The news about global climate change tends to be so bleak, throwing your hands up and doing nothing almost seems like an act of self preservation. But trust us: Philly really can help solve a problem so large that scientists and governments have taken to calling it “the defining challenge of our generation.” And we Philadelphians don’t have to go live off-grid to do it.
Consider this: The average U.S. household can cut their own carbon emissions by 24,000 pounds per year by opting for public transportation, investing in energy efficiency, purchasing green products, and reducing their waste. Now, while public transit might not be an option for everyone, and changing energy sources still can feel like a heavy lift, swapping out Tide pods for sustainable detergent, picking up your — or your child’s — next look at a consignment shop, and dumping your food waste into a bucket are things just about all of us can do.
From cleaning products retailers to clothing designers and baby supply companies, here’s a guide to Philly-based businesses that can help everyone live more sustainably.
Cleaning, Home Goods and Textiles
When Jonathan Propper launched his eco-friendly laundry detergent company Dropps, he had a simple mission: Create plastic-free, laundry detergent. From there, Propper launched the first laundry pods, made a series of hilarious ads, and expanded into other household cleaning products. The Conshohocken-based company estimates they’ve offset 2.7 million carbon emissions and prevented almost 4 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfills. Online.
Wissahickon resident and former costume designer Heidi Barr makes and designs luxurious fabric napkins, linen tablecloths, kitchen towels, aprons and reusable bags using sustainable sourced fabric and recycled menswear. Online.
Emily Rodia and Jason Rusnock So opened Good Buy Supply, Philly’s first retail, refillery on Passyunk Avenue in 2020. Dedicated to selling products and educating “people about making lasting, eco-friendly changes to their own lives,” the chic, spare, natural-feeling general store offers low-waste, plastic free alternatives for your kitchen, bathroom, home and garden. 1737 E. Passyunk Avenue.
Ray Daly’s refillery began in 2020 as a retrofitted van she’d bring to farmers markets and neighborhood pop-ups, selling refillable soaps, shampoos and household cleaning products to help people live plastic-free. Two years later, Daly added a storefront in North Liberties, which carries paperless towels, sustainable food storage, and other kitchen, home and self-care goods. 935 N. 2nd Street.
SHIFT Sustainable Goods + Services brings refilleries to the Main Line. Shoppers can purchase shampoos, conditioners, face creams and a variety of essential cleaning products — and attend workshops on low-waste living, seasonal eating and composting. 252 Haverford Avenue, Narberth.
If you have old clothes that you’re about to throw out or way too many “free” reusable totes from events, FabScrap is the place for you. The nonprofit, founded in Brooklyn, with a Philly location in the BOK building, picks up textile waste and sells it for reuse as insulation or to artisans, designers and makers who transform it into bags, wall art and even new clothes. 1901 S. 9th Street
Dr. Kimberly McGlonn brings her love for textured-fabrics and thrift shop finds to Grant Blvd., a West Philly sustainable boutique and B-Corp that crafts graphic tees, organza trench coats and oh-so-silky leisurewear from deadstock fabrics and upcycled secondhand pieces. In addition to its work with sustainability, the shop is a fair chance employer and advocates for prison reform. Beyoncé’s a fan. You should be too. 3605 Lancaster Avenue
Launched in 1997 with a single store, Greene Street is a collection of 7 brick-and-mortar consignment stores with an emphasis on sustainability scattered throughout Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey. Philly shops are in Chestnut Hill (8524 Germantown Avenue), South Street (700 South Street), and Snyder Plaza (21 Snyder Avenue).
Brother and sister Jordan and Nicole Haddad launched Lobo Mau to put an end to fast fashion. Their streetwear-inspired, geometric patterned clothes are crafted from deadstock fabrics and natural fibers, with an emphasis on using as little plastic as possible during the design-make process. Oh, and they divert 70 percent of their waste from landfills, earning them silver status with the City of Philadelphia’s Zero Waste Partnership. Visit their Bella Vista showroom at 700 S. 6th Street
Delight in naturally designed headbands, scarves, jackets and other accessories at Fishtown’s Modest Transitions. Shop owner Melanie Hasan uses food scraps and forged plants in her naturally dyed designs and teaches workshops on sustainability and fiber arts. 312 E. Girard Avenue
Husband-and-wife duo Joanne Litz and Dennis Wolk launched Steel Pony over 20 years ago, before most people had heard the term “fast fashion,” let alone knew its detriments. Their flowy, hand-dyed designs are made from eco-friendly fabrics and sewn in Philly. 758 South 4th Street
Juju Salon & Organics on Fabric Row uses fume-free hair styling products — getting highlights here actually smells good — and sells beauty products made from sustainable, natural ingredients. Their National Association of Eco-Friendly Spas and Salons and Green Office certified salon is 100 percent wind-powered. 713 S. 4th Street
Former chef Melissa Lynn Torre uses food waste sourced from local businesses — like tallow, a form of beef fat — to create moisturizing soaps, lotions, lips balms that are so good you could eat them. Even the packaging is sustainable, made of recycled glass from Bottle Underground. Available online and in pop-ups.
Philadelphian Bo Zhao’s business Baby Gear Group is a one-stop shop for parents who are sick of ordering expensive items like toys, bassients, baby carriers and strollers — only to have their kids outgrow them before they really get any use out of them. The membership-based service allows parents to rent, rather than buy baby items, with the goal of saving parents money and preventing many of these plastic-based products from ending up in a landfill. Online.
The Mt. Airy-based The Nesting House offers parents with sustainable new-parent staples like cloth diapers and gear rentals alongside gently used toys, clothes and other baby essentials. The company also consigns secondhand goods (up to size 8) to resell onsite, so that those basically unused size newborn onesies from Paris don’t end up in a landfill in Jersey. 542 Carpenter Lane
Krystal Cunillera opened Rutabaga Toy Library in East Falls in 2019 after searching for sustainable, low-waste solutions to buying plastic children’s toys, which too often ended up in the trash when her kids lost interest. Library members — who pay a rate that starts at $45 per month — can check out between four and eight toys at a time for their kids and can then return them for use by other children every four weeks. 3426 Conrad Street
In 2009, Tim Bennett started Bennett Compost with a mission: Make it just as easy for people in high-rise apartments to compost as it is for those living in the countryside. The company picks up composted food waste from more than 5,000 Philly businesses and residents weekly and diverts more than 70 tons of waste from landfills each month. The service costs $200 per year. 5650 Rising Sun Avenue
Circle Compost is a woman-owned composting service that uses bicycle trailers to pick up food scraps from Philadelphia residents. The service costs $12-$18 per month, depending on how frequently you need compost pickup. You can even recycle your Christmas tree through them.
Want to recycle batteries? What about old wine corks or lightbulbs? Rabbit Recycling is for you.
For $13-$15, the company will pick up a 5-gallon bucket of speciality items and recycle them for you (and your neighbors, if they want to chip in). 2904 Ellsworth Street
This no-waste delivery service, The Rounds’ bike couriers brings dry pantry goods, kitchen staples like olive oil, and cleaning supplies, all packed in reusable glass jars, to your door. When you run out of a product, simply place the jar outside on your selected delivery day, and the company will pick it up and wash it for reuse. The Philly-born company now also serves Washington, D.C. and Miami. Online.
MORE LOCAL SHOPS TO SUPPORT AND SUSTAIN PHILLY