Posted: Thu 26th Oct 2023
There has been a significant shift in consumer behaviour towards more conscious and sustainable spending habits. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their purchases on the environment and are actively seeking out small businesses that prioritise people and planet over profit.
We highlight 18 entrepreneurial brands that we hope you'll shop with. You can take inspiration from their sustainable practices, as well as download free how-to guides with trends, tools and tips to implement in your own business.
Beauty, health and wellness
Founded by Freddy Ward and Charlie Bowes-Lyon in 2019
Deodorant traditionally comes in plastic cartridges or aerosol cans, both of which end up in landfills and are harmful to the environment.
Wild’s alternative is to invite customers to buy a one-off aluminium case for deodorant, then refill it with cartridges made of compostable and recyclable packaging.
Once done with a cartridge, customers can either recycle, compost or repurpose it by planting seeds in it. This more sustainable solution helps reduce unnecessary waste.
Founded by Brianne West in 2012
Proudly carbon-positive, Ethique makes products that are plastic-free and, it hopes, eventually packaging-free.
Unlike regular shampoos, the company’s shampoo bars aren’t 95% water, meaning its carbon emissions are 92% lower compared to traditional shampoos. Each solid shampoo bar is equivalent to three bottles of shampoo.
Founded by Anna Chatburn in 2018
Refillable products are slowly becoming the norm, whether it’s household cleaners, cosmetics and so on.
Anna was motivated to create a solution to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that is manufactured in the beauty industry, in order to help protect our oceans and environment.
Azur will send you refills, but you keep and replace the pump on your new delivery. Once you’ve collected enough bottles, you can send them back to Azur, who will sterilise and reuse them.
Founded by Jo Holden Crain in 2016
Having encountered huge difficulties in finding producers and suppliers of biodegradable packaging, Jo founded Valley Mist which showed great persistence in becoming the UK’s first lip balm producer to package its products in biodegradable materials.
Valley Mist’s next aim is to convince UK packaging producers to start providing biodegradable packaging, not just for lip balm but for all beauty products.
Inspired to start a beauty brand or implement sustainable practices within your existing business?
Download a free guide to learn about industry certifications, opportunities for impact and actions you can take inside and outside of your beauty businesses.
Homeware and gifts
Co-founded by Tasha and Barney Green in 2016
Interiors brand, Weaver Green, creates textiles and home accessories that look and feel like materials, such as cotton and wool, but are made from fully recyclable materials.
The company is responsible for recycling over 80 million plastic bottles and turning them into beautiful, contemporary home textiles.
Founded by Kay Suppamas in 2017
Leafage was born from the simplest of desires; to connect people and inspire and cultivate a love of nature. Its brand philosophy is centred around three Ps – plants, people and potential.
Spending time in nature can heal, inspire and connect people. The workshops that Leafage curates for leading brands help employees and organisations realise that wellbeing is important.
Founded by Emily Mathieson in 2016
A UK-based homeware company whose products are all made by people who are traditionally excluded from the labour market. Aerende works with social enterprises and charities that already have systems in place to access and support these community groups.
The company’s candles are made by people who have learning disabilities, its ceramics by people recovering from mental health illness, and its textiles by a social enterprise that supports isolated women who are looking to learn new skills.
Those are just a few initiatives that Aerende collaborates with to fulfil its commitment to helping people who would otherwise struggle to find gainful employment.
Founded by Jonathan Cottom in 2021
The Breakbottle product is a double-walled insulated stainless-steel bottle that twists open for an easy clean and dries quickly.
Founded by Olly Rzysko in 2020
The UK candle industry is worth nearly £2 billion a year and founder Olly identified that there was an opportunity to create a feel-good candle company that challenges the sector and gives back to society.
With every candle sold, 10% of the sale donated goes to a good cause. That includes the National Literacy Trust, which gives disadvantaged children the literacy skills to succeed in life, and the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks for people locked in poverty.
Starting or growing a homeware and gifts business and need insights to becoming more sustainable?
Download a free guide to learn about industry trends, actions you can take and why investing in impact is a good move for homeware and gift businesses.
Founded by Victoria Jenkins in 2017
Victoria Jenkins founded Unhidden Clothing, which is an adaptive clothing brand specifically for people with disabilities. The socially responsible brand is leading the way in developing wearable designs that are inclusive and accessible for people with a range of needs.
Founded by Deborah Latouche in 2020
A luxury clothing brand that focuses on women who want to dress modestly and still remain fashionable.
The brand aims to limit its impact on the environment by making individual investment garments that are made to order. Each piece is made with longevity in mind, which means there is far less waste.
Deborah used her own experience of struggling to find garments that were modest, and this fuelled her motivation to create ranges that make women look and feel beautiful without the need to reveal.
Co-founded by Susanna Wen in 2014
A social enterprise that employs women who would normally face barriers to employment and pays them a living wage.
Birdsong has been supporting makers for over eight years and partners with various charities, including Stitches in Time, which provides training and employment support to women from migrant backgrounds, and MailOut, which offers people with learning disabilities opportunities for employment in fulfilment and distribution.
Founded by Sarah Jordan in 2016
Sarah founded Y.O.U Underwear to create beautifully designed, ethically manufactured and eco-friendly underwear.
The business has a buy-one-give-two promise in partnership with Smalls for All, a Scottish charity that collects and distributes underwear to vulnerable women and children in Africa and the UK. The underwear is Fairtrade, PETA-approved vegan and made from 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, and the company works with one of India’s leading ethical and sustainable manufacturers.
It’s also embraced ethical marketing, and actively promotes body positivity through brand imagery and marketing strategies.
Y.O.U Underwear stands to be the highest-scoring B Corp in the UK and the top fashion brand in the world.
Watch this webinar to find out the step-by-step process of becoming a B Corp, including the challenges and rewards:
Founded by Ayo Adedeji in 2020
The Plain Shop is a minimalist lifestyle brand that focuses on simplicity, sustainability and inclusivity. Founder Ayo called quits on his job in the financial sector to start the brand and spotted that although streetwear is worth £185 billion globally, only 4% of that is sustainable.
Knowing that he's appealing to a Millennial and Gen Z audience who are more conscious about which brands they align themselves with, Ayo went on to ensure that the clothing he produced was made of organic cotton, recycled polyester or bamboo materials.
Founded by Sunny Williams in 2011
A clothing line that produces small, sustainable ranges. House of Sunny prides itself on creating two seasonal collections a year.
This allows the design team to work at a slower pace, giving them time to research and source sustainable fabrics and develop greener manufacturing methods. It operates a pre-order model, so it doesn’t end up with extra stock.
The company also makes sure all of its product bags are 100% biodegradable, plastic-free and made from 100% compostable bio-based films. That means they’ll disintegrate completely, leaving no toxic chemicals behind, just like organic waste.
Looking to start a fashion business?
Download our free guide to learn about trends from the fashion industry, actions you can take and why investing in impact is good for fashion businesses.
Food and drink
Co-founded by Andrew Hunt and Nick Salter in 2011
An Africa-inspired health food brand and social enterprise. Aduna’s African superfoods are available as pure powders, raw energy bars and SuperTeas. Wherever possible, Aduna sources its ingredients directly from small-scale producers in Africa.
850 women in Upper East Ghana receive sustainable income flows through Aduna’s baobab supply chain, enabling them to provide basic needs for their families.
Founded by Chloe Stewart in 2016
nibs etc. is about making delicious and nourishing sustainable snacks out of ingredients that would normally be thrown away. Not only does it reduce food waste, but it allows customers to reduce their own carbon footprint.
The company also works with juice bars around London to collect ‘waste’ pulp, which is packed with flavour and fibre, and upcycle it into sustainable snacks.
Founded by Emilie and Deepak Revnidran in 2016
A sustainable fruit and vegetable box delivery service that works with farmers to supply seasonal produce at risk of going to waste.
So far, the business has rescued 2,000 tons of produce from being thrown away, all while providing fresh and varied vegetables to consumers’ doors for a reasonable price.
Oddbox also plans to further develop its technology, including a “personal impact” dashboard which allows consumers to view the amount of food waste, carbon emissions and water they’ve saved.
Founded by seven co-founders, united by Graham Bosher, the founder of LoveFilm in 2008
Graze became a B Corp in 2021 and it was especially recognised for its work in creating healthy snacks for its customers.
This was largely due to creating strict health guidelines for itself as part of its mission, with the majority of its products containing less than 150 calories per portion, actively reducing sugar content (with 160 tonnes being removed from its products since 2019), and never using unnecessary artificial ingredients.
Looking to start a food and drink business?
Download our free guide to learn about industry trends, actions you can take and why investing in impact is good for food and drink businesses.
If you're looking for further support and want to connect with like-minded small business owners who are on a sustainable mission, become a member or log in to join the Green Business networking group.