A woman in a grocery store pulls down a lever on a wall-mounted container to fill a jar with grains. The wall-mounted container is one of several in a row. Beneath the containers are large labeled jars filled with more grains and rice. Each jar has a metal scoop in front of it. The woman has shoulder-length blonde hair and wears a yellow-and-white striped shirt. A white tote bag hangs off one of her shoulders.
Zero-waste shops allow customers to bring containers from home and refill them with food, soap, and anything else that would normally come stored in plastic. — Getty Images/Dougal Waters

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and falls on the same date each year. The theme for 2023 is “Invest in our Planet.” Here are five small businesses that take this theme very seriously and exist to preserve the environment.

Cute Root

Cute Root is a greeting card company that actually gives more back to the earth than it takes. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and made in Tennessee, Cute Root cards are made out of 100% recycled post-consumer material and flower seeds. After a thoughtful message is received, these cards can be planted and bloom into beautiful wildflower assortments. Additionally, every order plants a tree. In partnership with Ecologi, Cute Root has planted 40,972 trees, prevented 10.5 tons of carbon pollution, and funded four climate projects in different corners of the world.

Cute Root blossomed out of a mission to make people happy and has been delivering meaningful notes from one to another since 2020. There is a card for almost every occasion, and custom orders are available for businesses and weddings.

Swanson’s Fabrics

Kathryn Greenwood Swanson has created a cyclical way to get pre-owned fabrics and textiles from retired crafters to the next generation of artisans. Located in the small town of Turner Falls, Massachusetts, Swanson’s Fabrics collects donations from communities near and far, allowing for extremely low resell prices. Swanson guarantees that all fabrics are $4 per yard, no matter the material, and even allows customers to barter goods and services. Swanson’s brick-and-mortar is open to the public, the online shop is updated weekly, and the store hosts a number of workshops and events each month.

Swanson predicts that industrial textiles will never be as high quality as they have been in the last century. She also scrutinizes the increasing cost of yarn and other fibers that people need in order to make their own clothes. Her hope is that Swanson’s Fabrics can not only keep these valuable resources out of landfills, but also bridge the gap between then and now to pass on the affordability and accessibility of yore that encouraged home-sewn fashion.

Bee’s Wrap

Wanting to find an alternative to plastic food storage, Sarah Kaeck was inspired by bees, and invented this completely compostable solution. Made with four natural ingredients (organic cotton, beeswax, organic plant oil, and tree resin), Bee’s Wrap is the environmentally conscious replacement for plastic wrap. One piece can be reused for up to a year then composted or used as a fire starter to return to the earth in ash form. The company estimates that if every American household used Bee’s Wrap, we would prevent 4.8 million acres of plastic wrap from polluting the planet each year.

In addition to producing this eco-friendly product, Bee’s Wrap donates 1% of all Honeycomb Roll sales to the Bee Cause Project to spread awareness and protect the bees.

Cute Root blossomed out of a mission to make people happy and has been delivering meaningful notes from one to another since 2020.

Sun & Swell

A family-owned health foods store hailing from sunny Southern California, Sun & Swell is on a quest to make grab-and-go snacks whole again. Kate and Bryan Flynn began their journey in 2016 after changing their diets for the better. They quickly realized that the whole foods they wanted in snack-sized portions were not only loaded with additives to preserve them, but they were also packaged in plastic. Thus, the duo’s pursuit to revolutionize the to-go snack variety began.

To address the limited number of healthy snack options available, the Flynns mostly source from domestic family farms and all ingredients are 100% organic, vegan, and gluten-free. In order to tackle the overuse of plastic packaging, Sun & Swell use a ​​Stand-Up-Pouch made of commercially compostable laminate, T.LAM 604. The company also has a send-back program to facilitate proper composting and keep the snack pouches out of the trash.

Fill Up Buttercup

Jamie Lake, a California native and self-proclaimed hippie, is the owner of the nontoxic, zero-waste shop, Fill Up Buttercup. When her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Lake began disposing of his toxic household and toiletry products. She got rid of her own in the process and soon noticed her health improving. Also disheartened by the sizable amount of litter she finds washed up on the beach, Lake combined these passions and conjured up the idea of a shop where like-minded individuals can bring containers from home to refill their soaps, lotions, and cleaners.

The flagship Fill Up Buttercup store is located in Costa Mesa, California. A second storefront opened up down the street in Huntington Beach this year.

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