Shop Smart: 6 Sustainable Brands Making a Difference

Woman wearing jean jacket eating sandwich in the desert

Written By: Taylor Rao

It pays to be smart. Well, sort of. In a day and age where we have so many options for everything --from toothpaste to footwear, to Netflix shows and grocery delivery programs, it’s worth your while to explore those options and open yourself up to a change.

Finding a new brand to become “brand loyal” to can be exciting, especially when those brands are making a difference by honoring sustainable practices that ultimately make our world a better place. There’s Fair Trade Certified products, companies who commit to making no waste by using all recyclable materials, and brands who stand up for positive change and donate proceeds to a good cause or offer refugees employment and the opportunity to learn English.

When you choose to shop for products that strive to do good, you too can make a difference. And the benefits reach far beyond boosting your social status. Often times, these products are truly made with love, AKA better materials, and ingredients that don’t include the “bad stuff” you see in some commercially-made, mass produced products.

Ready to start putting a bit more TLC into your shopping? Check out these sustainable brands that would be happy to add you to their loyal tribe of sustainable followers.


This jewelry line is just dreamy. And for our Upstate NY readers, that’s where Hello Zephyr called home until recently relocating to France (yeah, France). Founder Gabriela Maraschin’s modern, contemporary jewelry line is inspired by her travels, using earth tones to create one-of-a-kind handmade pieces.

Not only are Hello Zephyr’s collections stunning, fashionable and unique, but her company is committed to making zero waste. Zero. She uses every bit of material needed to make her jewelry, and all of the product’s packaging comes from recycled boxes she gathers from supermarkets, shops, and her neighbor’s recycling bins.


Emmy’s Organics is a healthy-snacking brand based in Ithaca, NY. After selling out of their first batch of vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO macaroons at a local farmers market, the company now ships its coconut cookie products across the world to deliver a tasty treat to health conscious snackers everywhere.

This brand is equally conscious of its carbon footprint; all of its products are manufactured in a wind and solar powered building. From giving back to the community to upholding the promise of being USDA organic, Emmy’s is committed to making an impact to your overall healthy living lifestyle.


Plastic bottles have been on the out for years as they’re quite literally a major waste (and BTW, not safe to drink in the summertime after being left out in the heat). But BottleCloth has found a new use for these recyclable bottles, and as the name suggests, they turn the waste from plastic bottles into tablecloths, placemats, table runners and more.

This magical process turns recycled plastic bottles into yarn, which is woven into a fabric to create products that are a welcomed addition to your dinner table, featuring unique designs in bold patterns in bright colors. This spill-resistant fabric is made to last and make a lasting impression on your houseguests with its commitment to sustainability and making somethin’ outta nothin’.


Getting a deal with the sharks on ABC’s entrepreneur-centric show Shark Tank is a great way to show off your sustainable brand to the masses, and that’s exactly what happened to the founders of Rareform. After appearing on the show in early 2017, Rareform accepted an offer from Kevin O’Leary, the shark who most often assumes the role of antagonist and is sarcastically nicknamed “Mr. Wonderful.”

This company recycles something most of us probably have never considered to be recyclable  --billboard vinyls. As it turns out, these vinyls can be chopped and cut up to be repurposed into a whole bunch of products. And since Rareform goes through 20,000 lbs. worth of vinyl per month, they are constantly innovating new ways to reuse it from duffle and tote bags to iPhone cases and wallets.

And don’t worry --you won’t be buying a bag with a McDonald’s quarter pounder on the side --they purposely repurpose billboards with interesting designs, patterns and colors that can be turned into something totally unrecognizable and unique.


The Sleeper brand is known for producing the world’s first walking sleepwear, meaning these handcrafted, high-fashion garments can go from day to night way better than your grandmother’s nightgown ever could.

Made solely within a local community in the Ukraine, all of Sleeper’s garments are handmade by artisans who use minimal machinery as to reduce carbon emissions. Quality control is big for this brand --from being able to monitor the production of every single garment, to sourcing only the best, most high-quality textiles of organic fibers only (100 percent silk, cotton and linen).

While you might feel a bit impatient waiting for this product to be shipped from overseas, just remember all the handmade hard work going into it. Sleeper wants its products to be part of your wardrobe for life, and the quality of the garment as well as its timeless style will ensure it lasts forever.


This UK coffee brand might have a cheeky name, but sustainability is no laughing matter for Grumpy Mule. It’s got the seal of approval as a Fair Trade and certified Organic product backed by the Rainforest Alliance, but furthermore they fully support their suppliers who grow the 100 percent Arabica beans that make this coffee possible.

In the coffee business, traceability is a major buzzword. A brand promise to follow through on traceability means Grumpy Mule not only knows where the beans are coming from, but they know the people who grew them and can compensate them fairly for their time and effort.