Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
Sustainable brands from a Gen Z perspective
By Cheyenne Desrosiers & Hanna Goldstein
We live in a time where there are great concerns about the future of our planet, given the many environmental issues. From the anti-straw movement, to emphasis on reusable bags and recycling, to beach clean ups, 94% of Gen Z consumers believe that companies should help address social and environmental issues. While the little things do matter, companies are largely responsible for the 8 million metric tons of plastic that enter our oceans every year.
While some companies are evolving to match consumer values and lower their plastic pollution, sustainable startups are rising to prominence and filling gaps in the market. By holding themselves accountable and using innovation to become more sustainable, these companies are setting an example that other brands can learn from:
Ethique is a zero-waste beauty brand that is innovating away from traditional plastic packaging. Ethique’s shampoo, conditioner, and body wash products are in “bar” form, which eliminates all of the typical plastic packaging that comes with these products. Instead, the products are packaged in cardboard, which can be recycled or composted.
Bakeys is an all-natural, biodegradable, and edible alternative to single-use plastic cutlery. Made from a healthy blend of sorghum, rice, and wheat, Bakeys prevents toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals from leaching into our food and environment. Instead of disposing of the cutlery after one use, users can consume the utensil or let it biodegrade naturally.
Seventh Generation remodeled its detergent bottles to be made of 70% recycled cardboard and 30% recycled newspaper. The bottles can be recycled and reused approximately seven times, and the detergent is held in a plastic pouch inside the bottle, which can be recycled or composted afterward, resulting in zero waste.
Myro is a company that offers refillable deodorants that are 100% recyclable, plant-based, and cruelty-free. The containers, made using 50% less
plastic than standard deodorants, can be refilled with Myro’s renewably sourced, vegetable-derived deodorant pods, keeping unnecessary plastic
out of landfills.
Notpla is a unique algae-based packaging company that’s engineered by scientists at Skipping Rocks Lab to, as the company’s tagline claims, “make [plastic] packaging disappear.” Their packaging is 100% edible, as it is made from brown seaweed, and it is also able to biodegrade naturally in 4–6 weeks. This alternative to plastic packaging helps prevent centuries of waste and contamination.
Gen Z consumers expect more of brands than previous generations, especially when it comes to aligning with their values and using action to gain trust and loyalty. Companies hold a brunt of the responsibility for lowering plastic production, and the ones that take these changes seriously will be greatly rewarded. Given that 89% of Gen Z would rather buy from a company supporting social and environmental issues over one that does not, companies need to embrace this moment of change with a commitment to bettering themselves and reducing their contributions to ocean plastic pollution.
Brands can’t be all talk: Gen Z is here, and we’re expecting brands to make real change.