Corporate social responsibility is a concept that has been around the last couple of decades. However, brands are paying attention to it now more than at any other time in our world history. International think tanks have a pretty interesting explanation for this.
In 2015, Nielsen Global found that 73 percent of Millennials are willing to shell out extra money to patronize brands that offer environmentally sustainable products. Meanwhile, 81 percent of Millennials expect companies to publicly commit to good corporate citizenship. That’s according to Horizon Media. Finally, Cone Communications discovered that 9 in 10 Millennials would switch to a brand that’s supportive of a cause they personally believe in.
With younger generations at the receiving end of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, their preference for environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsible goods is not falling on deaf ears. Aside from doing good, companies are now on a quest to be good.
However, being good while still making profit is easier said than done. For one, going green is expensive, at least at first. It’s also cheaper to test on animals than pay for a control group composed of actual human beings. Recycling and upcycling likewise require more effort than plain and simple disposal of materials.
This is exactly why we have to consciously support brands that are willing to absorb hefty costs in order to save trees, animals, and support worthy causes. It’s not true that there is virtually nothing we can do to save the Earth from doom. As consumers, we can use our purchasing power to ensure the success of environmentally-friendly and socially responsible brands, starting off with the following big names.
We look at the different environmentally-friendly and socially responsible fashion brands by category starting with clothing.
Founded over 25 years ago, Boden has emerged as a major player in the apparel industry both in the U.S. and in the U.K. Up to this day, their commitment to responsible sourcing, recycling, and providing good working conditions for their workers is unparalleled.
One of the biggest challenges of maintaining an environment-friendly brand is having to compromise with other non-green brands on the supply chain. But Boden sets expectations pretty early when dealing with new suppliers. The company requires partners to sign their Responsible Sourcing Commitment to protect workers’ rights and to make sure their sustainable standards are being met.
From dresses to trousers to nightwear, and all the way to those handsome recycled packaging boxes they use, Boden’s products carry a promise of quality that it will last generations.
Our top pick:
- Boden’ swimwear range, which uses scooped-up ocean trash like discarded fishing nets, processed back into the perfect luxurious nylon for active wear.
It’s not everyday your clothing brand saves 2,000 trees, 400 cubic yards of landfill, and almost 900k gallons of water. Well, unless you switch to Alternative Clothing.
When you order any of their products, you will receive oxo-biodegradable mailer bags manufactured by a company that also adheres to the Fair Labor Association’s guidelines and workplace code of conduct.
Here are our top Amazon picks for the comfiest Alternative Clothing pieces, all made from 80% organic cotton:
- Alternative Men’s Rocky Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
- Alternative Women’s Day Off Burnout French Terry Hoodie
- Alternative Women’s Printed Adrian Fleece Zip-Front Hoodie
When it comes to activewear though, one brand has set the bar pretty high. Patagonia walks the talk from its reuse and recycle program by discouraging its own customers from buying too much of its products! After all, the firm has committed to manufacturing only quality sports wear that lasts a very long time, so you don’t have to hoard replacements.
It is clear that Patagonia realizes that overconsumption is the main challenge in preserving the Earth in this age of fast fashion, and is willing to forego exemplary sales at the expense of the planet.
This brand uses recycled wool, nylon, polyester and zero fur, and has received high recognition in the 2019 Ethical Fashion report for its efforts in paying living wages and empowering its workers.
Our top picks:
- Patagonia Women’s Nano-Air Vest
- Their entire men’s surfing collection
Of course, your VSCO look style guide will not be complete without makeup that can make you look good while keeping the Earth happy. Here are some of the most socially responsible and cruelty-free cosmetics currently in the market:
4. Jeffree Star
100% vegan and cruelty-free: that’s Jeffree Star’s promise the moment he launched his brand. The Youtube influencer and drag queen has since kept up with this promise.
One of the factors that make it hard for some cosmetics makers to go 100% cruelty-free is that some countries actually require animal testing before any makeup is allowed in. Jeffree Star faced the same challenge, but he decided to simply not sell his cosmetics on countries that require testing on animals. He has repeatedly been quoted as saying make up is for humans, not animals.
His prices are really steep, but we believe the following vegan options are worth the buck:
- Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson Conspiracy Palette
- Velour Lip Scrub: Blue Freeze
Aesthetically amazing website aside, Colourpop is one makeup brand that takes pride in being wallet, animal, and environment-friendly. Since launching in 2014, the company has never tested on animals, and has never used a single ingredient that is not vegan.
Colourpop does test on humans, but with full consent and pay. In fact, the company does not use its low prices as an excuse not to pay living wages. On top of this, the brand is also inclusive in carrying a wide range of shades for all skin colours, and employs models from all races, genders, and regardless of body type.
- Colourpop Fall Bundles
- Making Mauves Palette
Another guilt-free purchase for your makeup needs is e.l.f. cosmetics. Aside from not testing on animals (and not selling on countries which require it), this brand also uses 100% synthetic material and zero animal hair for any of its brushes.
They maintain such a strict commitment to staying vegan and cruelty-free, that even the endorses and influencers they get on board are required to have the same principles and beliefs.
Aside from their exhaustive makeup line, e.l.f. also has an impressive collection of skin care products, and here are our best picks:
- e.l.f coconut water sheet mask
- e.l.f. illuminating moisturizer
What if you don’t have to separately spend for quality footwear and charity donations? TOMS lets you hit those two birds with one stone. With every pair sold, TOMS helps someone in need. This is not just a marketing ploy, too, because although they sometimes donate a pair of their own shoes to someone who badly needs it, they also help with medical care, and even with the installation of water systems to far-flung areas, whenever necessary.
As if all that isn’t socially responsible enough, this shoemaker also uses recycled bottles to line its collection of heels, slip-ons, and sneakers.
Indeed, TOMS is in business to improve lives.
Everlane’s message is full of hope: We believe we can all make a difference. The company sets a good example with its commitment to radical transparency. Indeed, not one brand in the world can match the level of transparency that Everlane exhibits.
When you browse their website, each product will show an actual breakdown of its production cost, alongside with traditional retail prices. The site will also show you a comprehensive list of every factory used in the production of Everlane products, including all the materials used and the owners of these factories. You can have a walk-through on how their goods are made, and how their laborers are treated (Spoiler alert: they are all enjoying impeccable labor conditions)
Another Everlane effort that deserves praise is their Black Friday Fund, which donates a sizable amount from their holiday proceeds to a non-profit social organization like Surfrider, a group committed to protecting coastlines and cleaning up plastic from oceans.
Although all their products are of impressive quality, we managed to narrow it down to these three best picks:
- Everlane Toffee Knit Boots
- Everlane The Court Sneaker (Off-White)
- Everlane The Block Heel Sandal (Dusty Blue Lizard)
Many sources cite Veja as the world’s most sustainable shoe brand, and it’s not difficult to see why. While other brands concede that they can’t avoid using chemicals and pollutants, Veja sources raw materials from organic farms and ecological agriculture farms to make its world-class kicks.
Interestingly, one such raw material they use is fish leather– upcycled from tilapia skin that’s usually disposed of by freshwater fish farms. And when they have to source cotton and rubber, they deal straight with farmers and farmer associations, to ensure that they are getting fair prices and not getting short-changed by unscrupulous traders.
Here are some of their best vegan shoes:
- V-10 White Marsala Butter Sole
- Condor Canvas Natural White Petale
- Condor Mesh Black White
Every effort to save the planet and do good– big or small– should be applauded, so here are some honorable brand mentions
10. Cuyana Bags
Cuyana doesn’t want its customers to purchase more than one bag at a time. Their mantra is Fewer, Better. In order to prevent its leather bags ending up in landfills, each piece is created to last for years before you even have to think about replacing it. One of the main raw materials it uses is recycled cashmere.
One exciting brand to watch out for in 2020 is Levi’s, which has committed to eliminate all hazardous materials in its jeans production by this year. As it is, though, Levi’s has significantly cut down on its water and dye use in manufacturing their globally-recognizable jeans. These are all fairly new changes, which prove that old dogs can learn new tricks.
For delicate needs, Pact Apparel is the best. With its dedication to creating organic cotton underwear, bras, and loungewear, Pact has contributed to the global move to reduce emissions. Their vow is to provide sustainable fashion for all.
As a final note, we’d like to remind you that holidays comprise some of the most consumerism-heavy times of the year, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying to be responsible when Christmas rolls around. So we’d like to share with you some environmentally-friendly Christmas origami decorations you can create this year, instead of plunging head on into the Holiday rush just to end up with new, pricey ornaments that are useful during the holidays, but are pretty much junk the rest of the year.