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6 Amazing Social Impact Startups Led By Women

We want to use our purchasing power to support women-owned businesses and environmentally friendly business practices. Finding the time to research which companies do both can be a chore.

To help narrow things down, we identified six businesses that achieve both goals and more. Consider it a one-stop shopping guide for making the planet and the people who share it a better place.

1. Prosperity Candle

In May 2010, a group of Iraqi war widows crafted and shipped 2,000 candles to the United States for Mother’s Day. The blueprint for a revolutionary business model was born. In the years since, Prosperity Candle has partnered with women in Iraq and Haiti, and with third-world refugees at their Massachusetts warehouse, to help empower the artisans who craft their fragrant candles. Each candle comes in a reusable container, and ships with a personalized card from its creator.

2. Mara Hoffman

To set her brand apart in the incredibly competitive fashion industry, Mara Hoffman needed to do more than design good clothes. Hoffman was already well-established in the industry when she made the bold decision to double down on sustainability. That required upsetting her own supply chain. She switched to fabrics sourced from sustainable fibers. She printed digitally to help reduce water and chemical waste. She transitioned into compostable and recyclable packaging. The result? Beautiful clothing, sustainably sourced, and honored with the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s 2017 Positive Impact Award.

3. Amour Vert

Buy a tee, plant a tree. The label, founded by Linda Balti, has partnered with American Forest to plant more than 200,000 trees since its first garments were produced in 2010. Amour Vert (which translates to ”Green Love” in French) looks out for Mother Earth on both ends of the production spectrum. Amour Vert claims to produce in limited quantities to eliminate excess waste, and produce its garments within a few miles of its San Francisco offices. Its certified organic cotton is free of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms. Many other source materials (Tencel, OEKO-TEX certified silk, recycled wool, and our favorite―hemp) are environmentally conscious, too.

4. Coyuchi

Christine Nielsen founded Coyuchi in 1991 as a conduit for organic cotton to make its way into your bedtime routine. It’s still going strong, proving that eco-friendly textiles are not just trendy―they’re comfortable, too. Coyuchi has since added organic linen into its product line. We think you’ll find their sheets, blankets, pillows, towels and nighttime apparel is as comfy as it is responsibly sourced. After a good night’s sleep, check the label. You won’t find chemicals like flame retardants, formaldehyde finishes and heavy metals in dyestuffs.

5. Avocado

What’s beneath your bedding? Mattresses are more comfortable than ever, but sustainably sourced materials are hard to find. Enter Avocado. According to its website, each Avocado mattress consists of materials such as GOLS organic certified latex, GOTS organic certified wool, GOTS organic certified cotton, and GOTS organic certified kapok fiber. In addition, their mattresses are GREENGUARD Gold certified by UL Environment for low emissions. But are they comfortable? Try your mattress for up to a year, and return it for no charge if you’re not satisfied. As a bonus, Avocado says it donates 1 percent of all revenues to environmental nonprofits.

6. Starfish

Starfish’s stated mission is to liberate women from human trafficking in Asia. Their jewelry is effectively a social enterprise program, allowing women to become managers, accountants, graphic designers and photographers―and create beautiful bling. According to its website, Starfish has employed more than 140 women and has served thousands through its community outreach services. In addition, its holistic care programs provide vocational training, healthcare, shelter, counseling, and education grants for its women and their children. Purchase directly from their website and you’ll get a public-facing shoutout in the form of a pop-up notice!

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