Headshot of Lauren Gropper, founder of Repurpose.
Lauren Gropper, founder of Repurpose, has spent a decade building and growing her line of compostable, plastic-free dinner sets. — Repurpose

Lauren Gropper, founder of Repurpose, wants aspiring entrepreneurs to be persistent and never give up when trying to reach a goal — especially when that goal is to save the planet.

Repurpose began as a culmination of experiences that spanned from the East to the West Coast. Gropper started working in Manhattan to ensure the sustainability of skyscrapers before she was recruited to Hollywood to work as a sustainability consultant for Discovery Communications.

Despite her best efforts, Gropper watched as both certified-green film sets and office buildings began to fill up with plastic. Her frustration helped launch her into entrepreneurship as the founder of Repurpose.

“Repurpose creates plant-based, compostable alternatives to everyday products,” explained Gropper. “While reusable products may remind you of soggy, paper straws or flimsy plates, Repurpose redefines both of these essentials and more.”

[Read more: Five Small Business Owners on Practicing Sustainability]

Closing the sustainability loop

Like many other eco-friendly brands, Repurpose processes its materials with methods that release fewer greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals into the environment than conventional plastic and paper. What makes this company stand out, though, is its use of upcycled, renewable materials to create its strong, leakproof compostable dinnerware.

Always raise more money than you think you need, and give yourself more time to raise it than you actually think you need.

Lauren Gropper, founder, Repurpose

“Repurpose products have a lower carbon footprint than comparable non-compostable products,” said Gropper. “Repurpose uses renewable ingredients like corn, upcycled wood pulp and sugar cane. These upcycled materials are leftovers from manufacturing that would otherwise go directly to waste.”

In addition to using materials that might otherwise be discarded, Repurpose closes the sustainability loop with products that are safe and beneficial to the environment even after they’ve been used. In fact, Repurpose’s composted products can be used to help fertilize crops for future use, said Gropper.

Repurpose’s plastic-free products don’t contain common toxins like BPA, chlorine, PBDE and bleach, making its colorful, reusable dinner sets perfect for families with young children.

Patience and persistence pay off

While Gropper has achieved success with Repurpose, it didn’t happen overnight. She has spent the last decade growing her business and reminds other entrepreneurs that this journey may take more time and resources than anticipated.

“Always raise more money than you think you need, and give yourself more time to raise it than you actually think you need,” she said. “I used to hear it takes double the time you think it will, and that you should raise double the funds you think you need — and it’s all true!”

[Read more: Green Business Ideas]

As for the future of Repurpose, the company will be releasing new backyard-compostable products, including plant-based cling wrap, sandwich bags and bamboo toilet paper and paper towels. Gropper also intends to “find new and better ingredients, [reduce] the cost to consumers and [move] manufacturing to the United States.”

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Published September 17, 2021