by Lisa O’Neill

One of the coolest aspects of today’s entrepreneurial spirit, in my opinion, has been the plethora of new businesses and organizations built with positive social and/or environmental impact in mind. For many, making a positive difference is indeed THE reason to create a new business. For larger, established brands, their do-good elements are increasing or existing programs receive a bigger megaphone so that target audiences are fully aware of the chosen cause as well as impact. 

Of course, these days, most consumers expect some element of give-back and respect of our natural resources from brands large and small. And, increasingly, consumers are A-OK with paying a bit more to help the planet and people.   

As a member of Generation X, it gives me real hope for the future – for my Gen Z children (who already expect their favorite brands to “do the right thing” in some way) and grandchildren. As these youth join the workforce or create their own businesses, community/global responsibility seems to be in good hands. 

So, I present a few of my favorite brands and organizations who are making a real difference on some scale. Whether they’ve been at it for years such as Ben & Jerry’s or newer players such as Noonday Collection, these folks are doing it right, so go out and support them! 

Girlfriend Collective 

A revolutionary clothing brand, Girlfriend Collective products are all made from post-consumer water bottles sourced from Taiwan, formerly called “Garbage Island.” Not only has Girlfriend Collective helped Taiwan innovatively solve their waste problem, the company has also made a really cute line of clothing that helps you save the planet!

Marketing kudos – This group is working it hard and smart on social media, especially Instagram. The brand embraces women of all sizes and colors and it is clearly a genuine value vs something the founders use as a “PC” marketing play. 

Ben & Jerry’s 

A pioneer in the food sector of social and environmental responsibility. These guys not only showed ice cream aficionados that Americans can also create a premiere quality product (move aside, Haagen Dazs) but combined it with authentic Vermont, nature-loving, eccentric ethos. 

Marketing kudos – The company remains a loud voice in environmental activism since its founding in the late 70s. They ensured that all ingredients were non-GMO as of 2013 and we love that they issue a SEARS report (Social Environmental Assessment Report) via a third party each year. 

Noonday Collection

This jewelry and accessory brand partners with Artisan businesses around the globe to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through fair trade, Noonday Collection helps these businesses to grow sustainably, creating jobs for those in need and more opportunities for women. 

Marketing kudos – The Noonday Collection blog allows shoppers to get an inside look into the beneficial impact of their purchases. Even better, their video blogs showcase the Artisan Partner Businesses as they craft the beautiful jewelry and accessories available for purchase.

Kind Traveler

Choosing between your dream holiday vacation and volunteering during the season of charitable giving? Look no further because Kind Traveler is the first ever socially conscious hotel booking service that empowers travelers to positively impact their vacation destination’s community and environment. 

Marketing kudos – Through this ‘Give + Get’ hotel booking and sustainable travel education platform, travelers receive exclusive hotel rates and perks upon a nightly donation to a local charity that improves the visited destination. You can relax on a beach or enjoy the city’s cultural scene while helping people and the planet.


This vegetarian beauty brand is centered on their commitment to environmental stewardship. Through “naked” handmade products, sustainable sourcing and environmentally conscious packaging, LUSH works diligently to reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint. We love beauty products that help the world as much as they help our skin and wellbeing!

Marketing kudos – Not only are all LUSH packaging 100% post-consumer recycled, compostable and/or biodegradable, their product line features the Charity Pot. With every purchase of the Charity Pot, 100% of the proceeds go to small grassroots organizations working in human rights, animal protection and environmental justice.