Companies use huge amounts of our planet’s resources, and they in turn have huge impacts. It’s critical that sustainability be at the core of their sourcing, production, and distribution to make sure the world we live in continues to be habitable for all, not just a few.
Purchasing trends are showing that people prioritize environmental impact when buying. This gravitation towards companies that share our interest in protecting the planet comes at a time when the choice is becoming more and more urgent.
Not only are some companies responding to consumer preference, but, excitingly, many are leading the way forward in terms of environmental stewardship and separating themselves from those merely jumping on the bandwagon for “green marketing.”
👉 If you’d like, you can jump right into our list of 15 Sustainable Companies for 2023.
Otherwise, before we share examples of sustainable business in practice, we’ll discuss what it actually means for a business to be environmentally friendly.
📼 WATCH: Catch a different view of what it means for a company to be environmentally friendly and watch this video below
What Makes a Company Sustainable?
They must operate with the genuine intention of leaving the world, communities, the people, and stakeholders it encounters as a result of its existence, better off. Conventionally, companies have valued profit and the bottom line over all else. Sustainable companies position their impact on community and environment as critical measurements of their success. They employ a triple bottom line in which people, planet, and profit are all considered.
For more details, read: What is a Sustainable Business?
When a company claims their operations sustainable, know what to look for:
- Transparent & ethical sourcing of materials
- Environmentally conscious manufacturing practices
- Waste-conscious packaging (recyclable, as little material as possible)
- Shipping options that negate the carbon footprint
- Diverting landfill waste at their product’s end-of-life
Proof of “eco-friendly” claims, such as certifications, audits, or other forms of accountability (like Certified B Corporations)
It’s much more than just “eco-friendly” products—these companies embody positive social and environmental impact at their core. Negatively affecting the environment is out of the question. Rather, it’s how substantial their positive contribution is.
Why Should Companies Be Sustainable?
First and foremost is the reality that we only have one planet, and we all share it. All businesses have an impact on the planet, and that impact affects all of us.
Consumers are increasingly seeking to engage with eco-friendly products and companies as well. In a 2019 report from Nielsen, 81% of consumers said it is “extremely” or “very” important that companies “implement programs to improve the environment,” and 30% of consumers said they are “willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on social responsibility claims.”
In particular, 90% of Millennials and Generation Zers “believe companies must act to help social and environmental issues” according to another study.
These consumers are a driving force in socially-conscious shopping, and their spending power will only increase as time goes on.
Adopting eco-friendly practices is also a great way for these companies to save money.
- Reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency saves on utility costs.
- Recycling or reusing old products to turn into new ones saves on materials.
- Nearly 40% of employees prefer to work at environmentally friendly companies. Heightened employee retention means less turnover.
Becoming an eco-friendly business brings a host of positive benefits in the immediate and far into the future.
For more details, read: Why is Sustainable Business Important?
How Do We Know If a Company is Sustainable?
If you google “eco-friendly companies,” you’ll get a long list of so-called “green” companies. But what separates companies that are “going green” from those that are actually environmentally friendly?
Being radically open and transparent is a major tenet of how we at Grow Ensemble think about sustainable and socially responsible businesses.
For example, all of the websites of companies on our list have clear, easy-to-find information about their environmentally sustainable practices.
Exploring their websites doesn’t just show you that they are green companies. It provides eye-opening information on each aspect of their efforts and often introduces environmental innovation we didn’t even know was possible!
These companies don’t just have goals to be more sustainable by 2050. They have short-term and long-term goals outlined for all to see that guide them to sustainable innovation and positive impact.
Another way to find truly environmentally-friendly businesses is through their certifications. It’s always important to have an understanding of what certifications mean, so you know how reliably they represent your values.
For example, as we have mentioned time and time again, B Corporation certification is considered the gold standard for better-for-the-world business practices.
If you “see the B” on a company’s website or product, that means the company achieved an impressive minimum score on the B Impact Assessment, an assessment that is divided into five Impact Areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers.
The environmental area of the assessment is very stringent and thorough, and B Corp Certified companies often provide an impact report that details their sustainability plan and implementation.
Two other major certifications/associations that we’re particularly happy to see:
All 1% for the Planet members (including Grow Ensemble!) pledge 1% of their total revenue to highly-vetted environmental nonprofit organizations. Some take these partnerships further, joining together both the financial and human capital of the partners to create impressive and widespread environmental impact.
These certifications require more than just a corporate social responsibility statement or self-labeling as a “green business” (this will be especially clear after you see what the companies on our list are up to).
How Can a Company Be More Sustainable?
Measure Their Impact
A company’s carbon footprint, where and how they acquire their materials, how and if they give back—measuring each aspect of what it takes for a business to run successfully and what it costs outside of dollars alone shines a bright light on their overall impact.
Map the Supply Chain
The sequence of activities that allows a company to deliver its products or services to the end consumer is the supply chain. Knowing—and showing—how each piece is acquired, transformed, implemented, and fits into the end product is ideal.
Reallocate B2B Spending & Advertising
It’s just as important to understand what a company does (and who they spend their money with) to get their products to the shelves.
Truly eco-friendly, sustainable companies choose to work with others like them for everything from software design and recruiting efforts, to which advertising platforms are in-line with positive social and environmental impact.
Pay Workers a Living Wage
A company’s workforce is just as important as the materials they use for their products. How can we expect employees to care about the environment and living sustainably if they simply can’t afford to?
For more details, read: Sustainable Business Practices That Will Make Business Better.
15 Sustainable Companies for 2023
Outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, is always on the top of eco-friendly company lists, and with good reason. The Ventura-based company has spent its forty-seven years in business being at the cutting edge of environmentally conscious business practices.
And they continue to evolve and innovate.
Patagonia proudly states they “[a]re in business to save our home planet.”
It’s easy to see that this motto is more than just for looks—being in business for the planet is deeply ingrained in who Patagonia is as a company.
For the last 35 years, they have pledged 1% of sales to the conservation of the natural environment. This practice led to Patagonia’s Founder, Yvon Chouinard, co-founding 1% for the Planet so other companies could make the same contribution to environmental protection. The B Corp has awarded over $89 million to national and international grassroots, environmental groups. They even sued the president to preserve national monuments in 2017!
Much of their raw materials are recycled or grown organically in order to reduce their environmental footprint. And they aim to be completely carbon neutral by 2025.
On top of all of that, their initiative, Patagonia Action Works, helps connect consumers with local activist groups in their community. All of this makes complete sense if you get the chance to learn more about Yvon Chouinard.
We highly recommend Let My People Go Surfing if you want a little more background on the environmental principles behind Patagonia. If you are looking to shop more sustainably, check out some of our Patagonia favorites, the Nano Puff or Topley Jackets. Looking for more options? We’ve got you covered with our list of the 9 best Patagonia jackets.
2. Seventh Generation
The paper, personal care, and cleaning product company, Seventh Generation, has been focused on being eco-friendly since being founded in 1988. Seventh Generation’s mission is “to transform the world into a healthy, sustainable & equitable place for the next seven generations.”
Packaging used for selling and shipping products is a huge source of waste and negative environmental impact.
So, along with their plant-based products made of ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients, Seventh Generation makes sure their packaging is just as environmentally friendly. In order to reduce waste, the company uses recycled materials for their packaging and designs the packaging itself to be recycled.
Their goal is for 100% of their products and packaging to use biobased or post-consumer recycled material by 2020, and like Patagonia, Seventh Generation aims to become a zero-waste company by 2025. Seventh Generation also focuses on environmental advocacy and community action. From supporting the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 campaign to offering grants to nonprofit organizations through their foundation, the Seventh Generation Foundation, Seventh Generation fights to make sure their impact doesn’t simply end after their sustainable products get to your door.
You can find all Seventh Generation products at eco-friendly marketplace Grove Collaborative.
(And if you want to learn more about Grove and why we love them, check out our complete Grove Collaborative review.)
3. A Good Company
If environmental sustainability isn’t the first thing you think of when you see an e-commerce company, that’s because it generally isn’t. But, A Good Company is on a mission to change e-commerce for that exact reason.
A Good Company exists to create sustainable everyday products. As you may notice with the other companies on this list, “sustainability” means more than just not polluting the planet.
How does A Good Company convince its customers they are on the cutting edge of sustainability? Radical openness!
A Good Company believes that full transparency will give their customers the opportunity to understand what sustainability looks like for an environmentally friendly company, and it will push them to stay innovative in staying as environmentally responsible “as humanly possible.” It encourages customers to be conscious consumers, furthering its mission to end mindless consumption.
From their luxury pen made of melted-down illegal firearms from El Salvador, to their eco-friendly phone case, to the world’s first climate-positive notebook made with stone paper, A Good Company leaves no stone unturned in its commitment for sustainability. They even ensure climate-positive packaging.
Check out our interview with Anders Ankarlid, CEO and Co-Founder of A Good Company.
Shop consciously with A Good Company here.
4. New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium Brewing Company is the fourth-largest craft brewery in the US and has been committed to being eco-friendly since its founding in 1991.
During the initial founding, the owners took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and set down their core values, chief among them, “kindling social, environmental and cultural change as a business role model; environmental stewardship: honoring nature at every turn of the business.”
The Fort Collins based brewery and Certified B Corporation uses only sustainable vendors and is also a Platinum-certified Zero Waste Business. Plus, 99.9% of their waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.
Energy consumption is one of New Belgium’s chief environmental concerns. The eco-friendly company aims to lower their level of emissions through energy conservation, producing energy onsite, and implementing a voluntary internal energy tax.
Crack open an eco-conscious cold one at NewBelgium.com.
6. Dr. Bronner’s
Dr. Bronner’s All-One organic soaps and personal care products are some of the best-selling eco-friendly products out there, and with good reason.
The sustainable business relies on six “Cosmic Principles” to guide how they create their products and use the power of their business as a force for good, including “treat the earth like home” and “be fair to suppliers.”
Like other companies on this list, Dr. Bronner’s truly cares about doing right by the environment. Dr. Bronner’s organic and fair trade ingredients are all certified by some of the most environmentally and socially sustainable organizations.
Not to mention, all of their plastic bottles are 100% post-consumer recycled, which conserves resources and reduces landfill waste.
The California-based company also builds equitable supply chains through its fair trade practices. Dr. Bronner’s fair trade principles include fair and stable prices to farmers, environmental stability, and no forced or child labor.
The company estimates 10,000 people globally have benefited directly and another 10,000 indirectly from their fair trade projects.
Preserve’s founder worked with dentists, scientists, and engineers to design the “Preserve Toothbrush” made from recycled plastics all the way back in 1996.
Today, Preserve has a collection of many sustainable products made from recycled plastics, including razors, measuring cups, and colanders. The company also makes plant-based products like their compostable straws, cups, and plates.
One of their more recent initiatives, Preserve Ocean Plastic Initiative (POPi), uses plastics from the coastlines and oceans to make toothbrushes and razors, reducing the plastic waste in the oceans. All of Preserve’s products are recyclable or compostable.
Preserve took their Certified B Corp company one step further to reduce waste and started the Gimme 5 recycling program in 2007. Consumers can recycle their #5 polypropylene plastic in Gimme 5 bins at Whole Foods, which are then turned into new Preserve products. The company also has a Toothbrush Takeback program, which accepts used Preserve toothbrushes that are also recycled and turned into new eco-friendly products.
If you want to learn more about Preserve and their background, listen to our conversation with the CEO, Eric Hudson where we discussed how to keep plastic out of the ocean.
Explore a few of Preserve’s household and personal care offerings at Grove Collaborative.
8. Numi Organic Tea
Numi Organic Tea, an Oakland-based organic tea enterprise, is a rare quadruple-bottom line company that includes people, planet, profit, and purpose in their business model.
Numi’s teas are made with ethically sourced organic teas, herbs, and 100% real fruits, flowers, and spices.
The founding B Corp has fair trade or fair labor certified products. Their company also uses sustainable packaging for their teas. The tea boxes are made of 90% post-consumer recycled content and their tea wrappers are now compostable.
Numi Organic Tea’s mission includes maximizing social and environmental impact, which they achieve through the Numi Foundation. The Numi Foundation supports three programs, helping people both locally in Oakland, and globally.
Recently, Numi Organic Tea celebrated Earth Day by pledging to become carbon neutral by 2023. Their three-step plan includes reducing emissions throughout their supply chain, using 100% renewable energy for their headquarters, and offsetting emissions.
Have a great-tasting cup of tea with the planet in mind at NumiTea.com.
Allbirds is already a 100% carbon neutral business, but they are still unsatisfied. How could that be?
This shoes and apparel company knows it’s too late to settle for neutrality. Instead of simply investing in carbon offset projects to account for the pollution the business puts into the world, Allbirds has pledged to bring their carbon footprint to zero.
And it’s easy to trust them. The transparency Allbirds brings to their sustainability initiatives is clear simply by studying their website.
You can read all about their journey and approach to net zero in the sustainability tab on the top navigation of their site, among a number of other social and environmental innovations Allbirds prides itself on.
Plus, the Certified B Corp makes it easy to be a conscious consumer. They attach a nutrition-like label to all of their products that spell out the associated emissions.
In April 2021, Allbirds open-sourced their carbon footprint tool so other companies and consumers could benefit. Why am I not surprised?
From 2016-2020, the 60 biggest banks have lent more than $3.8 trillion of their customer’s money to fossil fuels. And the four biggest banks in America account for more than $240 billion dollars of this money every year!
In direct opposition, for every $1,000 customers transferred to Aspiration, they rack up an annual climate impact of up to 6,000 fewer miles driven in the average car.
How? With Aspiration debit and credit cards, you get up to 10% cash back on purchases from socially responsible businesses, your car’s gas and its associated carbon dioxide emissions are automatically offset, and you can feel great knowing that Aspiration will actively use your money for the good of our planet and its people.
Aspiration’s Impact Measurement (AIM) feature generates your own personal sustainability score based on your purchases. This is the perfect tool to help you understand your own footprint and know where to spend your money.
Learn more about this better bank with our Aspiration Bank Review.
12. Avocado Green Mattress
Avocado Green Mattress not only makes a compelling case as the most sustainable mattress in the world, but a case for being one of the most sustainable businesses in the world.
Like many companies on this list, Avocado works hard to produce an incredibly environmentally-friendly product and uses their platform as a business to make even more impact.
Let’s start with the product. With Avocado’s Green Mattress, customers get a mattress without toxic chemicals and with the highest standard of sustainable materials. Heck, Avocado raises its own sheep to ensure organic standards are met for their wool.
When you invest in an Avocado mattress, you also invest in a transparent B Corp, 1% for the Planet member, and Certified Climate Neutral company that is working diligently towards achieving zero waste and reducing emissions.
The company also uses its resources to get active politically, having supported 36 legislative bills and spoken at 26 events advocating for sustainability policies in 2021 alone.
Rest easier with an Avocado Green Mattress.
13. Tablas Creek
Tablas Creek has been using organic methods in the wine-making process since the 1960s (before it was cool) to keep workers safe from toxins and foster a healthier vineyard.
Today, Tablas is the United State’s first Regenerative Organic Certified™ vineyard. That means that in making their wine, Tablas Creek diligently considers soil health, animal health, and social welfare.
Valuing all three of these pillars in the winegrowing process—and by working with nature as opposed to using it—not only makes delicious, top-of-the-line wines, but it helps revitalize land, nurture its ecosystems, and promote the wellness of workers and consumers.
Long story short, Tablas Creek is one of the only sustainable businesses on this list that can claim to be truly reversing climate change.
Learn more about Tablas Creek Vineyard and the agricultural and regenerative practices that set them apart.
Also, don’t miss our interview with General Manager Jason Haas and Viticulturist Jordan Lonborg, on what it takes to run a sustainable vineyard.
You can grab yourself a planet-friendly bottle at TablasCreek.com.
14. MUD Jeans
MUD Jeans may be a small company, but it sets a mighty example for the world of sustainable denim and fashion.
This B Corporation based in the Netherlands is the world’s first circular denim brand.
In 2013, MUD introduced their Lease A Jeans program, a model that frees consumers from the environmental anxiety of buying a new pair of jeans. Instead, you borrow MUD Jeans’ material in the shape of jeans, and return it once you’re done using it.
Through this program, MUD jeans avoid the landfill and encourage a less wasteful lifestyle.
The brand specifically focuses on its water usage, carbon emissions, land use, and recycling. With these initiatives, MUD has made an incredible impact:
We had a great conversation on the podcast with MUD Jeans’ former CSR Manager Laura Vicaria, where we discussed more about what sets the standard for sustainable denim production.
15. Grove Collaborative
Grove Collaborative is a marketplace that strives to make sustainable and healthy choices easy. In fact, Grove is the first plastic-neutral retailer in the world, meaning they divert the same amount of plastic from the ocean that they produce.
And, as with all of the eco-friendly companies on our list, this B Corp has an ambitious goal in the short term: be plastic-free by 2025.
Grove also is heavily involved with reforestation efforts and in minimizing their overall carbon footprint.
If you are looking for a place to find environmentally-friendly products backed by a company with a proven track record of making the world a better place, Grove is the perfect place for you.
Support the Planet, Support Sustainable Companies
These are only a few of the truly eco-friendly companies out there.
Thankfully, there are plenty more businesses out there that are choosing to protect the planet and people over exclusively making a profit as well.
If you’re looking for a good starting point for a specific product, our directory of better-for-the-world products & business, Buy Ensemble, is a great resource to check out.
You can also check out our list of sustainable or zero waste gifts for some inspiration. As these companies continue their work, they aren’t only focused on their own impact, they are also redefining the role of business in addressing climate change to protect our planet.
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Co-Founder & CEO, Grow Ensemble
I’m Cory Ames. I’m a writer, podcaster, social entrepreneur, and the Founder of Grow Ensemble.