Seven Women-Run Companies that Take Sustainability Seriously
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
In the spirit of Earth Week, we are shining a light on these global goddesses pushing the environmental envelope.
Similar to today's health crisis that we are all going through together, the environment and the globe's goodness is something we all collectively have to commit to keeping healthy. Go Green! Happy Earth Week, everyone!
As a former Victoria’s Secret Designer, Colleen Coughlin found frustration with the unbelievable amount of waste she witnessed every day at work. To reduce the amount of fashion waste produced by the apparel industry, she quit her job in 2013 to create TheFullEdit.
TheFullEdit is a Zero Waste Lifestyle Agency that assists people in organizing their homes by reducing clutter and repurposing it into stylish, eco-friendly garments. The company hosts “Upcycle with TheFullEdit” workshops across Miami and New York, where clients bring unwanted items to be recycled instead of disposing of them and creating the need to buy more for their closet.
To date, TheFullEdit has prevented 4,662 pounds of waste from entering the waste stream. However, the company does not stop at their own efforts to reduce waste. They also organize ZeroWaste awareness events and educate other business owners on how they can reduce their individual waste as well. All while making the apparel industry more sustainable, TheFullEdit has helped many clients in styling and repurposing their closets so they look and feel their best.
Lindsey & Alison Delaplaine
Owners of Plaine Products, Lindsey and Alison Delaplaine, launched their environmentally conscious company in February 2017 with a dream to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world. The birth of the company is a result of Lindsey’s experience living and working in the Bahamas for ten years. She witnessed the consequences of our disposable lifestyle first hand; plastic waste resided on the beach, in the ocean, and along the roads. Realizing that many of her bathroom products were in plastic, she recognized that she was a contributor to that waste, and decided to eliminate plastic from her lifestyle and enable others to do the same. Plaine Products replaces the traditional use of plastic in everyday products, such as shampoo and conditioner, with aluminum bottles. Customers order their choice of products, receive refills from the company when the container is low, and send back bottles when they are empty. Besides reducing plastic waste, Plaine Products contributes to lower carbon dioxide emissions by decreasing the number of plastic bottles manufactured. In 2018 alone, Plaine Products was able to prevent 11,670 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
Chloe Vichot was exposed to a sustainable lifestyle before she even understood the meaning of it as a young girl in France. Her parents emphasized the importance of many sustainable activities, from finishing her plate to shutting off the water while brushing her teeth. She never recognized how sustainable her lifestyle was in France until moving to the United States. In New York, she was shocked to see the amount of waste that came with a to-go lunch. Vichot had realized that she could transfer her sustainable lifestyle in France to New York. And thus, Ancolie was born. Ancolie strives to eliminate the amount of waste that comes with a to-go lunch by providing its menu items solely in mason jars. Even better, customers get to keep his or her jars so they can reuse it when packing future weekday lunches. These are not your ordinary mason jars, either. Ancolie provides custom-made mason jars with features that make for a more natural eating experience. While being more sustainable, customers can also enjoy Vichot’s personal touch of French-inspired cuisine in every jar.
Mary Weber Novak
What all started as the hunt for a life of leisure turned into the creation of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery, one of Napa Valley’s top sources for Cabernet Sauvignon. Mary Weber Novak moved to Napa Valley in California with her husband and children in 1972, looking to slow down her life with the purchase of a house and vineyard. After the death of her husband, Mary persevered, in the vineyard and continued selling grapes to neighbors. Hearing about how prized her fruit was, Mary hired winemaker Tony Soter and founded Spottswoode Estate. With the help of Tony, Mary began to farm the vineyard organically. It was one of the first wineries to adopt organic processes in Napa Valley. The vineyard works alongside biodynamic specialists to establish farming practices that promote a healthy ecosystem. Natural insect and weed management, clay loam soil, and the minimization of soil disturbance are just a few of the methods that Spottswoode Estate engages in to preserve the land. After achieving several highly acclaimed vintages, Mary went on to produce Spottswoode exclusive wines. Today, Mary’s daughters, Beth Novak Milliken, and Lindy Novak carry on Mary’s legacy in running the vineyard.
Previously working as an attorney in Hong Kong, founding TREE in 2005 was a big leap for Nicole Wakely. Married to a pilot, Wakely embarked on many trips to different parts of the world. In her travels, she met many artisans and craftsmen that made beautiful furniture by the work of their own hands. From witnessing this, a passion grew for wanting to provide hand-made, sustainable furniture to people around the globe. Through her knowledge and expertise, Wakely has provided beautiful furniture and décor options for all types of homes, lifestyles, and budgets. TREE combines a contemporary design, hand-craftsmanship, and responsible sourcing to create timeless furniture for customers. Giving back to the community is another value of TREE. The company is partners with Trees4Trees and Forterra, two non-profits dedicated to preserving land and forests. To date, TREE has planted over 80,000 trees globally, and that number continues to grow.
Halley Chambers is a co-owner of Rhodora, a Brooklyn wine bar and restaurant, and works alongside Henry Rich is running a restaurant with a zero-waste policy. The company engages in an endless number of tedious activities to send absolutely nothing to the landfill. Single-use plastics are neither utilized nor accepted in the restaurant. Corks from their wine bottles go to a recycling program that repurposes them into cork shoe soles and yoga blocks. Once tattered and outdated, the restaurant’s paper menus quickly become compost. All sourced products across and activities from food, beverage, and operations can be recycled, upcycled, or composted. The company does not have a traditional trash can on site. From these tedious activities, Rhodora has made a name for itself as one of the first truly 100% sustainable restaurants in the world.
Ellie Dinh is the co-founder of Girlfriend Collective, an eco-friendly activewear brand, and works alongside her husband and co-founder, Quang Dinh. The idea of the line first sparked when Ellie could not find an eco-friendly activewear brand to meet her sustainability values. Ellie and Quang envisioned more than just a brand. They envisioned building a community of women that shares the brand’s values. Girlfriend Collective makes high quality and luxurious athletic wear for women at no expense of the environment. It is made possible by the use of Econyl Yarn, a yarn made from recycled water bottles. Their LITE leggings consist of 83% of this recycled material and 17% spandex. One pair of leggings from Girlfriend Collective is the equivalent of 25 recycled water bottles. As transparency is a value to Girlfriend Collective, Ellie and Quang also emphasize disclosing the production process to their customers. This level of transparency is uncommon in the fashion industry and represents another indicator of the brand’s dedication to social responsibility.
Written by Samantha Miller