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Earth Day: Ten Outstanding Eco-Conscious Businesses

April 9, 2013
Small Business
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

As Earth Day approaches, we at NerdWallet decided to call attention to some outstanding eco-conscious businesses.  Learn about how these business create their sustainable products and the measures they take to reduce their environmental impact.

  • Andy Krumholtz, owner of Escama Studio, a company that creates beautiful handbags and jewelery out of recycled aluminum pop tops

“We are located in San Francisco and in Brazil — we work with artisans
to create fashion handbags out of post-consumer recycled aluminum pop
tops.  Our products are among the very few on the market that are recycled
and also look stylish.  The metallic shell of the bags are crocheted by
hand and there’s something about the supple texture of woven pop tops
that is quite alluring — most people don’t even recognize what the
bags are made of at first glance.

  Our venture supports over 100 artisans and their families, our 
products are selling in 23 countries around the world and in such
places as MoMA, Coca Cola and the Royal Academy of Art London.”

Penny Bauder, Owner of Green Kid Crafts, an environmentally friendly kids toy company.

“Each month subscribers receive a 
box filled with simple science projects, art materials, and lesson plans 
that spark kids’ creativity and cultivate respect and love for the 
environment while offering kids an engaging way to explore, create, and
 learn. As an environmentalist and a working mother of two, I saw a need for 
a convenient solution that would allow families to spend quality time 
together enjoying fun activities that bring them closer to nature.

  My green company not only strives for sustainability but takes a step 
beyond to try and create positive change. As a company founded by an 
environmental scientist, it’s only natural that Green Kid Crafts is
 committed to ensuring that all of our activities, from product to process, 
have as little an impact on the environment as possible. Further, we view 
our work as a way to foster the next generation of environmental stewards
 by engaging kids with nature in positive, creative ways.”

  • Brandon Peele of EVR1, a company that creates handmade sustainable
accessories out of durable scrap and
upcycled materials

“We just launched a smartphone case / wallet, perfect for Dad’s and 
Grads, as it allows you to keep all of your essentials together.

  Each of our products contains a tiny Micro SDHC disk that holds humanity’s
greatest written works, connecting us to the long arc of human history.  
This disk can be read/customized/updated via any PC, Mac or Android phone.”

  • Reena Kazmann,
 Director of
 Eco-Artware, an online gift store featuring products created from recycled, reused and natural materials by 34 independent designers

“We donate to the NRDC and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, in Maryland, annually. I started this business because I think that good design can help preserve natural resources and reduce the size of our landfills. 

I support the environmental movement because I think we are trashing the planet and wasting our precious natural resources. Eco-conscious designers are learning to reuse leftover supplies or retired products and change the way we create products so there is less waste, and less noxious byproducts. My site is devoted to providing attractive and long lasting alternatives to gifts produced with products made from new materials.”

  • Jeff Hornung of The Walnut Log, a woodturning shop that uses salvaged and reclaimed trees, timber, knick nacks and construction waste to create new functional art

“I’m always glad to be able to tell clients that no additional trees were harmed in the making of their Pen, Bowl, Plate or Box. We have taken forgotten items (furniture for example) that were left for trash and turned them into new usable treasures! I also like to wander antique malls and flea markets looking for 50’s-70’s retro wooden statues as well. Many times they are made of exotic woods and can be repurposed. Every item I make using reclaimed wood is one less item that needed to be made from a new harvest. 

I have also started collecting the sawdust and chips from domestic hardwoods so I can make my own fire logs. Hope to heat my shop with them next winter! More and more I want to focus on salvaged wood, trees that have long been cut, drift wood, storm damage and the like so no new harvests need to be done because of me and my art.”

  • Diane Thompson, owner and founder of Cortizza, an accessory company that uses cork and cork fabric

“While everyone is familiar with cork, cork fabric (also called cork 
leather) is a new material to most. It’s an eco-friendly, sustainable 
material that has the look and soft feel of fine suede or leather. But, it
 also has a more exotic look and is available in many patterns and colors. It
is a luxury alternative to leather.  I love the sustainability of cork. Cork is the bark from the cork oak tree.  The bark is harvested every 8-10 years, with no damage to the trees, which 
typically live 200+ years. In fact, regularly harvesting the bark keeps the 
tree healthy and contributes to a long life. In addition to sustainability,
 cork fabric is a beautiful, versatile, durable luxury material.
  In this case, there is no sacrifice in style to be eco-friendly. In fact, 
it is just the opposite!”

  • Travis Nagle of Viesso, an eco-friendly furniture company

“At the end of each year, we
 donate money to the Carbon Fund to try and offset our carbon emissions from

  For us, smart design isn’t just about the product’s form.  It’s about 
utilizing good materials and creating a system that impacts lives in a
 positive way.  Eco focused furniture can be impactful in two ways: for a 
healthier environment, and for a healthier home.  Some of the elements we use 
impact the environment as a whole like using local woods and recycled materials. Others, like using all natural latex instead of
 polyurethane foam, restricting fire retardants, using finishes with no
chemicals, and all natural fabrics, create products that contribute to a 
healthy home for consumers.”

  • Marsha Jaramillo, Owner
 Markets of Sunshine, a website that sells sustainable and eco-friendly products
for families

”We recycle and upcycle to make many of
 our products and we use cotton fabrics in our children and women lines.
  When folks buy one of our products they know they can use it over and over
, which saves them money. We are helping the environment by repurposing 
items and turning them into useful everyday products.  
I recycle vintage books into secret compartment books. I use vintage 
hankies and make journal covers and greeting card sets. We also use wool
 clothing and make women’s clothing accessories and tech gadget holders.
  We recycle old jeans into aprons, slightly used clothing into cute outfits 
for children and so much more.”

  •  Ashok Kamal of the Green Business Bureau, a company that provides online green business certification to small businesses

“Green Business Bureau (GBB) offers the leading online green business certification program for small and medium-sized businesses. Our web-based assessment guides businesses toward becoming more sustainable by suggesting green initiatives and awarding points that culminate in a clickable seal that opens up the company’s unique sustainability profile. The goal is to help our members reduce costs, engage their employees and delight customers all while protecting the environment.”

  • Jay Schmidt of CivitasNow , a media agency specializing in sustainable advertising solutions

“We recently repurposed 
billboard vinyl into reusable market tote bags and partnered with a local
specialty grocer to distribute the bags.
For every bag that is sold, we plant a tree and the local grocer makes a
 donation to a charitable organization.”