Sustainability literally starts at home, so here are the groundbreaking lifestyle brands building a brighter future for people and the planet this year
Figuring out how to make your home a little greener can feel overwhelming. Sure, you can replace standard light bulbs with LEDs and install a smart thermostat, like those offered by Nest or Hive. But once you start thinking about larger investments, such as solar panels, replacing windows and switching wood fires for electric iterations, ‘going green’ starts adding up – and it can be hard to know where to put your money first.
Luckily, there are lots of small ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home, and in the garden, too. From choosing eco-friendly paint to investing in an at-home composter. Cue the Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards 2022 winners in the Homes and Lifestyle category…
Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards 2022 Homes and Lifestyle winners
Best for carbon footprint
Winner: Earthly Biochar
Biochar (pronounced bio-char) is a brilliant soil improver and offers a method of carbon capture that anyone can do, meaning it has the potential not only to help plants grow better and stronger, but also to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Launched in 2018, Earthly Biochar is the UK’s leading supplier and it’s on a mission to make biochar more accessible to all. As well as scaling up the production of biochar in the UK – so everyone from landscapers to amateur gardeners can easily source it and reduce their carbon footprint – Earthly Biochar has designed and produced a unique biochar kiln, so people can also make their own biochar.
Ally Head, health, sustainability & relationships editor at Marie Claire UK and Sustainability Awards judge says: “A company at the start of something great, Earthly Biochar is a brilliant concept – a soil improver that captures carbon and turns gardens, flowerbeds and house plants into ‘carbon sinks’? Neat.”
Highly commended: COAT Paints
Best for eco-friendly materials and design
With the exception of steel springs, all the ingredients that go into a Naturalmat product are 100% natural, organic where possible, and from a sustainable resource that is harvested according to Fairtrade principles. Each mattress is made by hand in Devon and is designed to last. Its Mattress for Life initiative offers customers the option to refurbish, recycle or donate their mattresses when the time comes – making Naturalmat the first mattress brand in the UK to offer such a service, and representing a huge step in its quest to become a fully circular business.
“Naturalmat’s historic and personal goals of sustainability showcase how innovative sustainable thinking can be a driving force from the onset of a company. The way Naturalmat supports the local community also drives the UN’s Global Goal 11,” says Sujata Burman, digital editor at London Design Festival and our Sustainability Awards judge.
Best progress towards circularity for homes
Winner: Bower Collective
Founded with a clear vision to eliminate plastic waste and create a more sustainable world, certified B Corp Bower Collective makes sustainable home and personal care products from natural, cruelty-free ingredients – all packaged in reusable and recyclable refill pouches.
Plus, each Bower Collective order arrives with a pre-paid returns envelope, so the pouches can be reused and properly recycled. To date, this has allowed the company to save more than 20,292kg of plastic waste from landfills. The label also donates to protect 1m² of endangered seagrass through its partnership with the Marine Conservation Society and is on track to be carbon-negative by the end of 2022.
“I love Bower Collective,” says Head. “A certified B Corp and 2021 MC Sustainability Awards winner, they go above and beyond to ensure all aspects of the business are sustainable, from reusable and recyclable refill pouches to the pre-paid returns envelope they send to make sure you properly recycle through their closed-loop packaging system. Fun fact: their world-first circular packaging solution means they refill the same packaging up to 10 times.”
Best progress towards circularity for kids
Winner: The TOY Project
By reducing waste, preventing products from going to landfill, and recycling unwanted toys, The TOY Project is on a recycling mission – and giving toys to children who really need them in the process.
The initiative also raises money to gift toys to children, families, communities and organisations in need, including hospitals, libraries and schools.
“A genuinely sustainable and ethical business that champions a truly circular approach and encourages parents and customers to totally reconsider their attitude to toy consumption. It’s great to see a toy business so committed to changing attitudes and abandoning the ‘throw away’ attitude so prevalent in this industry,” says Sunil Makan, Marie Claire editor and Sustainability Awards judge.
Best sustainable home tech/gadget
Winner: The Wiser System
More than 50% of each home’s fuel bill is often used for heating the space and generating hot water, so looking at new ways of controlling this can have a big impact on your bills. Cue Wiser – a smart multi-room heating system that presents a great long-term investment by only heating the rooms you’re using. It also features clever smart modes such as Eco and Away Mode, which work out the most economical way to run your heating and reduce temperatures when your home is empty, enabling you to set budgets and control spending.
Hannah Cox, founder of betternotstop and The Better Business Network, plus a MC Sustainability Awards judge, says: “The cost of living crisis and rising energy prices make this a good idea for those that want to measure and mitigate in the coming years.”
Highly commended: Miele G 7000 Dishwasher
Best green innovation for home/garden
Using compost is one of the key cornerstones of gardening – it enriches the soil, retains moisture and reduces the need for chemical fertiliser. However, making compost is often considered to be complex and time-consuming. Enter: the new Hozelock EasyMix 2-in-1 Composter.
Designed with sustainability in mind, the EasyMix 2-in-1 Composter is manufactured using 90% recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, so you can compost kitchen and garden waste, help prevent food waste from being sent to landfills, and improve soil quality safe in the knowledge you’re not also adding to the problem. Suitable for a range of garden sizes, this quick-to-compost hero product also features a lockable lid to help prevent any pests and unpleasant smells.
A fan of its seriously impressive functionality, COO and co-founder of COAT Paints, Rob Green, calls it “the simple solution to composting; everyone should have one”.
Highly commended: Methven UK Aio Shower System
Best eco-friendly decorating brand
Winner: COAT Paints
COAT is proudly championing a new way to paint that’s simple, eco-conscious, and rooted in doing right. Unlike most paints produced, the entire COAT range is entirely water-based, ultra-low VOC (2g/L), odour-free and vegan.
Operating off a unique zero-waste system, COAT paint is made to order and offers recyclable ‘Peel & Stick’ swatches, which are 95% less wasteful than a traditional tester pot, using just 8ml of paint to make. Its packaging is completely recyclable, too (even the aluminium tin) and the brand offers a 360-degree-recycling programme to ensure customers can return empty tins or leftover paint for reprocessing.
“COAT isn’t just a carbon-neutral paint brand but a regenerative company – I really rate that its aim is to contribute more to the world than it takes. The company’s smart solutions make its carbon-neutral offering seem almost effortless (though I’ve no doubt it isn’t). It’s also the first certified Climate Positive paint company in the UK and is now B-Corp pending, too,” says Head.
Highly commended: YesColours
Best sustainable stationery
Winner: Cadeaux Paperworks
Contrary to popular belief, most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. So, in February 2020, Cadeaux Paperworks was born as an agent of change in the single-use paper industry. The goal? To help the public understand the harm non-recyclable paper does to the environment, whilst providing them with fun, well-designed, sustainable alternatives. After all, just because a product is sustainable and good for the environment doesn’t mean that it must be brown, bland and boring.
“A fun, innovative and eco-friendly brand committed to making sustainability more exciting, Cadeaux offers end-to-end wrapping paper, notebooks and more with the earth in mind. I love that all suppliers are UK-based, all products are packaged in a recyclable or compostable way, and that the company is proving it is possible for businesses like this to become the norm and not the exception,” says Head.
Highly commended: Papier
Best platform for good
Launched in December 2020, WaterBear is the first network of its kind: a free, interactive video and digital platform dedicated to the future of the planet, while supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Available in 194 countries via waterbear.com, the app, Apple TV, Roku and Samsung TV Plus, WaterBear has built a network of more than 140 NGOs and partners, given members access to more than 300 campaigns, produced 36 impact films and 20 WaterBear Original Productions, plus curated more than 1,000 award-winning documentaries.
WaterBear’s ethos is built around the increasing need for sustainability, food procurement, and less energy usage and waste. It champions cost-effectiveness, minimal travel, local talent, and a focus on unearthing untold stories. Unsurprisingly, it is also in the process of becoming a B Corp.
“WaterBear is essentially Netflix but for eco-docs and founded by Oscar-winning documentary maker My Octopus Teacher’s Ellen Windemuth,” says Head. “Not only are you educating yourself by choosing to stream on the platform, but you’re also encouraging sustainable practice in the film and TV industry, too. The company strives to make all originals Albert-certified, encouraging the global industry to reduce the impact of production.”
Best for eco-friendly cleaning
Winner: Toilet Fizzies
Georgia Cleary set up Toilet Fizzies in 2020 during the first national lockdown to create an eco-cleaning alternative to the existing products that use harsh chemicals. A Toilet Fizzie is a cube-shaped version of a bath bomb, specially designed for use in your toilet. Now suppling almost 30 refill shops and online eco stores, as well as retailing from her own website, all the packaging is plastic-free and recyclable.
Sustainability expert, author, speaker and MC Sustainability Awards judge Ashlee Piper says: “I like the idea and have seen it gain traction over the past few years. I really appreciate that all of her ingredients are sourced from the same county and that she hand-delivers items to local shops, thereby cutting down on emissions, too.”
Highly commended: byMATTER and Spruce Refillable Cleaning Products
Best for eco-friendly laundry service
Did you know washing your clothes is rapidly polluting the planet? Or that a single wash cycle uses anything between 50-80 litres of water? A study conducted by Oxwash, Vanish and The Prophets shows that washing machines in the UK use about 360 billion litres of water yearly – that’s enough to drain Lake Windermere.
Thankfully, Oxwash is shaking up the laundry industry, and proving that we can wash our clothes with no net impact on our ecosystems and communities. Depending on where you live in the UK, the company will collect your laundry and ironing from your doorstep – by bike (so, no emissions) – before washing your items using a state-of-the-art, low-impact washing technology that saves 2kg CO2 emissions per 12-kilogram wash.
“Utterly brilliant. Forward-thinking, community-based, energy-cutting washing solutions, for all types of clothing and needs. A brilliant sustainable model with high aspirations to improve even more,” says actor, Woodland Trust ambassador and MC Sustainability Awards judge, Charity Wakefield.
Best for eco-friendly laundry at home
Bide produces truly sustainable laundry powder with a big social impact. Instead of making its laundry powder in factories, it brings factories to the kitchen tables of historically marginalised people. This distributed manufacturing model also ensures that production of product is in close proximity to consumers, which further reduces the carbon impact and stimulates hyper-local economies.
Also good: each non-bio laundry powder product has been handmade using UK-sourced, vegan, non-toxic and cruelty-free raw ingredients. Packaged in 100% pre-recycled and recyclable/bio-degradable paper pouches, bide refuses to ship internationally – stating that its international expansion will be driven by replication of its UK manufacturing model in local markets.
“This is the full package of cleaning products that are better for the planet. I love how accessible the website is, making eco cleaning seem fun and easy. Excellent that they are compostable and recyclable and plastic-free. It makes changing lifestyle look easy!” says Wakefield.
Highly commended: Kair
Best for eco-friendly pet grooming
Winner: Digby Dog by Bramley
You might be familiar with the Bramley range of hand soaps and creams, but did you know it also has its very own dog-wash collection for muddy paws? Kind to your dog’s coat and gentle on your hands, Digby Dog by Bramley is made from naturally derived ingredients, and the packaging is 100% recycled, recyclable or biodegradable.
“ A strong winner, this product line is made from essential oils and natural botanicals packaged with 100% recycled, recyclable or biodegradable paper. I like that all products are made in the British countryside, too, reducing carbon footprint,” says Head.
Best for eco-friendly pet accessories
Winner: Sparkles the Dog
At a time when dog sweaters were all produced from acrylics and polyester, Sparkles the Dog made the decision to only use natural materials for its pet apparel and accessories.
Since 2006, the company has been committed to using only renewable natural fibres that can be traced back to their origin. On top of manufacturing and distributing locally where possible, the label also takes advantage of carbon offsets and works with transport partners to identify the most environmentally friendly way to deliver garments. But the biggest positive environmental impact? The quality of the apparel, which encourages customers to buy once and buy well.
“ It sounds like Sparkles the Dog has been ahead of the trend since launching, always prioritising sustainable practice not just because it was best for the planet, but because it was best for the dogs, too. Its whole business model is carefully thought through to minimise waste and maximise positive impact,” says Head.
Best for eco-friendly pet-waste supplies
One of the biggest environmental headaches with having a dog is how to dispose of its daily waste. With more than 24 million poop bags being used every year (and mostly ending up in landfills), Beco carried out a survey, which revealed 96% of pet owners in UK dispose of bags in park bins or domestic waste – and realised there was an urgent need to create an environmentally friendly bag for these waste streams.
Fast forward to today and its moto, ‘Love your dog, love our planet’, rings true throughout all its products. Offering both compostable bags – made from plant-based cornstarch material and PBAT (a biodegradable polymer) – and poop bags made from 100% recycled plastic (hello, leakproof), all packaging is made from recycled cardboard, too.
“Climate-neutral certified and with an impact report clearly available on its website, Beco has long been striving to make eco-friendly pet-waste supplies the norm,” adds Head.
Highly commended: Project Harmless
Best sustainable lifestyle accessory
Winner: Holistic London
While fragrance remains a luxury industry, the supply chain is far from fair. Thankfully, Holistic London wants to change that. Aiming to do more than just transform your mood and help you feel good, the label wants to make fragance better for all and give back to the farmers who grow the beautiful ingredients by working with a traceable, ethical and sustainable value chain.
For every product sold, a tree is planted and carbon-reduction projects are backed. Candles and bath salts are plastic-free, the packaging is glass and aluminium, and the carton boxes are FSC-compliant. The brand also uses eco-friendly, responsibly sourced soy wax – and nothing else. “Holistic London is championing [the UN Sustainable Development] Goals 3,5 and 8, working with women and the local community,” adds Burman.
Highly commended: The Handmade Soap Company Home Fragrance
Best sustainable homes and lifestyle retailer
Winner: AKOJO MARKET
AKOJO MARKET sells handmade accessories, jewellery, homeware and fashion items from carefully selected, independent African designers, with each designer promoting local craftsmanship, a commitment to sustainability and a transparent way of working. AKOJO MARKET also offsets carbon emissions using Nula Carbon and, for products that have too great a carbon footprint to reach customers, the label holds these products on consignment in bulk to avoid shipping one at a time.
“A brand with the potential to truly reshape the market, I love that AKOJO MARKET champions artisan makers and female founders in sub-Saharan Africa. I also applaud its robust due-diligence processes before on-boarding brands – it is one of the standout facts for me,” says Head.
Marie Claire UK has determined the award winners in accordance with the judging criteria and with the information provided by the entrants. All information provided by the winning brands is published in good faith.
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