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4 Brands Going Zero-Waste For Gen Z & Millennials

From apparel to personal care, indie up-and-comers and big brands alike are cleaning up industries with recyclable alternatives and reusable packaging that appeals to eco-conscious young shoppers…

Young consumers’ interest in helping the environment impacts their purchases. Though their relationship to eco-friendly products is sometimes complicated, they undoubtedly want brands to provide environmentally-friendly products, with half of 13-36-year-olds saying they’re more likely to buy a product described as “sustainable,” and 46% of 13-36-year-olds saying they’re more likely to buy a product described as eco-friendly. According to a report from The Shelton Group, nine in ten Millennials are not only more likely to purchase ethical brands but to recommend them to their friends, too.

For these eco-minded young consumers, zero-waste is perhaps the biggest recent buzzword of environmentalism. The plastic straw was a major symbol of this movement last year, with Millennials and Gen Z revolting against plastic by instigating the #StopSucking movement, which aimed to get brands and companies to drop useless plastic straws. Companies as far-reaching as Starbucks, Disney, Hyatt, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, SeaWorld, and more pledged to ditch the plastic straw in response. As zero-waste remains the cause du jour, it has begun influencing their purchasing decisions, and more brands are making massive changes—beyond straw sacrifices—to get closer to a plastic-free future. Here are four who are going zero-waste in a major way to appeal to young consumers:

Trader Joe’s

In response to an online petition, this beloved grocery brand started 2019 with an announcement that they’ll be making “packaging improvements” that will eliminate more than one million pounds of plastic from their stores. While they reported that their plastic packaging was already “the highest recyclability acceptance rate in the U.S.,” the brand pledged to instead make changes to focus on reducing plastic use altogether. According to Grub Street, the effort will begin by no longer offering single-use plastic bags, replacing produce bags and Styrofoam packaging with compostable options, and avoiding packaging with BPA. Next steps include replacing even more in-store plastic and Styrofoam items, from flower bags to trays.



Nestlé, Tide, PepsiCo, and more major brands are rolling out reusable packaging for environmentally conscious consumers. The Wall Street Journal reports that these big names are experimenting with reduced waste models thanks to recycling company TerraCycle, a company that partners with consumers and brands alike to “collect and recycle almost any form of waste.” Their Loop e-commerce platform is described as “a circular shopping platform that transforms the packaging of your everyday essentials from single-use disposable to durable, feature-packed designs.” For this effort, five thousand customers in Paris and NYC will be able to order Axe and Dove deodorants, Tropicana orange juice, and more in reusable glass or steel containers—once they’re empty, the containers will be picked up, cleaned, and returned—like a modern-day, eco-conscious milkman. TerraCycle envisions a future in which all product packaging can be returned to retailers in store or online, to expand the reusable project’s reach.



Lush is a cosmetics company with eco-consciousness built into their DNA. The brand was founded to create products that don’t test on animals and are made from natural ingredients with little packaging. It’s a mission that has helped earn them a spot on the list of brands that young consumers think do the most social good. But now, the beauty brand is taking steps towards nixing packaging altogether, letting customers view product labels via their augmented reality app instead. The brand that’s gone viral for their environmental efforts is launching a new store where all items will be unwrapped. At their aptly-named Naked stores, shoppers use the Lush Lens in their #LushLabs app to scan bath bombs, shampoo bars, and more for product details. The brand’s activation at SXSW this week showcased the zero-waste shopping experience, with “digitaly packaged” bath bombs available for sale.



Adidas is going zero-waste for environmentally-conscious young consumers, vowing to switch to recycled plastics by 2024. According to Uproxx, they’ll no longer purchase “virgin” plastics for everything from their products to their offices and warehouses, saving an estimated 40 tons of plastic annually. Their pledge includes athletic apparel’s favorite fabric polyester—which is used in everything from sports bras to tees. This may be Adidas’s most ambitious foray into eco-conscious territory, but it isn’t their first. Their Parley shoes are already created using ocean waste that they divert from reaching the water, and the accompanying apparel line will be made out of 41% recycled polyester.