since then, she’s built an entire business around creating what they call an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy. Such brands include products ranging from household needs to personal care and much more.
Blueland is an eco focused business that creates plastic free, refillable cleaners and hand soaps that are just as beautifully designed as they are planet-friendly.
Blueland was created by its founder, Sarah, when she set out on a mission to reduce her plastic usage but quickly noticed a lack of plastic free cleaning options. Not willing to give up, she created Blueland to fill that gap in the market and since 2019, their products have helped keep over 1 billion plastic bottles out of landfill.
Kind Laundry makes zero waste laundry strips to replace your plastic bottles of laundry detergent that are often filled with harmful ingredients and fragrances to boot. The company was founded by Angie Law and her husband Bernard in order to provide an alternative to traditional laundry that was non-toxic, plastic free, and would take up way less space.
Flex is a company that creates menstrual discs, cups, and other period products with a more sustainable approach than traditional pads and tampons. Although not a completely plastic free company, we love how they are making period products that are healthier for those that need them as well as the planet.
The founder, Lauren Wang is on a mission to make products for all people with periods and change the conversation around menstruation. Lauren says “Don’t blame your body. For generations, we’ve accepted that our period weeks should be uncomfortable. It’s time to change the status quo.”
Kat Nouri created stasher following a lightbulb moment while packing her kids’ lunches when she realized just how much single use plastics her family was using every day. To replace single use plastic bags, she created Stasher bags - reusable, silicone alternatives for lunches, leftovers, road tips, and so much more.
So far Stasher has sold millions of bags, preventing over 1 billion single-use plastics bags from ending up in landfill!
We couldn’t make a list of leading sustainable brands without shouting out some neighbors of ours! Like Zerra & Co., Cajou Creamery is based in Baltimore, MD and they are committed to providing more mindful products with clean ingredients.
Cajou creamery creates premium, plant based ice cream using whole superfoods free from chemicals, artificial flavors, or fillers. It was founded by the wife and husband team, Nicole Foster and Dwight Campbell, who reimagined ice cream as a healthy treat that could be better for your body and better for the planet.
The best part? You don’t have to be local to Baltimore to enjoy their amazing treats! They are equipped to ship nationwide.
Scrap Creative Reuse
Scrap Creative Reuse was originally formed in Portland, OR back in the 90’s after a group of teachers decided to start collecting their leftover classroom materials to be reused. In 1999, a teacher named Joan Grimm and a few of her peers received a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality to open a small creative reuse center for the community and Scrap Creative Reuse was officially born.
Today, Creative Reuse Centers like the one here in Baltimore with its women-led team, collect creative “scraps” to give them a new life! These supplies can be resold or donated to teachers, organizations, or other groups to reuse.
Earth Elements Soapworks
Earth Elements Soapworks was founded in Baltimore, MD. by Kellie Martin to create safe, non-toxic soaps perfect for all skin types, including (and especially) sensitive skin. Since then, the company has expanded to include many more skincare and beauty products that come in gorgeous and sustainable packaging.
Bell Mountain Naturals
Let’s be honest, though, you can never have enough adorable (and ethical!) soaps.
You can also check out Bell Mountain Natural for skincare and soaps, which are created naturally and ethically and come in packaging that is either recyclable, reusable, or compostable. The company was founded by Sarah York in order to provide natural and ethically sourced skincare essentials. Their products never contain any fillers, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, dyes or artificial fragrances, and are Leaping Bunny Certified.
Looking for an assortment of soap options, but don’t want to sacrifice sustainability?
Check out Fillaree, a small batch liquid soap factory in Durham, NC that’s woman owned and operated on a mission to reduce waste and encourage reusable options!
From hand soap to shampoo to dish soaps, fillatree has all your suds needs covered, all with sustainable packaging and varied refillable options.
Salvage Apparel Co.
Eager for more sustainable fashion options to fill your closet, but want to keep it fun? We have the perfect, female-founded solution: Salvage Apparel Co.
Planet loving besties, Megan and Emily, are behind Salvage Apparel Co., which seeks to “extend the life cycle of pre-loved clothing through sustainable redesign & resale.” By curating, mending, and upcycling secondhand clothing, Salvage Apparel Co. is helping keep clothes out of landfill and providing an eco alternative to fast fashion brands.
Have you ever wondered how sustainable your toilet paper is? Well, sisters Nnadagi and Louise Isa certainly have, and in response they created lor tush, a traditional toilet paper alternative that is completely plastic free and made from 100% bamboo.
Besides, we’ve honestly never seen cuter toilet paper. ‘Nuff said.
With a zero waste mindset at the forefront of their brand, Tonlé creates clothing, accessories and homewares from reclaimed materials that other manufacturers consider waste. The company's founder, Rachel Faller, was inspired to create the handcrafted, zero waste company after a trip to Cambodia and has since been on a mission to do whatever she can to reduce textile waste from the fashion industry.
Phoebe Yu came up with the idea of ettitude when she was shopping for bedding and noticed a gap in the market for sustainable yet still luxurious bedding. ettitude stands apart from the traditional off-the-shelf bedding you’ll find in home stores by using what they call CleanBamboo that’s free from chemicals, more sustainable to grow, and uses 500 times less water than cotton. Plus, CleanBamboo is sourced from FSC-certified sustainable forests so you know where it’s coming from.
They also create sustainable bathrobes, pajamas, and more!
As they put it, Lola is “founded by women with sky-high standards.” And when you’re talkin’ period and sexual wellness products, you want nothing but sky-high standards if you ask us.
Luckily, Lola delivers on that promise. Although Lola is not a plastic free company, we love the things they are doing, from providing 100% cotton tampons free of dyes and toxins, to donating over 6 million period products to date. We understand that not everyone can use reusable menstrual cups or discs, and that’s when amazing companies like Lola step in.
The company’s founder, Shu, says she created the Aplat Design Collection in homage to her lifestyle of daily rituals like sharing homemade food and wine with family and friends.
All the products are designed with the community and the planet in mind, and the canvas they use in creating them is 100% organic cotton, food safe, is sourced and produced with sustainable methods such as using low impact dying methods. Plus, they never use elastic, which can take up to 50 years to biodegrade!
Who says sustainability can’t be fun? Definitely not us, and nose best proves it. What are they the best at, you ask? Creating cheeky, non-toxic soy candles that come in reusable glass jars.
Nose best says they are a proud POC, Queer, and Woman-led sustainable candle start-up born in Harlem during quarantine, and that they are committed to reusing and recycling anything they obtain in their production process.
Somewhere around 10 billion plastic razors end up in landfill every year, and Lisse is committed to bringing that number way, way down. For those interested in shaving, Lisse’s founder hoped to bring more sustainability to the bathroom by providing sleek safety razors (with long lifespans!) and clean and cruelty free shaving essentials.
2% of gross razor sales are also donated to Femme International who empower people with periods through health and menstrual education in East Africa.
Zerra & Co.
Last but not least, we’d like to celebrate our own brand, Zerra & Co.! For those of you who don’t know us, Zerra & Co. is a female owned and operated cosmetics brand founded by Hailey Graef in Baltimore, MD with the mission to provide safe, natural and easy to use low waste cosmetics.
Every one of our products is handcrafted by people who love the environment just as much as you do, all without parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances, coal-tar pigments or any petroleum-based ingredients. Our containers are either 100% compostable/biodegradable, refillable or are eligible for our Container Return Program.You can check out all our low waste skincare and makeup right here.