Food & Home

5 Luxury Companies Making the World a Better Place

5 Industry Disruptors Who Are Making
Everyday Items Sustainable and Beautiful

In partnership with our friends at
Avocado Green Mattress

For years, if not decades, we got used to the idea that natural and sustainable options were very…meh. We’d compromise comfort for the greater good—and it was always worth it. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t looking for more luxurious ways to be environmentally sound. Recently, however, we have seen a tipping point: More and more companies are making high-quality goods that are healthier for us—and healthier for our planet. They’re proving that not only are environmentally friendly products better than they’ve ever been; they’re usually more efficient and luxurious than their conventional counterparts.

These pioneers are doing incredible things: There’s the clothing brand turning old plastic bottles into supportive—and flattering—workout pants. There’s the female entrepreneur reinventing a bathroom staple with a regenerative resource. And there’s the couple behind the completely natural mattresses that make us sleep better at night in every possible way.

Just as impressive, each is transparent about its ingredients, processes, and practices. They’re leading by example, which sharpens our agency, too, says Alexandra D’Andrea, a cofounder of Avocado Green Mattress. We all need to “see through the greenwashing and notice the brands and products that are really making an effort to move the needle forward,” she says. So where do you start? Well, for starters, read on.

  1. Girlfriend Collective

    Finding a smarter home
    for plastic bottles.

    If you were to trace the origin of a pair of Girlfriend Collective leggings, the first stop on your trip would be Taiwan. This is where you’d see the used plastic bottles. The thousands and millions of plastic bottles. In bins on street corners and in microcenters where people sort and recycle them. (Taiwan, which used to be called Garbage Island for its waste issue, is one of the most motivated leaders in recycling efforts today.) A good lot of those bottles are headed to a facility where they’ll be sorted, cleaned, broken down, cleaned again, weighed, washed again, dried, heated, manipulated into long thin strands, reduced to pellets, reheated, and finally made into a superfine, slinky, tightly woven fabric. That fabric will go on to become some of our favorite-fitting leggings around. We’re huge fans of Girlfriend Collective’s leggings at goop HQ. They offer the perfect amount of hug and stretch and comfort and pull. So it’s pretty incredible to know they’re made of plastic bottles. (The company also makes lighter leggings from recycled fishing nets.) And every other element of the process is considered and ethical, from the OEKO-certified dyes to Girlfriend Collective’s commitment to fair wages and support.

    Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Compressive Legging, goop, $68

  2. Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Compressive Legging
    Girlfriend Collective
    High-Rise Compressive Legging
    goop, $68
  1. Nelson Naturals

    Greening how we brush
    our teeth.

    When Dana Di Ponio and Kevin Hagel launched their plastic-free oral-care products, one question kept coming up: Where’s the tube? “People could not fathom getting toothpaste from anything other than a plastic squeeze tube,” Di Ponio tells us. Fact is, toothpaste packaging is easy to take for granted. It’s often made with foils and other materials that are hard to recycle, so it’s easy to just…toss. Di Ponio and Hagel created something more sustainable with Nelson Naturals: pastes with clean ingredients—colloidal silver, hardwood xylitol, activated charcoal, peppermint essential oil—packaged in recyclable glass jars. That made them both prettier and harder to just toss them in the garbage—and this was back in 2012, before the plastic-free movement had gone mainstream. Today Nelson Naturals customers are even more committed to reducing waste. And just recently the company released its latest way to clean teeth without hurting the environment: toothpaste in tablet form, which the company says is the most eco-friendly toothpaste on the market. (There’s no liquid in the tablets, which makes them light and easy for travel.) “Toothpaste is something that everyone uses every day,” says Hagel, “so this is a great item to start your waste-reducing journey.”

    Nelson Naturals Moringa Mineral Rich Toothpaste, Nelson Naturals, $14

  2. Colloidal Silver Toothpaste
    Nelson Naturals
    Moringa Mineral Rich Toothpaste
    Nelson Naturals, $14
  1. S’well

    Making plastic bottles irrelevant.

    Visit our new goop HQ digs and you’ll find a S’well bottle on each of our desks. We like to keep one of the tall, slim, architectural bottles within arm’s reach because a) we like to stay hydrated and b) we really love this company’s mission to eradicate the plastic bottle. It started when Sarah Kauss launched the brand in 2010 with its classic seventeen-ounce stainless steel bottle. It turned out to be the perfect size that also manages to fit in every center console, cup holder, purse, and gym bag. It keeps cold water cold, hot water hot (for up to half a day), and whatever else you put in it—GOOPGLOW? a morning smoothie?—tasting exactly how it’s supposed to, with no metallic taste. Over its nearly decade-long existence, S’well has expanded its line to include more sizes that are fit for travel, commuting, and BBQs, as well as stainless steel straws. The bottles are so easy (and chic) that they’re no-brainers. But what really gets us is how the brand is making an incredible mission—to displace 100 million single-use plastic bottles by next year—accessible to every one of us.

    S’well Geode Rose Traveler, S’well, $35

  2. S'well Geode Rose Traveler
    Geode Rose Traveler
    S’well, $35

    Making it easier to sleep well.

    Alexandra and Jeff D’Andrea, the cofounders of Avocado Green Mattress, make mattresses that look like regular mattresses. But ask for a few details and you quickly learn there’s nothing regular about them. “We follow a farm-to-bedroom approach in manufacturing,” says Alexandra. “We start with sustainably harvested natural latex sap, which is then steam-baked and transformed into latex foam.” They combine that with 100 percent GOTS-certified organic wool and cotton to make a mattress that is sustainable, clean, and healthy. For the married cofounders, the use of only natural and organic materials in their mattresses “was critical,” says Alexandra. The two launched Avocado Green Mattress after they learned how prevalent toxic conventional mattresses are and how virtually nonexistent sustainable, healthy mattresses are. They searched for clean, no-VOCs, natural. They found polyurethane, flame retardants, and PVC.

    So in 2016, they put their organic, natural mattress out into the world. “Old habits can be difficult to break, especially in today’s world, where it’s so easy to make impulse purchases online without considering the true impact of our decisions,” says Alexandra. To that end, the mattresses—which are made in California—are available online direct-to-consumer to allow for a more accessible price point. The company also produces pillows, mattress toppers and protectors, and furniture—all created in the same eco-conscious manner. (Avocado Green Mattress offsets its carbon emissions by partnering with Carbonfund and investing in conservation efforts.) “We ultimately hope to help redefine luxury to mean not just high quality but also high standards for sustainability, ecology, and social responsibility.”

    Avocado Green Mattress, Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $959; Avocado Green Mattress ORGANIC COTTON MATTRESS PAD PROTECTOR, Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $199; AVOCADO GREEN Mattress NATURAL LATEX MATTRESS TOPPER, Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $349

  2. Avocado Green Mattress
    Avocado Green Mattress
    Avocado Green Mattress
    Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $959
    Avocado Green Mattress
    Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $199 Shop now
    Avocado Green Mattress
    Avocado Green Mattress, starting at $349 Shop now
  1. No. 2

    Cleaning up the bathroom.

    We want our toilet paper to be soft, do its job, and go away. But this mentality is causing great environmental damage, says Samira Far. Our worldwide use of toilet paper—which America reportedly leads—is depleting the forests where the raw materials are sourced. (Pulp production for Americans’ toilet paper is threatening the boreal forest in Canada, according to the National Resources Defense Council.) Our demand for fluffy tree pulp is why Far founded No. 2, a company that makes sustainable toilet paper from bamboo, a natural material that “has a great long-term impact,” she says. Bamboo is incredibly regenerative: Its forests can mature in anywhere between three and six years versus the two to five decades it can take for trees (and some trees never regrow after clear-cut harvesting). Bamboo releases more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than other plants. And it’s “a better experience” overall, says Far. It’s silky, it’s very strong, and it doesn’t leave any of that lint residue that conventional toilet paper often does. (We tried it. We concur.) Far says No. 2 is a simple switch for those of us who want to make informed, smarter purchases but can get distracted because “not all eco-friendly products are easy to implement” or have a comparable level of quality to conventional choices. “It’s one thing we can do when we can’t do it all,” she says. We’d be remiss not to mention one of our favorite details: Each roll comes packaged in a bright, colorful wrapper (made of recycled paper, of course).

    No. 2 Toilet Paper, No. 2, $34 for 24 rolls

  2. No.2 Toilet Paper
    No. 2
    Toilet Paper
    No. 2, $34 for 24 rolls