“Many small people, in many small places, do small things, that can alter the face of the world.”
If you take a moment to truly consider the statement above, you’ll quickly come to realize that some of the greatest changes were born from small but effective initiatives and, yes, even “small” people.
One name that immediately comes to mind, of course, is Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish activist who initiated the “school strike for the climate” movement known as Fridays for Future. She is one of many teenagers around the world who has taken the fight against climate change upon herself by making healthy lifestyle choices – reducing her carbon footprint and air travel, giving up meat, etc. – and using her platform to spread her message.
Greta, who has been named a “next generation leader” by Time magazine, is a great example of how one strong voice can inspire hundreds and thousands of people to make better choices. Her motto remains and has become the title of her collection of climate action speeches: No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.
People around the world are finally waking up to the importance of sustainability – in our food, clothes, living situations and all lifestyle choices – and many interesting and promising initiatives have come to light through this fight for serious change. From the “do-good dude” who is promoting a sustainable diet through permaculture, to the Living Big in a Tiny House channel on YouTube presenting alternative living arrangements – these brands are changing the way we look at the world and our own lifestyle choices.
Let’s take a look at five super inspiring brands and initiatives who are fighting for sustainability across the globe.
Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa/UK)
Though Sindiso Khumalo initially studied architecture at the University of Cape Town, it was her move to London that ultimately inspired her to focus on the two things she feels most passionate about: fashion and empowerment. Upon completing her Masters in Design for Textile Futures, Khumalo started creating her own textile designs using collage techniques and water colours, most of which are reminiscent of her Zulu and Ndebele heritage. She works closely with an NGO in developing handmade textiles, allowing her to support and empower her local, South African communities. Her designs were recently featured in IKEA’s Överallt collection.
Rob Greenfield (USA)
As already mentioned above, Rob Greenfield, the adventurer, activist and humanitarian who has shocked the world into committing to important changes through attention-grabbing video campaigns, has often been referred to as the “do-good dude”. In his early twenties, his mission was clear: to become a millionaire by the time he hit 30. As his awareness surrounding the social and environmental issues of his generation steadily grew however, he decided to follow a different path in life: one that would make him happier, healthier and in tune with nature. He started with small, attainable changes: shopping locally, using his bike more, eating organically, etc. and sharing his experiences through his website and YouTube channel.
Upon realizing he was garnering a positive response from his followers – many of which followed in his footsteps and started creating small changes in their own local environments – Rob upped the ante and started setting himself serious, annual challenges to set important examples: in 2013, he cycled 7, 600 across America on a bamboo bicycle, to encourage Americans to bike more; in 2014, he spent an entire year showering only in natural water sources such as waterfalls, lakes, rivers and the rain to make a statement about the amount of water we consume each day; in the same year, he lived solely on food he precured from “dumpster diving”. One of his most shocking campaigns to date, was “Trash Me” – a zero waste project that saw him wearing every piece of trash he created daily – roughly 4.5 pounds – for thirty days.
Tushy & THINX (Canada)
Miki Agrawal, the author of Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business and Live Happily Ever After and Disrupt-her: A Manifesto for the Modern Woman, practices what she preaches: she is a modern woman forever doing cool sh*t. After working as an investment banker for three years, Agrawal decided there were three things she wanted to accomplish in life: to play a sport professionally, to work on a film and to start her own business. It was her entrepreneurial spirit that ultimately won out, and by 2011 she teamed up with her twin sister Radha, to found THINX, a line of “period panties”, alongside their friend Antonia Saint Dunbar. THINX are anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, absorbent and leak resistant panties that offer a sustainable, eco-friendly and healthy alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products.
Agrawal’s creative, eco-conscious approach to business didn’t stop with THINX. She soon went on to work with TUSHY, a bidet attachment that encourages people to “stop wiping your butt, start washing with TUSHY” and “change your world in 10 minutes”. The company’s website states: “It takes 437 billion gallons of water, 253, 000 tons of bleach, and 15 million trees to make toilet paper annually – it takes just 1 pint of water to properly wash with TUSHY.” This is not the only reason Agrawal and her colleagues are calling on people to change their toilet-going habits: toilet paper and wet wipes also contribute to the 30 million annual cases of UTIs, yeast infections, hemorrhoids, etc. – i.e. making the switch to TUSHY could relieve any ailments you are currently suffering from.
Shea Moisture (Sierra Leone/USA)
Any woman with curly hair – particularly afro or textured curls – knows just how challenging it can be to find the right product that will bring the bounce back to damaged or dry hair. Curly and afro hair is prone to dryness and breakage and, as such, needs moisturizing, natural ingredients to keep it healthy, hydrated and beautiful. Finding the right product can be a nightmare, as most hair and beauty products are packed with harmful ingredients such as drying alcohols, sulphates etc. This is why so many curly haired and black women turn to Shea Moisture, a brand of homemade hair and skin preparations that dates back to Sierra Leone in 1912. Sofi Tucker, the legend behind Shea Moisture, first started selling her homemade preparations when she was just nineteen years old.
Sofi Tucker’s legacy lives on thanks to her grandchildren, who continue to produce natural, sustainable goodness free of parabens, mineral oil, formaldehyde, petroleum and phthalates. Only using the best, carefully selected ingredients for their products, you can rest assured that Shea Moisture’s potent salves, creams and conditioners stimulate, soothe and surprise all the senses.