25 Black-Owned Sustainable Home Decor Brands to Shop For Your Next Home Refresh
Originally Appeared on MYMOVE.COM
There’s a lot going on in the world today and it can be difficult to show your support for the causes that matter most to you, especially when confined to the walls of your home.
Whether you’re looking to show support for the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements with some IG-worthy statement pieces, or you’re just looking to uplift the community, check out some new and established Black-owned home decor brands that you’ll want to shop sooner rather than later.
AphroChicIf the name AphroChic sounds familiar, that’s because husband-and-wife duo Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason have been around since 2007. They’ve also been featured in major publications like The New York Times, Elle Decor, and Architectural Digest as one of the top interior design firms in New York City. Check out custom fabrics, pillows, rugs, wallpaper, lighting equipment creations with a focus on the “intersection of modern design and global culture across diverse populations.”
Don’t Sleep InteriorsLooking for a stylish conversation piece? Don’t Sleep Interiors combines interior decor, African diaspora culture, and political consciousness to make designs that are as thought-provoking as they are visually impactful. As seen in Essence, Oprah Magazine, and Apartment Therapy, shop pillows, framed wall art, and mugs you’ll want to gift to your entire family.
Shop Don’t Sleep Interiors
Expedition SubsaharaWith a mission to radically respect traditional African goods through thoughtful storytelling and eye-catching design, Expedition Subsahara’s home decor feels like a modern ode to our ancestors. Colors and craftsmanship bring a fresh take to all things woven — from decorative lidded baskets to placemats, platters, and vases.
Shop Expedition Subsahara
JungalowBrace your bank account for the discovery of Justina Blakeney’s Jungalow. The Los Angeles-based lifestyle and home decor brand is an entire vibe and will inspire you to redecorate your home. Blakeney’s products are all about sustainability, upcycling, and international sourcing. Fill your cart with an assortment of planters, vases, wallpapers, rugs, and more guilt-free. For every Jungalow product you purchase, they’ll plant two trees.
Candice Luter | Art + InteriorsAs a featured designer on Etsy’s Black-owned brands to watch, Candice Luter’s brand is a bit smaller but her fan base is quickly expanding as she debuts new styles and color combinations of her macrame wall art. When it comes to Luter’s designs, think “clean, texture and flow.”
In five years, Luter says she sees herself expanding into more areas of interior design including lighting and furniture.
“ I like to think of interiors as a whole when I design a wall hanging and how they fit together,” Luter says. “Since woodworking was where I first began, I would love to take things back to those roots! I may have a few pieces in the works ready to launch for Spring.”
Items are handmade and inspired by Luter’s grandmother and her love of fiber art. We recommend the “Vibrato,” a striking fringed accent wall piece and a personal favorite of Luter.
Shop Candice Luter
SustainAble Home GoodsFounder, LaToya Tucciarone, grew up with African artifacts around her parent’s home, and it’s evident in the unique pieces featured in her home goods and accessories shop. Tucciarone partners with artisan entrepreneurs around the world to showcase one-of-a-kind home decor, sustain jobs and provide dignified jobs to creators in every community. Choose an interior design category or one of your favorite artists to get started.
Shop SustainAble Home Goods
The Black Home If you’re a fan of black, pops of color, and the opulence of a good gold accent (guilty as charged), Neffi Walker’s Black Home is for you. From candles to wallpaper, Walker’s unique take on minimalism celebrates the Black community as well as the timeless color in more ways than one.
Shop The Black Home
LinotoWhen it comes to the comforts of home, sometimes the things you can’t immediately see are what really make the experience. That’s where Jason Evege’s Linoto comes in. High-quality linen napkins, tablecloths, sheets, and towels in bold color offerings make Linoto a staple you’ll be returning back to for all your basics for the bed, bath, and beyond.
GOODEE WorldThink of GOODEE World as the virtual home decor marketplace you never knew you needed. Co-founders Byron and Dexter Peart feature work from designers that have earned the official GOODEE stamp of approval. That means you can guarantee every product is transparently sourced, ethically made, and designed to last. A portion of proceeds also goes towards aiding disenfranchised groups central to the brand’s mission.
Jeanetta Gonzales Art & DesignIf you’re looking for a paint-free option to spice up your white walls, check out Jeanetta Gonzales Art & Design for prints with big impact and big things to say about the culture.
Shop Jeanetta Gonzales Art & Design
Peace + RiotAchuziam Maha-Sanchez and husband Lionel have combined interior tastes to offer an eclectic selection of global home decor picks. Maha-Sanchez’s African and Caribbean heritage is apparent in the styles included in the Brooklyn boutique, from art and decor to bar and tableware.
Shop Peace + Riot
ClareNothing says “home refresh” like a fresh coat of paint on the walls in an eye-catching color. Shopping for the right hue is a complex process made easy with designer-curated options from Clare. Once you’re ready to start, Clare’s interactive Color Genius will point you towards the right pick with a few questions. Try on your picks at home with Clare’s Perfect Color Swatch peel and stick swatches to eliminate the guesswork of online shopping.
Sheila BridgesSheila Bridges is a titan in the interior design industry and has been recognized by just about every big name just in case you’re looking for the receipts (Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Domino, and Traditional Home, just to name a few). Since we can’t exactly bring the expert to our homes for a personal consultation, we’re shopping the gorgeous wall decals, wallpapers, and fabrics from the legend herself instead.
Shop Sheila Bridges
Dressing Rooms Interior StudioYou’ll be hard-pressed to find the exclusive home decor selections featured in Dressing Room Interiors Studio anywhere else, so keep a close eye on the shop for weekly inventory changes and new arrivals if you’re unable to make an in-store visit.
Shop Dressing Rooms Interior Studio
K-apostropheK-apostrophe is another amazing spot for ethically-sourced, high-quality originals. Textile items are handmade to order, and artwork comes signed, dated and framed, or unframed based on your preference.
The Crafty SwirlThe Crafty Swirl was also named a Black-owned brand to watch by Etsy, and it’s not hard to see why once you get a look at their array of stylish and creative shelving solutions. If you’re looking to remove some clutter from your tabletops, think about going high with one or an assortment of hanging shelves from the growing Los Angeles-based brand.
Shop The Crafty Swirl
Eco VibesIf you’re looking for great, Black-owned furniture stores, this one’s for you. The appropriately-named Eco Vibes is focused on sustainable, ethical practices while pushing local, women, minority, and family-owned creators to the spotlight. One percent of online sales go to the nonprofit, 1% for the Planet, and offerings include everything from furniture and lighting to gardening supplies, planters, and stands.
Shop Eco Vibes
KaribeGood cooking is all about using quality ingredients and tools. New Jersey-based brand, Karibe, is a must-stop for cast iron sets, utensils, and skillets that will pass the test of time. Select your favorite kitchen staples, and then check out the Karibe The Culture cooking blog for some recipes to break in your new purchases.
Posh Candle Co.Every candle lover knows there’s no such thing as having too many. Add a few of these soy wax creations to your collections from a Black-owned candle company. With iconic names like “Rose Made Me Do It” and “When in Doubt, Relax,” these scents will make a statement at first sight and first smell.
Shop Posh Candle Co.
Rayo and HoneyCrafted in Brooklyn, NY, Rayo and Honey creates “goods with positive intent” that’ll keep you coming back for additions to your gallery wall and fun pieces you can hang, carry, wear, hold and reflect on.
Shop Rayo and Honey
125 CollectionThe 125 Collection is perfect for candle fanatics looking to “add a little spice” to their light. This extensive collection features a mix of floral, clean, and cozy scents with fun quotes and designs to add to the vibe. The 125 Collection is based in Harlem, NY, and boasts products that are vegan as well as paraben and phthalate-free. You’ll get 80 hours of burn time from each lead-free cotton wick.
Shop the 125 Collection
Tackussanu SenegalTackussanu Senegal aims to put female Sengalese artisans in the spotlight and give them access to the global market. Add texture, color, and unparalleled detail to interior design with custom designs from the creators featured.
Shop Tackussanu Senegal
BLK MKT VintageThere’s an authentic love for Black people, culture, and experiences evident in the home decor selection at BLK MKT Vintage. Shop the carefully curated selection at least once a week for new finds and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Shop BLK MKT Vintage
Reflektion Design After multiple layoffs, founder Anitra turned her love for African design and artistry into a booming textile brand. Once you’ve found your favorite print, you can find just about any home decor item in the textile of your choice. There’s also wall decor, tableware, and African art if you’re looking for a mix of items.
Shop Reflektion Design
xN StudioPinterest-worthy homes aren’t simply purchased. They’re curated. D.C. native Nasozi Kakembo’s xN Studio is just the place to add to your home decor collection or to dive into this design approach for the first time. All the pieces you’ll shop are made on the East coast of the United States or in Uganda by local artisans.
Shop xN Studio
Why shop Black-owned home decor brandsBesides the obvious aesthetic lift to your home, supporting Black-owned businesses and creators, in general, goes towards a much bigger cause that goes back generations. Here’s why you should shop Black-owned before you head to IKEA for a decor quick fix.
Job creation:Many of the brands on our list showcase artists and designers on a larger platform than may typically be available. By supporting these businesses, you’re not only keeping them in business, but you’re also helping to create jobs for local creators in disenfranchised communities.
Celebrate Black culture:Most Black-owned home decor brands are inspired by African American culture as well as traditional African culture and design. Purchasing pieces that celebrate the Black community are a unique way to bring your personality and values to an otherwise empty wall or space.
Promote representation:You may not often think of it as such, but every dollar you spend is a vote towards the products and services you value compared to others. When you purchase your home decor, think of it as a signal to designers and companies that these are the types of products that you want to see going forward. More Black-owned buys mean more Black-owned goods.
Eliminate the racial wealth gap:The roots of the racial wealth gap go all the way back to the Jim Crow era; however, the outlawed, harmful practices like redlining and job discrimination are still affecting Black families in the U.S. Supporting small Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs, we’re investing in our community’s wealth-builders and promoting others to do the same.
Ready to start shopping? Follow your favorite brands from the list above, and then make your way to the official site to get the items you love before they’re gone.
Hannah4Change.org is passionate about corporate sustainability. Hopefully, this resource guide about starting an eco-friendly business will inspire you to practice more sustainability as an entrepreneur.
You’ve heard of entrepreneurs, but have you ever heard of an ECOpreneur? The major difference between the two is that an ECOpreneur is very conscious of how their business practices are impacting the environment. They may even be attempting to solve a pressing environmental issue with their new business. Here’s how you can get an ECObusiness started.
Every ECObusiness Starts With a Plan
No matter how exciting your idea for a green business may be, you need a proper plan. That plan should encompass a few essential steps, including:
You’ll Need to Find Ethical Funding
Now that you have a plan for your ECObusiness, it’s time to start looking for the capital you need to get it up and running. For this step, you will have one of a few options:
Transparency is Important for ECOpreneurs
Here’s the thing about being an ECOpreneur: Your customers need to be able to trust you. You need to show your commitment to the environment every day. These actions can help you:
If you’re an entrepreneur who is passionate about the environment, why not become an ECOpreneur instead? Then you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your startup is making a positive difference in the world. You’ll be making a difference, too — for members of your current community and, of course, for future generations.
Photo Credit: Pexels
Launch of "Living Lively"
One of my best friends @hailethomas officially launched her plant-powered cookbook this week 🌸💗🌱 I was so excited to receive this long awaited (and adorably sustainable) book in the mail. #LivingLively focuses on 7 points of power to “empower from within” and has the most incredible recipes you have to try for yourself. I’m so honored to be featured in the book with fellow activist friends (who are now family). Haile’s new book is available everywhere books are sold.
This blog was written by a colleague, Mr. Jim McKinley. You can contact him via his website, moneywithjim.org.
One of the best ways to help uplift minorities is by putting your consumer dollars toward companies that promote diversity and inclusion. Every time you shop, you have an opportunity to support minority cultures and ethnicities, whether it’s doing your grocery shopping at African American-owned businesses or supporting restaurants owned by people of color.
Shopping at Minority-Owned Businesses
The best way to directly support minority groups in your community is by injecting money into businesses owned by people of color. If you’re unaware of which businesses in your community are owned by minority groups, there are apps and websites to help you. One app that helps promote businesses owned by African Americans is Black Nation. It allows business owners to add their business to a nationwide directory and helps consumers find black-owned businesses.
There are a number of benefits to shopping at minority-owned businesses, including closing the racial wealth gap, fostering job creation for minorities, and uplifting your local economy. If your family is on a tight budget, consider supporting at least one minority-owned shop or restaurant per week to help support minority groups in your community.
Donating to Causes
Another way to uplift minorities is by donating to causes that promote diversity. Not all communities will have diversity initiatives, but there are plenty of national movements to promote diversity and social justice on a broad scale.
If you’re struggling to find local causes that promote social justice and equity, consider starting your own or joining prominent activists such as Hannah4Change. You can usually find out about events and protests on social media, so consider following activists to stay in the know.
Supporting Companies That Promote Equity
Along with supporting small minority-owned businesses in your area, be sure to investigate how larger corporations promote diversity, inclusion, and equity before giving them money. For families on a budget, it’s important to be even more mindful of where your money goes.
Corporate Social Justice is a growing movement right now, pivoting from routine Corporate Social Responsibility programs to an inclusion strategy that goes beyond the status quo and requires deeper, systemic changes within companies. As you consider where to spend your money, do your research to find corporations that promote equity.
One such company is Walgreens, which strives to promote diversity and inclusion practices. If you’re on a tight budget, there are online coupons to help you save money while still supporting Walgreens’ mission to promote social justice in their business.
Another large business that supports diversity and equity is lululemon, which announced its commitment to delivering anti-racism and anti-discrimination training for all employees by September 2020. The athletic wear company has also vowed to spend $7 million on its social impact program Here to Be.
Macy’s is another corporation that strives to include diversity and equity into their operations. One initiative they’ve adopted is to achieve 30 percent ethnic diversity at their senior director level and above within the next five years. Their commitment extends beyond how they staff; Macy’s also plans to require more balanced representation in their advertising as it relates to gender identity, ethnicity, age, size, and those who are differently-abled.
If you’re on a budget, it’s important to direct your spending habits towards businesses that promote equity and minority-owned businesses. If you can afford it, donate to causes that promote diversity; even a small amount each month can make a big difference in the long run. Do some research and support large corporations that strive to promote social justice, and remember you can always find coupons online to help you spend your money wisely.
Here is an informative blog from Captain Planet Foundation about young eco-activists. Hopefully you'll be inspired. Why don't you join us?
From petitioning schools to cut single-use plastics, to speaking out for the environment all over the globe, these young heroes are combining their powers to take pollution down to zero!
1. Hannah Testa
Hannah Testa is the founder of Hannah4Change, an organization dedicated to fighting issues that impact the planet. An environmental activist and speaker, she partners with businesses and government to influence them to develop more sustainable practices. Hannah has received numerous honors and awards, including the Teen Earth Day Hero by CNN, the Young Superhero for Earth Award by Captain Planet Foundation, the Action for Nature International Young Eco-Hero Award, the Gloria Barron Prize. Learn More about Hannah
2. Erin Schrode
Erin Schrode started Teens Turning Green at thirteen years old with her mother, Judi Shils. Through Teens Turning Green (now Turning Green), Schrode is leading the efforts to raise awareness about global sustainability while influencing young adults to make the transition to utilize eco-friendly brands in their everyday lives. Turning Green gets teens involved through a series of campaigns and projects, such as Project Green Dorm and the #ConsciousCollege Tour campaign. They also promote advocacy of environmental health through campaigning and lobbying for change that will protect the Earth. In Currently, Schrode is helping the people of Puerto Rico with the #ChefsForPuertoRico campaign. Working with Chef José Andrés, Schrode is the COO of #ChefsForPuertoRico, World Central Kitchen’s disaster relief initiative in response to Hurricane Maria. Since being there, Schrode and her team have been able to prepare and distribute 3.3 million balanced meals across the island of Puerto Rico. Learn More about Erin
3. Steff McDermot
Estefania (Steff) McDermot has stepped forward as a fierce defender of the blue seas surrounding her home of the Cayman Islands. For generations, her family has dived, fished, and built boats to live on the waters teeming with life, but today it’s more common for her to see plastic floating across the harbor, dead coral, algae blooms, and mountains of trash on the beaches. Steff attended the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp to build international support to back her work to pressure the island nation to take meaningful action to address the problem. In partnership with Plastic Free Cayman, Steff created the 345 Pledge that provides businesses and individuals a stepwise plan to reducing their plastic consumption by committing to make 3 immediate changes, 4 changes within 6 months, and 5 changes within the next year towards achieving a plastic-free Cayman Island. Learn More about Steff
4. Carter and Olivia Ries
In 2009, Carter and Olivia Ries created One More Generation, an organization seeking to keep endangered species protected for one more generation and beyond. Through OMG, they seek to advocate for wildlife and environmental issues, as well as empower youth around the world to stand up and help create solutions for the pressing issues of today. They have made their voices heard on several platforms across the globe, including a presentation at TEDxYouth and an address to the United Nations on World Wildlife Day. Learn More about Carter and Olivia
5. Chloe Mei Espinosa
Chloe Mei Espinosa’s passion for scuba diving among tropical reefs inspired her work to protect the oceans by reducing plastic straw pollution. In April 2018, the then 11-year-old researched and created her own logo and website, skiptheplasticstraw.com, as part of a 6th grade project to educate people about the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws. On her website, she created a Skip the Plastic Straw pledge counter for people to commit to not using singleuse plastic straws. To date, more than 800 people have signed the pledge! After attending the 2018 Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, Chloe Mei lobbied her school district to go “straw-free”; in July they agreed, and it was announced all 32 schools of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District would stop using plastic straws and instead offer paper straws on request. Not satisfied with getting just her own school district to go straw-free, in August Chloe Mei managed to convince Saddleback Valley Unified School District to stop using single-use plastic straws in all 34 schools in that district!. Learn More about Chloe Mei
6. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’) is a young indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. At the early age of six, Xiuhtezcatl began speaking to crowds at conferences and demonstrations from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations New York. He is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians an organization of young activists, artists and musicians from across the globe stepping up as leaders and working together to create positive concrete action in their communities to address climate change. He also uses original eco hiphop music to educate and inspire his generation into action. He is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Obama administration for their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained and moratoriums on fracking in his state.
Xiuhtezcatl has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring them into action to protect the Earth. His movement has grown to over 1,500 youth lead Earth Guardian crews globally working on the frontline to combat climate change. His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, CNN, MSNBC, HBO and many more. In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council. Learn More about Xiuhtezcatl
7. Dyson Chee
An avid water advocate, Dyson Chee has a deep passion for the ocean surrounding his home on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Dyson believes that the world is his classroom where he has the opportunity to explore his interests of ocean conservation, scientific research, and politics. While interning at a world-renowned coral research lab and at the Hawaii State Capitol, Dyson started Project O.C.E.A.N after attending Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in 2018, with the goal of rallying youth support for environmental issues that affect the health of the ocean and local community. His greatest hope is to inspire youth to be engaged citizens and to make a positive difference in their community. Dyson currently serves as an ambassador to Philippe Cousteau Jr.’s EarthEcho International and for Student Voice. In June 2018, he was awarded The National Billy Michal Student Leadership Award by the National WWII Museum for his strong record of volunteerism, school and community activism, and helping to implement creative solutions to recognized problems. Learn More about Dyson
8. Ta’Kaiya Blaney
Ta’Kaiya Blaney is an actor, singer-songwriter and Native Children’s Survival (NCS) Youth Ambassador from Tla A’min Nation, Turtle Island. From the Idle No More Movement to the United Nations Ta’Kaiya has performed and spoken at grass-roots Indigenous gatherings and rallies and at International conferences and forums across the globe. Ta’Kaiya’s engagements have included, the TUNZA United Nations Children and Youth Conference on the Environment, the United Nations Rio+20 Conference, and the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues. In 2014, Ta’Kaiya was the youngest keynote speaker for Powershift (an annual global youth summit focusing on climate change policy) at Pittsburg, P.A. and Victoria, B.C. and the youngest Indigenous youth to present an intervention at the United Nations Headquarters Permanent Forum On Indigenous where she introduced the NCS “Indigenous Children’s Fund”. Learn More about Ta’Kaiya
9. Robbie Bond
Robbie Bond is truly a young champion for our nation’s beautiful National Parks & Monuments. At just 9 years old, Robbie founded Kids Speak For Parks, an organization created to stand up and speak for national parks and monument, largely in response to the Trump administration’s executive order that stands to threaten 27 national monuments. His goal is to build a chorus of young voices for those national treasures. Robbie attended the 2018 Ocean Heroes Bootcamp and soon formed a partnership with Klean Kanteen and Litterati to extend his campaign to eliminate single-use plastics in national parks and marine protected areas. “Our government needs to hear from us, the youngest amongst us, that our national parks are not for sale,” Robbie said about his work. “You can’t get the parks back once they are taken away.” Robbie recently received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and the Action for Nature International Eco Hero Award. Learn More about Robbie
10. Melati and Isabel Wijsen
Sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen started campaigning against plastic bags in Bali when they were 10 and 12 years old. They founded an organization called Bye Bye Plastic Bags and started a petition to get plastic bags banned from their island. Permission was obtained to collect signatures behind customs and immigration at Bali’s airport and, eventually, they got over 100,000 signatures.
For over a year, Bali’s Governor failed to meet Melati and Isabel’s request for a hearing. In frustration, the sisters threatened a hunger strike. Twenty-four hours later, they were escorted to meet with the governor. During that meeting, the governor signed a memorandum to help the people of Bali say no to plastic bags by January 2018. Additionally, the Indonesian government has pledged to invest $1 billion towards reducing marine waste by 70% by 2025, as part of the UN’s Clean Seas program. Bye Bye Plastic Bags has grown into an internationally recognized organization, and has teams all over the world working to git rid of plastic bags. Learn More about Melati and Isabel
11. Coda Christopherson
A surfer and advocate, Coda Christopherson is an active defender of the planet’s oceans. After attending the 2018 Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, she left determined to convince her school to stop offering plastic straws to her peers. Coda started advocating in her community and at her school. Her presentation of “Plastic Pollution SUCKS but you don’t have to” resonated and the Manhattan Beach Unified School District agreed to go strawless! To guide and help others that are trying to do the same thing, Coda established Strawless School, an initiative to stop the use and disposal of plastic straws at schools by educating students about their impact on the ocean and providing eco-friendly alternatives. Her first eco-event was held at the Manhattan Beach Pier where she enlisted 800 community members to take the Strawless School Pledge and stop using single-use plastic straws and flatware. In return, she gifted 800 sets of reusable metal forks, spoons, and straws. Together with the Strawless School Squad, an organic supporter group that sprang from her campaign, she plans on educating and inspiring other schools to go strawless. Coda’s compassionate nature and belief that the ocean has rights remains the heartbeat of her work. She is grateful to live in a world in which she can use her voice as a force for good. Learn More about Coda
12. Charles Orgbon III
Charles Orgbon III’s journey as an environmentalist began in 2008 — he was only 12-years-old. Charles noticed his school’s littered campus, and wanted to organize an effort to resolve the problem. He later developed Greening Forward, which would become a leading organization in the United States devoted to training and funding environmental leaders, ages 5-25. Greening Forward has distributed over tens of thousands of dollars in funding to youth environmental projects that plant trees, build compost bins, install rain barrels, monitor streams, recycle tons of waste, and advocate for a number of other environmental issues.
In addition, Charles completed an Arctic Science Expedition that has helped informed his role as an informal environmental educator, has integrated his award-winning blueprint for youth environmental leadership into Chilean and Colombian school systems, and consults numerous governmental and international agencies on their youth engagement strategy around environmental issues. Now, Charles is leveraging his environmental organizing and non-profit leadership to effect change in corporations. Charles supports Deloitte’s Sustainability Advisory and Environmental Liability practices, helping his Fortune 500 and public sector clients understand and ultimately reduce their environmental impact.
Taking care of Mother Earth isn't just about education, it also includes action! Here is a case study from two middle schools in Minnesota that changed out plastic utensils and bowls. They had some valuable lessons learned, but also I should note they saved money!
The full case study can be found here:
Hawaii’s Plastic Beach
This blog was first posted on the Plastic Pollution Coalition website: https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2019/3/21/hawaiis-plastic-beach
By Hannah Testa, age 16, founder of Hannah4Change
The first time I saw the beach, I was enchanted. I was resting on a beach in Florida and ran my hands through the sand, saying “beach” for the first time. I splashed in the waves with my dad and said hello to the tiny fish jumping out of the water. It was right at that moment that I fell in love with the ocean and all of the life that it supports. However, that beautiful beach I visited as a toddler might not exist by the time I'm a mother.
Recently, I was visiting Hawaii at Kahuku Beach in Oahu and was shocked at how much plastic washed up along the shoreline there.
Joining my dear friend, Robbie Bond, age 11 and founder of Kids Speak for Parks, and also the hardworking organization called Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, we cleaned up about a half-mile stretch of beach in about 2 hours. Us kids used handmade screens to filter out the sand and retain plastic particles while other volunteers picked up the larger pieces with their hands. We collected about 500 pounds of plastic in a short period of time!
What is most sad is that this beach is cleaned often by volunteers, and yet we know the plastic is expected to return. On one hand, cleaning up the beach seemed frustrating because we know unless we tackle the source of the problem and turn off the tap, plastic will wash ashore again. But on the other hand, we can’t just leave the plastic there either!
What did we find? The most common items we saw today were bottle caps, pieces of fishing nets, and toothbrushes. There were also a lot of unrecognizable plastics. One of the interesting things I picked up was the bottom of a plastic bottle that had dozens of little bite marks taken from it. It was apparent that fish were eating from this plastic bottle! I’m glad I am vegan and no longer eat fish!
In fact, we saw four large sea turtles resting on the beach. One of them was resting on a big piece of plastic trash. It illustrated for me that plastics are a common threat to animal species in our oceans.
What didn’t we see? We didn’t see anything that wasn’t made of plastic because any biodegradeable products had already broken down. The problem with plastic is that it isn't biodegradable, meaning it can't be broken down into organic compounds. Instead, it breaks up into small, toxic microplastics that are eaten by fish.
Our dependence on plastic products needs to end if we want to protect our oceans and our beautiful beaches. We all need to see what we can do as citizens and consumers to reduce our plastic consumption, to recycle properly, and to voice our concerns loudly to politicians and business leaders about this growing environmental crisis.
No matter where we live, the health of the ocean affects all of us. By taking the steps to curb our plastic consumption and “turn off the tap,” we can help ensure that future toddlers will have an ocean to fall in love with.
Hannah Testa is a sustainability advocate, international speaker, and founder of Hannah4Change, an organization dedicated to fighting issues that impact the planet. Hannah4Change is a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition.
"Anything Could Happen"
February 12th was the premiere of a Public Service Announcement/Video titled "Anything Could Happen". I was so honored that MusEffect invited me to participate in their PSA. We worked on this video several months ago and frankly, I almost forgot about it, but so glad to let everyone see the final production! Thanks to the beautiful young dancers, artists, and creative people that inspired me! #anythingcouldhappen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHQjGbt7zOU
It’s pretty rare when a respected company asks for your input, but it is especially rare to be asked to be part of a small team to help co-create new products. Yet that is exactly what happened to me about a year ago. At that time, the cereal company Kashi asked me and 4 other youth from across the nation to help them create healthy new breakfast cereals aimed at kids.
Kashi is a 30-year-old food pioneer that produces nutritious plant-based foods including cereals, entrees and snacks with healthy ingredients. They are headquartered near San Diego, CA.
Instead of trying to guess what kids want in a cereal, Kashi went straight to the source and collaborated with a group of kids who are passionate about food and the planet, the Kashi Crew, to create foods that both kids and parents would love. The result is a collection of flavorful Kashi by Kids organic cereals – each featuring cool shapes and great tastes - but also superfood ingredients like chickpeas and red lentils.
The new cereals launched in August, and are available in three flavors:
• Kashi by Kids Berry Crumble – Crispy purple corn puffs are combined with tasty apple & strawberry flavor-filled pillows made with chickpeas to create a berry-licious and healthy bowl of goodness.
• Kashi by Kids Honey Cinnamon – Honey, cinnamon, red lentils and sweet apple come together in a nourishing combination of crispy swirled puffs and tasty filled pillows for a spoonful of fun and yum.
• Kashi by Kids Cocoa Crisp – Crispy cocoa bites made with chickpeas and filled pillows made with Fair Trade certified cocoa create a delightful start to the day.
Each cereal is Non-GMO Project Verified, sustainably-sourced, features a simple, organic ingredient list, and delivers diverse plant-based nutrition. There are at least 18g of whole grains, 3g fiber and 8g of sugar or less per serving, making them kid and parent approved. And 2 of the 3 cereals are vegan!
I created life-long friends working with Kashi and the Kashi Crew. Kashi did a great job carefully assembled a team of Gen Z leaders from ages 12-17. Each member brought a fresh perspective with their specialized skills in food, nutrition, the arts and sustainability. Their knowledge and insight went into everything from the ingredients to the flavor combinations to the packaging and the names of the new Kashi by Kids cereals. I really enjoyed learning from each of these inspiring young leaders and getting to know about their journey and passion in life.
I am so impressed by both the incredible team at Kashi as well as my peers on the Kashi Crew. Kashi fully involved us in every step of the process, and I am so proud of the end results. What made this project unique and exciting was that a big company truly set out to involve youth in important decisions, and I hope this starts a trend with other businesses of involving the next generation.
So please give these cereals a try, and more importantly, use the product as a way to help your children understand where their food comes from and how healthy food choices can positively impact themselves, their communities, and the planet. I hope our collective passion for food and planet inspires you to make a positive impact in the world.
Kashi by Kids cereals are now available at grocers nationwide.
This is an article I wrote in the Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta newsletter for July 2018...
It was a beautiful crisp and clear Sunday afternoon, and my parents told my brother and I that we were going to visit one of my Dad’s colleagues. Little did I know that we were actually going to meet Butterball for the very first time ---- a 6 month old beautiful purebred Golden Retriever who was ready for adoption by GRRA.
As we drove into the driveway, I could see in the distance the wagging tails of two Golden Retrievers. I was so excited to play with them because I love animals ---- particularly dogs and especially Goldens.
Butterball greeted my brother and I with a ball in his mouth and I could feel that he genuinely wanted to meet us. I asked if we could play with him. After 10 minutes of playing ball with him, my dad said “Do you want to take him home?” and after the question sunk in, I burst out in tears as I was overcome by a flood of emotions. I realized the visit was really to see if we were going to take home a dog.
Immediately after our visit, we shopped for a dog bed, toys (especially tennis balls!), and food. My mind raced about where he’d sleep, what we’d do with him, and how much fun we’d have with him. I hadn’t had a pet since I was about 4 years old. About 10 years ago, our beloved Golden Retriever Tucker passed away. That was a dark and sad period in my young life.
Just two days after our visit, Butterball walked into our home, and I felt that our family was considered complete.
As I reflect on this, I am so grateful that GRRA gave us this amazing opportunity to rescue a beautiful animal. What I’ve learned from Butterball (and Tucker, too) is that dogs give us unconditional love. And because of them, it makes the world a better place.
I hope that more people would consider rescuing dogs as all dogs (and all animals) deserve a peaceful and loving home. Frankly, isn’t that what we all want ---- to love and be loved?
I may only be 15 years old, but what I want is more love, compassion, and peace in the world. For that reason, a few years ago I founded Hannah4Change, which is a platform for change. I focus on animal issues as well as issues that affect our planet. Rescuing Butterball aligns with my beliefs that it is much better to adopt and rescue an animal than to buy from pet stores, breeders, and “puppy mills”.
Again, thank you to GRRA for changing Butterball’s life as well as ours.