In a year that’s seen a deadly pandemic grip the globe, the climate crisis also sparked a cascade of calamities – from floods in Jakarta to wildfires in Australia, and record-breaking temperatures in Antarctica, Earth Day couldn’t be a more relevant initiative.
Honoured annually on 22 April, Earth Day was established in 1970 with the aim of bringing people together from around the globe in support of the environment to raise awareness of pollution and highlight how important clean air and water is.
Above all, it places a spotlight on the urgency of how desperately we need action and change in the face of the climate emergency.
Offering an important opportunity to encourage world leaders to commit to making positive steps to tackling the crisis, this year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth”.
This focuses on how we can reduce our impact on the planet, as well as how we might be able to actively repair the world’s ecosystems through green technology and natural processes.
US president Joe Biden has invited leaders to address the climate emergency as he begins his virtual world leaders summit.
As for how you can take part, there is a host of online events taking place as well as a toolkit that details guidance on everything from how to organise a beach clean-up to the other eco campaigns currently running.
Beyond this, we’d always recommend reading books about the climate emergency, because, after all, knowledge is power. You can also do your bit by making small lifestyle swaps and opting to shop with brands that are doing good.
So, in honour of Earth Day 2021, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite sustainable brands across fashion and homeware to help you on your quest to enjoy a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Sustainable homeware brands
On a mission to reduce the amount of plastic packaging from household cleaning products, Clean Living is all about providing you with eco-friendly alternatives. The premise is simple – the bottles are aluminium and are delivered empty, along with a sachet, which can be returned for recycling – simply add water and the sachet to the bottle and you’re good to go. According to our writer, who reviewed the brand for our guide to the best refillable household products, “all products are 100 per cent natural, as effective as anything you’d buy in the supermarket and many contain live cultures that naturally break down dirt”.
Although largely made from cardboard, disposable cups are lined with plastic polyethene to make them waterproof. As such, coffee cups cannot be recycled at standard recycling plants, contributing to the plastic problem. For a simple solution, turn to KeepCup, a brand taking environmental responsibility seriously. A member of 1% for the Planet, it donates at least 1 per cent of global revenue to environmental causes.
Calling all cat owners – if you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to your cat litter, this is the brand to know. Made from 100 per cent PEFC-certified recycled wood materials, the litter is not only biodegradable but the brand claims it’s also highly absorbent. To make sure its model is fully circular, as part of its collect and compost service it has partnered with a recycling centre and collects the litter, trays and bags.
Female-founded, eco-conscious candle brand Selfmade launched in lockdown when founder Ricki Lawal taught herself to make candles during her free time. All candles are hand-poured using soy wax and essential oils and 5 per cent of profits are donated to Black Minds Matter, a charity connecting Black individuals and families to free mental health services. If that’s not enough to persuade you to shop, there are even seeds in the label so you can give your glass jar a new lease of life. We love the sound of the boujie candle (£25, Selfmadecandle.com) with a blend of orange, ylang-ylang and cedarwood.
A curated collection of the best homeware items from eco-friendly and ethical brands, Wearth is on a mission to help make sustainable interior accessories more affordable for all. Championing UK labels and makers, it’s become our go-to.
Possibly one of the most well-known toilet roll brands, Who Gives A Crap uses recycled paper or fast-growing bamboo in its products and donates 50 per cent of its profits to help build toilets for the 2 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to proper sanitation. This brand really does give a crap, and our editor was so impressed, she even a wrote an ode to the brand, heralding it as a “game changer”.
Handmade in the Cotswolds using local beeswax, The Beeswax Wrap Co. creates reusable and plastic-free alternatives to cling film and sandwich bags. The company pays its employees a living wage and provides them with a range of benefits, such as paid volunteering days. It’s also a certified B Corporation (arguably the creme de la créme of eco-credentials), which aims to make it easier for mission-driven companies to have a more positive impact on the planet and its people. Be sure to check out its latest collaboration with homeware brand Emma Bridgewater.
Founded in 2002, when single-use plastic bags were still de rigueur, Turtle Bags was on a mission to raise awareness of the hazards of plastics and sell sustainable alternatives. Not only does it work with fairtrade partners, but it also donates 10 per cent of its profits to the Marine Conversation Society. If you’re looking for a new bag for life, turn to this organic long-handed string bag (£7, Turtlebags.co.uk), which comes in a range of bright colours.
Sustainable fashion brands
A firm favourite when it comes to footwear, Allbirds has been paving the way for comfortable yet environmentally friendly shoes since it was founded in 2016. With full transparency, from measuring its carbon footprint to documenting each stage of the supply chain, this is a brand that’s doing good –you really will tread more lightly on the planet in a pair of these. For more on the brand, read our review of the Allbirds running shoes to learn how good they really are.
Founded by pole vault champion David Gordon in 2006, this UK-based brand creates sustainable bamboo clothing that is “inspired by the planet and designed for adventure”. Bam has set the bar high and is challenging itself to achieve a carbon footprint of zero by 2030, along with zero waste to landfill, zero pollution and zero wasted water. It’s also taken part in Fashion Revolution Week’s “who made my clothes” campaign, amplifying the voices and stories from its supply chains.
The first and only eyewear brand in the UK to become a certified B Corp, Bird seeks out the best sustainable materials to create its premium frames. Owing to its partnership with SolarAid, every pair of glasses purchased will help distribute solar light to families in Malawi and Zambia.
Challenging the idea that sustainable fashion needs to be expensive, Omnes launched in 2020 and everything is responsibly sourced and accessibly priced. With clear transparency across the supply chain and everything made to the highest environmental standards, every stage of the production process is meticulously researched and monitored. We are such a big fan of the brand, it came out top of our review of the best women’s ethical fashion pieces for £50 and under. And we’ve got our eye on this floral, square-neck, tiered maxi dress (£75, Omnes.com) – it looks like the perfect number for wearing all summer long.
One of our favourite sustainable denim brands, Nudie Jeans is making waves thanks to its ability to produce high-quality jeans that are kind to the planet and its people. Offering full transparency on every stage of its supply chain, from where the materials are sourced to the manufacturing process, it’s leading by example. If you’re looking to invest in a new denim skirt or pair of jeans, this is the brand to know. It even took the top spot in our review of the best women’s sustainable denim brands, so you can trust its clothing is a worthy investment.
Making waves during lockdown, this brand’s collection of sustainable loungewear topped just about everyone’s wishlists after its joggers and sweaters appeared all over social media. It uses recycled and eco-friendly fabrics, including those made from plastic bottles with natural botanical dyes, in its items and each order is delivered in compostable packaging. A brand to know when it comes to basics, we’ve got our eye on its T-shirt (£67, Thepangaia.com) made from 20 per cent seaweed and 80 per cent organic cotton.
A pioneer when it comes to sustainable outdoor wear, this Californian brand was named a UN Champion of the Earth in 2019 – the UN’s top environmental honour – for its entrepreneurial vision. Donating 1 per cent of annual sales to grassroots environmental groups as part of its self-imposed “earth tax”, its efforts don’t go unnoticed. Patagonia has also launched a new campaign in the UK and EU titled “We the Power”, urging people to support renewable energy projects in the community.
Focusing on sustainable, gender-neutral clothing basics, this brand wants to make conscious consumerism the norm, sourcing and using recycled materials. We’ve got our eye on the recycled cashmere polo top (£285, Riley.studio), which is a true wardrobe staple.
With its slow approach to sustainable style, Tala is on a mission to produce activewear and loungewear that’s kind to the planet, its people and your pocket. Offering complete transparency across every aspect of the supply chain, each piece is made using either recycled plastic bottles or upcycled or recycled yarn, including factory off-cuts. On a social level, it ensures employee health and safety, good working conditions and living wages.
Another footwear favourite, there’s no denying that global footwear and lifestyle brand Toms is on a mission to do better. Take its philanthropic efforts, for example – its widely known “one for one” programme was the first of its kind and was seen as a revolutionary move within the industry.
Founded in 2019, Trash Planet is on a mission to disrupt the fashion industry by producing a range of sustainable trainers. All its sneakers are made from 100 per cent vegan and up to 75 per cent recycled materials, while 15 trees are planted for every pair purchased. This brand is still in its infancy, so it really is one to watch.
Sustainable beauty brands
Founded on the belief that essential oils can impact our physical and emotional wellbeing, this brand has created products and treatments that abide by its ethos. Prioritising diversity throughout the business, it uses 100 per cent renewable energy in its headquarters, and it has recently become a certified B Corp. We can wholeheartedly recommend the brand’s deep relax bath and shower oil (£69, Aromatherapyassociates.com) for a truly calming experience.
Global beauty brand Aesop formulates products for all your skincare, hair and body needs using plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients. With the Leaping Bunny certification, the products are vegan and never tested on animals. It’s a go-to of ours for its deodorant (£23, Aesop.com), which landed a spot in our review of the best natural deodorants, with our writer noting that it’s “light and refreshing”.
Leading the way for sustainable period products, Dame launched the first reusable tampon applicator (£23.80, Boots.com), which has saved more than 2.5 million single-use ones from being thrown away. Constantly striving for change, it supports women’s health and is helping to fight against period poverty. Plus, its tampons are made from GOTS-certified organic cotton.
The world’s first zero-waste beauty brand, Ethique uses 100 per cent sustainably sourced ingredients that are vegan, cruelty-free and paraben- and sulphate-free. And that’s not all – it’s a certified B Corp, so it pays a living wage to its employees and donates 20 per cent of its profits to environmental causes. If you’re in need of a new shampoo, this bar (£12, Ethique.co.uk) is the one to try thanks to its scalp-nourishing properties.
Friendly to the planet and its inhabitants, from its ethically sourced ingredients to reusable packaging, Lush is leading the way on issues of sustainability and plastic pollution. Our favourite product? It’s got to be this deep sleep bath bomb (£5.95, Lush.com), which is as relaxing as it sounds.
Taking the top spot in our round-up of the best circular beauty brands, UpCircle repurposes ingredients from a variety of industries, including coffee and tea. As for its packaging, the brand is 99 per cent plastic-free and everything is made from recycled and recyclable materials. In the review, our writer heralded the cleansing balm (£18.99, Hollandandbarrett.com) thanks to its spa-like smell.
Leading the way for natural deodorants, Wild has an impressive range of eco-credentials, notably the fact its plastic-free refills are made from bamboo pulp, making them compostable. Heralded as the “the chicest and glossiest product” in our round-up of the best natural deodorants, our writer praised the fact you can choose from five different colour packages, all of which are made using sustainable materials, and five different scents. We’ve got our eye on the pink aluminium case and cotton and sea salt fragrance (£25, Wearewild.com), which our writer noted as being “genuinely one of the loveliest we have ever smelt”.
This brand has been striving for good since it was first founded in 1976. Initiatives include “forever against animal testing”; “community trade”, the brand’s independently verified fair-trade programme that helps to improve the livelihood of its partners and invest in social and environmental projects that benefit their communities; and “plastics for change”, The Body Shop’s commitment to tackling the plastic crisis by using recycled materials from India. Take it from us, its skincare products are as good as its ethical credentials – we love the new coconut body butter (£18, Thebodyshop.com), which comes in recyclable packaging.
This vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand was founded to demystify the beauty industry by providing you with simple, straight-talking products. Typology’s offering covers seven ranges, including moisturisers, lip care, hair and perfumes, and we can vouch for the caffeine and niacinamide eye cream (11.80, Typology.com) after it received rave reviews in our guide to the best eye serums.
This ingredient-focused skincare brand produces its products in small batches in Norfolk. Q+A is 98 per cent natural, free from artificial fragrances, cruelty-free and mostly vegan, and its main focus is on science and efficacy. With none of its products costing more than £10, it’s considered a more natural version of The Ordinary.
Want to discover more? Read our round-up of the sustainable fashion brands you need on your radar