Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California…
The Earth is home to over 7 billion people. Regardless of which part we come from, it’s everyone’s home. So, it’s probably a good idea to take care of it. However, not everyone experiences life on this planet with the same opportunities for a clean neighborhood, access to fresh food, and governments that support environmental safety.
April is Earth month and spotlights Earth Day on the 22nd. While it’s a day typically focused on doing activities that celebrate the environment, people often “suddenly forget” about their ecological endeavors as soon as the month is over. Earth day is a fad, not a lifestyle. From TikTok to themed Earth day activities that last a day, people are interested in the idea of being situational environmental advocates. This form of slacktivism needs to change.
Indigenous tribes had their lands colonized and, in turn, their colonizers created a culture of capitalism that oppresses Black and brown communities. In America alone, countless neighborhoods and cities are facing environmental racism. One-day activism isn’t enough to make a change.
The same goes for saving the bees, which pollinate the crops that provide us food. It’s vital to make saving the world a regular thing from the neighborhoods of color to the flora and fauna that inhabit the Earth. We’ve compiled 5 sustainable brands that have products that can help readers get started on their journey to build a better planet.
Each of these brands has a mission that goes beyond money and puts profit toward the causes that need them most.
Shea Yeleen is all about ensuring “skincare meets impact.” While creating exceptional skincare is the goal, so is empowering women around the world. Founder, Rahama Wright believes in clean beauty with fair trade shea butter while also pledging to use every purchase toward the financial empowerment of Ghanian women. From safe housing to helping over 268 children access education, Wright is on a mission to use her brand for a change. Her new Shea Yeleen Shea Butter Body Care Bundle is available on Beautyologie for $45. It includes a full-sized Lemon Verbena Pure Shea Body Balm, Coconut Melon Rich Shea Body Cream, and Lemongrass Clean Shea Bar Soap, which are all fair trade and ethically sourced.
This is a new brand focusing on how we as people have things “in common,” specifically a passion for supporting the common good. For them, this means working together to change the way we look at clothing. Their goal is to create clothing through better manufacturing, fair-wage employment, sustainable fabrics, and modern design. In Common even uses compostable mailers and bio compostable poly bags to make sure every part of the process is environmentally sound.
Combining better clothing with activism is key for their brand. They use 20% of their proceeds from the Saffron and Mineral Blue styles for donations to the World Central Kitchen (WCK) to help Ukraine. The WCK provides millions of meals to families in Ukraine and offers a safe haven amidst the dangers of the Russian invasion. They’ve also partnered with One Tree Planted to help populate areas with trees to support ecosystems. One of the best things about In Common is that they ask for suggestions about any and all possible partnerships that may align with their overall ethos.
Alaffia has made it a mission to take on social change in Africa on all ends, including health, education, maternal care, and environmental support. Fairtrade products are vital to making that happen with products like their new Chebe Deep Conditioning Mask for $about $10 at Target and more. The proceeds for quality products go toward material change.
While founder, Olowo-n’djo Tchala, has introduced many Empowerment Projects, their latest initiative is a partnership with Sista Midwife Productions, which is a birth advocacy organization that provides consultations with birth workers for Black families with children. They focus on education, training, and higher Black infant-mother survival rates. A portion of Alaffia’s proceeds is donated to the organization amongst others.
Not everyone realizes that birth care is inherently linked to environmental justice, as the environment in which pregnant women, infants, and families live impacts their short and long-term health. For Sista Midwife, “birth is a revolution,” and they need as many doulas and birth workers helping as possible.
When it comes to honoring the intersections between saving the planet and saving the disproportionately oppressed, Girlfriend Collective has us covered. Their overall mission is to provide eco-friendly clothing and use the proceeds to go toward important causes, like the Black Lives Matter movement and turning old water bottles into clothes.
In fact, they have leggings made out of recycled fishing nets and tees that are 100% cupro, which is made out of cotton waste. Their clothing is manufactured in Vietnam under the Social Accountability International standard that ensures workers are treated and paid fairly while working in ethical working conditions.
Their Regirlfriend program actually collects old Girlfriend Collective leggings and recycles them into new clothing items, that way, their leggings can be used forever without contributing to landfills. This kind of upcycling is how a single purchase can become a regular lifestyle of rejecting wastefulness.
We can’t help but smile when hearing about this eco-friendly Black woman-owned brand that’s all about rejecting colorism in the beauty industry. The Lip Bar was founded by Melissa Butler. Its mission of having a variety of 100% vegan and cruelty-free lip products that cater to many skin shades, not just the lighter ones.
The brand’s motto is to offer “maximum impact” with “minimal effort” for customers wanting gorgeous looks without giving up very much energy and time. One of their standout products is the Bawse Lady liquid matte, which comes in many shades for only $13. They also sell bronzer, eyeliner, mascara, blush, and eyeshadow palettes.
While brands are certainly not enough to solve the environmental issues that impact our daily lives, these businesses are advocating and supporting larger-scale initiatives that are doing everything they can to protect the Earth. With groups like East Yard: Communities for Environmental Justice and The Sunrise Movement protesting for policy protection for everyone, especially those most oppressed, there is so much work to be done. Every day is an opportunity to make a collective change that extends beyond a trend.
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.