This year I had the great pleasure of judging the Sustainable Lifestyle Awards. In its first year, I was delighted to see such a huge number of entries across the sixteen categories, covering everything from accessories to footwear, content to innovation.
One of the biggest stand-out elements of this year’s awards was seeing how many entries came from people and brands that I’m already a fan of. These people are at the top of their game, putting sustainability firmly alongside style in everything they do.
In July I enjoyed unveiling the awards and my role as a judge, and now I want to highlight all the winners, and why they really are leading the way in each of their industries…
Best Sustainable Accessory Brand: Pala Eyewear
I’ve been a big fan of Pala Eyewear‘s designs for some time now. The sunglasses brand focuses on using sustainable materials, and providing fair pay for its staff too. People and planet, alongside pretty designs!
The judges said “We were impressed by a number of sustainable aspects which Pala has built their brand around: from their use of ethical and recycled materials, both for product and packaging, providing fair wage employment for workers, empowering women and giving back to communities by supporting eye-care programmes in Africa, and the fact that they also offset their carbon emissions with every purchase of eyewear.”
Best Sustainable Beauty Brand: Evolve Beauty
If I was to ever start a beauty brand, I could only hope it would look like Evolve Organic Beauty*. Inside and out, their products are beautiful. I even had the pleasure of hearing Evolve’s Founder and CEO, Laura Rudoe, talk at a recent event, explaining how they make all of their products in their own factory (a rarity in beauty manufacturing).
The judges said “Evolve’s commitment to sourcing ingredients not only in a sustainable, ethical way but also as close to home as possible, before venturing out for exotic ingredients from far-flung corners of the world, is what all brands should be looking to emulate.”
Best Sustainable Brand: Blanc
Very soon after writing my guide to eco cleaning, I was delighted to find out Blanc had won the Best Sustainable Brand category. Blanc is a sustainable dry cleaners, cleaning up a pretty toxic industry in a sustainable and stylish way.
The judges said “In our opinion. Blanc was the obvious winner for this category based on the fact that they are tackling an industry where toxicity is really rampant. Many traditional dry cleaners use a chemical known as PERC (perchloroethylene) that is bad for both our health and the environment. However, Blanc works with non-toxic, biodegradable detergents and pure water which is safe for both people and the planet.
“Blanc are also vocal about the issues with plastic within the dry cleaning industry and have switched to brown paper bags where possible and reduce as much as possible. They are constantly looking for more solutions to the problem at hand and always ask the customer for feedback – the judging panel really appreciated this transparency.”
Best Sustainable Content Creator: Conscious Chatter
Hands up, who’s binged Kestrel Jenkins’ Conscious Chatter podcast? I actually used to listen to it A LOT when I had a regular commute, and it has always been a podcast I come back to when I want to learn about a specific topic in sustainability. Well worth a listen!
The judges said “With a growing and engaged audience, the content is informative and engaging whilst providing a level of substance which encourages repeat listens and shareability. Her content sheds light and questions on key and emerging issues within the fashion industry, such as consumerism, production practices and representation. Using an inquisitive interview-style, Kestrel pushes her guests to share opinions and digs a little deeper on rich topics and themes.”
Best Sustainable Fashion Brand: Riley Studio
I first crossed paths with Riley Studio* after doing a little consultancy work looking into sustainable unisex brands, and was delighted to find they had entered this year’s awards. Having started with a line of minimal sweatshirts, hoodies, and joggers, the studio has now moved into outerwear, knitwear, and more, all made from incredibly sustainable materials within an incredibly sustainable supply chain. I am coveting their teddy coat* hard!
The judges said “Riley Studio is a hugely impactful sustainable fashion brand that balances responsible business practices with a pleasing aesthetic. Garments are ethically produced from waste such as plastic bottles, fishing nets and textiles. Their small but perfectly formed collections are underpinned by a principled approach to manufacture and a well-communicated ethos of mindful consumption. The brand gives a lifetime guarantee to all its products, offering a Recycle Programme in order to prevent their garments ending up in landfill.”
Best Sustainable Footwear Brand: Juta Shoes
Juta Shoes have been on my radar for a few years now – I first discovered them when their Founder did a talk at General Assembly about running a sustainable start-up. I was inspired – and have always pegged them as the Birdsong of the footwear world, especially in the way they work so closely with London-based womens groups.
The judges said “Juta Shoes combines celebration of style with a preservation of traditional craft whilst teaching skills and providing a route to employment for marginalised women. Juta Shoes are a great example of the type of business model we need to foster if we want to see more inclusive, slow, sustainable businesses.”
Best Sustainable Gift & Lifestyle Brand: Kloris
The judges said “Kloris stood out to us as a business that is committed to sustainability from start to finish, who do not compromise design, quality, and innovation, and who produce products that are not only deserving of a place on our planet but are worthy of the planet’s resources that it takes to create the products.”
Best Sustainable Homeware Brand: Aerende
Aerende is potentially one of the best independent homeware brands out there. Their ethics and aesthetics really do set them apart, and it made them a top pick for my guide to sustainable homewares a little while ago.
The judges said “The aesthetic, branding, thought and meaning behind the brand’s name and above all Aerende’s approach to social enterprise are exemplary.
“We were particularly impressed and humbled by the backstory of the brand, and – above all – how Aerende’s workforce is made up of people who are facing social challenges in the UK. We truly believe that Aerende is one of the most impressive brands any of us have come across in terms of combining different needs and products with incredibly desirable designs. We were impressed by the wide range of products offered by the brand – from bed linen and candles, to pottery and chopping boards, there is something for everyone!”
Best Sustainable Innovation: Dame
As a woman, I’m always advocating for better period products. I believe we should all switch to those that don’t use plastic (yes, most mainstream brands use plastic) and so I totally echo the judges’ sentiment in awarding DAME the Best Innovation award. DAME has created a reusable applicator for tampons, removing all need for disposable plastic applicators.
The judges said “There is a huge need and gap in the marketplace for sustainable tampons. To this end, Dame have provided a well-resolved solution with a good practical design: we were all unanimous in agreement that the product was considered and unique and sat well within the ‘green’ message of the Sustainable Lifestyle Awards.”
Best Sustainable Jewellery Brand: Yala
One of the biggest and best surprises at this year’s awards was Yala Jewellery scooping Best Jewellery Brand. I’ve been a fan of Founder, Audrey, and her teams’ work for years now, even making them my ‘it’ earring of the summer this year. It makes sense, therefore, that they shone in the jewellery category!
The judges said “Yala scored highly for our judging panel on its sustainable story – including responsibly sourced materials, environmental impact, fair wage policies, transparency of process and social impact with the added certification that comes from being a B Corp.
“The judges were taken by the ability of Yala’s founder to make a success of the business with so little outside support. Finally and just as importantly in this application, the product is simple, beautiful and honest.”
Best Sustainable Launch: Springbond
Springbond is a new brand, and a new product, to me, but that makes sense considering they won Best Launch! The underlay manufacturer uses recycled single-use plastic to create heat-saving home insulation, which really is ingenious.
The judges said “The panel have chosen Springbond due to the sustainable innovation of an item that is so fundamental to most homes. Each roll of this new underlay material uses a combination of recycled single-use plastics and PET bottles, which aims to combat the 8 million tonnes of plastic thrown into our oceans every year. Further more, Springbond are combating indoor air pollution, which is a huge problem here in the UK, and are 100% recyclable, therefore giving it an infinite lifespan.
“We loved the thoughtful aspects of this material – from start to finish. It’s ability and mission to serve numerous households in becoming more eco-friendly is admirable and impressive.”
Best Sustainable Person: Tabitha James Kraan
If you’re into natural beauty, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of Tabitha James Kraan* and her eponymous haircare. While I haven’t tried much of her range, I do know it’s a favourite among many of my sustainable beauty blogger friends.
The judges said “To produce a product that offers an alternative, whilst re-educating people on how to manage their hair and seek to challenge the lack of industry regulation, our Person of the Year choice is Tabitha James Kraan. Tabitha’s work covers so many important issues, from mitigating plastics to promoting the organic. She is a true inspiration.”
Best Sustainable Restaurant: Pensons
If I’m ever in Worcestershire, I’ll be sure to visit Pensons. Having won this year’s Best Restaurant category, it’s clear that the newly established restaurant makes the most of the countryside estate where it’s established, supporting local people, using local food, and even sourcing local furniture.
The judges said “Pensons is the epitome of a sustainable restaurant, with hyper-local food, investment in local artisans and community, and a view to continuing this same ethos as it establishes itself. There is a well-rounded focus on the wellbeing of staff, community, and guests. Style-wise, the chefs, food, and interior speak for themselves, showcased in a classic rural England style without any unnecessary frills.”
Best Sustainable Skincare: Beauty Kitchen
It’s great to see Beauty Kitchen win this year’s Skincare category, as they’re a brand I’ve been enjoying using recently. Beauty Kitchen is the first natural skincare brand I’ve seen to create refillable bottles, and to set up their refill network through a high street store (Holland & Barrett). My favourite item has to be their body wash, which has a refreshing citrus scent – and I know I won’t be sad when it runs out, as I can simply refill it!
The judges said “Beauty Kitchen have made huge steps to maintain true to their ethos as a fully sustainable brand. [They] have reimagined the supply chain from a consumable one to a durable refill one making it affordable. Their return, refill, repeat initiative is fantastic, making it easy for the customer to reduce their waste. As well as packaging, they’re certified B Corp, donate a portion of sales, their products use 100% natural ingredients and their product is certified and traceable from cradle to cradle.”
Best Sustainable Vegan Brand: Tropic
Time for another beauty brand I already know and love! Tropic Skincare invited me to review a few of their products quite a while ago, and even now it’s one of my most read posts – and for good reason!
The judges said “Tropic Skincare has been a leading vegan beauty brand and they keep getting better. Having recently launched their refillable palettes, they are also now offering refillable serums too. They are certified carbon negative and, since October 2019, they have started working with United World Schools to help give education to children in Cambodia, Nepal and Myanmar. The products are made in the UK, without harmful chemicals and sustainably sourced. All products are recyclable too.”
People’s Choice Award: Kind Jewellery
And finally – it’s always lovely to see a People’s Choice Award winner, and to know what the wider community loves. This year Kind Jewellery won the award, with one entry stating “From their designs to materials to packaging, Kind create beautiful sustainable jewellery with ecologically sound practices at the forefront of their story, website and all their communications.” How lovely!
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