Sustainable Innovation Awards 2023: GH’s Top Sustainable Picks

Here at Good Housekeeping, we have a long history of leading conversations and supporting change to help the environment — and that includes finding more ways for you to add to your sustainable lifestyle.

Save the date! On June 22, 2023, join us for our annual sustainability summit, Raise the Green Bar, held by the Good Housekeeping Institute and Made Safe, a nonprofit that celebrates nontoxic ingredients. It’s a great way to learn how to make the most sustainable choices when shopping, eating, cleaning, traveling and more. The event will be free and open to all — check back soon for details on how to register.

For our fourth annual Sustainable Innovation Awards, our pros and scientists joined with field experts to evaluate a wide range of products and solutions that simplify making greener choices at home. We found trustworthy brands — for home, beauty, bedding, tech, food and more — that are working to change the way they produce and package goods. Check out all the winners below!

Meet the Judges

How We Tested

First, our Lab pros and field experts assessed entries submitted for consideration on a wide range of criteria, including:

  • Energy, water and waste reduction
  • Recycled content, recyclability and reusability of packaging
  • Corporate social responsibility efforts and goals for carbon neutrality, zero waste and more

Next, our analysts tested the products firsthand to ensure that they would actually perform in real life. We evaluated them for factors like ease of use, comfort, functionality of packaging, durability and product efficacy during intended use. These winners impressed our judges in terms of both sustainability efforts and product efficacy.

bedroom breakthroughs

Bedroom Breakthroughs

Farmer-Friendly Bedsheets

Organic Crinkled Percale Sheets

Coyuchi Organic Crinkled Percale Sheets

Our judges were impressed by Coyuchi’s involvement with the Organic Cotton Accelerator’s Farmer Engagement and Development Programme, through which the company pays premiums to organic farmers and serves as a confirmed buyer. This gives small farmers peace of mind because it means they won’t require risky loans to stay afloat.

LAB RESULTS: “This initiative is significant, because shifting from traditional to organic agriculture can be a burden to farmers,” says judge Brown. Plus, Coyuchi’s products have performed well in our tests and judge Sachs notes, “Coyuchi is recognized as one of the best truly organic bedding brands.”

Mighty Mattress

Natural Escape Mattress

My Green Mattress Natural Escape Mattress

My Green Mattress lives up to its name by sourcing organic materials like cotton, wool and latex from green supply chains instead of using memory foam and other petroleum-based materials. It has both GOTS and GOLS organic certifications.

LAB RESULTS: “The trusted certifications mean the entire manufacturing process follows strict standards,” says Sachs. Our testers also give this brand high ratings, proving you don’t have to give up support for a greener bed. “I have all of the support of a firm bed with the comfort of a soft one,” raved one.

Plush Pillow

Recycled Down Pillow

Parachute Recycled Down Pillow

Parachute offers a novel way to prevent waste: The company sanitizes the down fill from its returned pillows and uses it to stuff these pillows housed in cotton shells that are 70% recycled cotton. The fabric is also undyed, so it maintains this natural ecru color.

LAB RESULTS: “I love this concept,” says Sachs. “Many online bedding brands offer free returns, and I think it’s great that Parachute is finding ways to recycle the returns.” Testers loved how plush these pillows felt and how fluffy they remained with use. “Many other down pillows I have tried in the past would be totally flat by now,” said one.

Luxurious Sheets

Signature Hemmed Sheet Set

Boll & Branch Signature Hemmed Sheet Set

Boll & Branch produces traceable organic bedsheets by working directly with farms and factories. The brand’s sheets are both high-quality and fully organic, so you won’t have to sacrifice comfort. This set comes in nine neutral colors to match any bedroom.

LAB RESULTS: “Boll & Branch has taken the time to explore best practices in the textile industry,” says Fitzgerald. “Their sustainable standards are carried through their entire product process.” Our Lab tests showed that the generous sizing allows for shrinkage in the wash, and the fitted sheet’s deep pockets provide a secure fit when the bed is made. Testers also rated the fabric as soft in a blind comparison test.

clever personal care

Clever Personal Care

Powder-Based Body Wash

Body Wash Starter Set

Blueland Body Wash Starter Set

Now 10% Off

Blueland’s smart body wash starter set comes with a reusable plastic bottle and either one or three concentrated refills. The gel wash starts out as a sulfate-free powder that comes in a paper packet. The product model avoids single-use plastics and requires less energy for shipping than traditional body washes with water mixed in, which are heavier.

LAB RESULTS: “I have been using the raspberry hibiscus variant in my shower, and it generates ample creamy lather and feels gentle on skin,” says judge Aral. Our pros were also pleased with the performance of Blueland’s hand soap, which earned a Sustainable Innovation Award in 2020.

Ethical Tresses

Hair Extensions

Great Lengths Hair Extensions

This Italian company is the first hair-extension producer with B Corporation certification,
meaning it meets high standards for environmental practices. The extensions are sourced through voluntary donations in India, and the company donates wigs to children with hair loss.

LAB RESULTS: “The extensions are sold and applied at high-end salons nationwide, so we believe they are of superb quality,” Aral says. Our panel was also pleased to note that Great Lengths is renovating its production plant to draw power from wind and solar energy and to include new generation boilers that reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon-Conscious Face Cream

Cleanformance Moisture Glow Cream

Doctor Babor Cleanformance Moisture Glow Cream

Doctor Babor achieved carbon-neutral production in 2014 and now has an electric-only company-car policy. It plans to slash carbon emissions by 50% by 2025 via purchasing offsets and achieving reductions.

LAB RESULTS: CleanFormance Moisture Glow Cream “instantly softens skin, and it leaves a subtle sheen,” says Aral. “In addition, each product’s box includes information on what the ingredients are derived from and what they are used for.” Fitzgerald adds that Doctor Babor’s secondary packaging uses Forest Stewardship Council–certified paperboard.

Refillable Brow Gel

Zero Waste Eyebrow Gel

Izzy Zero Waste Eyebrow Gel

Izzy products arrive at your door in the brand’s signature reusable mailer, which you can use to send back the containers when you’re ready for a refill. The company says its brow gel’s medical-grade stainless steel tube can be cleaned and refilled more than 10,000 times.

LAB RESULTS: Our Beauty Lab experts found that the brow gel tamed brows with a light hold without making them stiff. They are also fans of the the brand’s Zero Waste Mascara, which earned a 2021 Sustainable Innovation Award.

Allover Balm

Multi-purpose Balm with 3 Avocado Extracts

Mustela Multi-purpose Balm with 3 Avocado Extracts

Mustela’s Multi-Purpose Balm with 3 Avocado Extracts helps reduce food waste by processing avocados that would otherwise be tossed into highly concentrated extracts for an allover balm. It’s packaged in an aluminum tube that can be recycled multiple times.

LAB RESULTS: “This fast-absorbing balm softens skin upon soaking in, leaving it feeling smooth,” says Aral. “We also like that Mustela is a leader of the B Beauty Coalition, helping to unify what sustainable means for self-care products.”

Concentrated Mouthwash

Mouthwash Concentrate Starter Kit

Listerine Mouthwash Concentrate Starter Kit

Listerine’s 100-ml bottles of mouthwash concentrate use 60% less plastic than the original 500-ml bottle. You simply add water and the concentrate to the reusable large bottle.

LAB RESULTS: “I give credit to parent company Johnson & Johnson for its carbon-reduction efforts, including employing renewable energy,” Brown says. “I am excited to see innovations from familiar drugstore brands that will move the dial because of their scale, ” adds Aral.

Reusable Compact

Cheeky Clean Cream Blush

Beautycounter Cheeky Clean Cream Blush

Beautycounter’s elegant compact uses 100% postconsumer recycled (PCR) resin. Its refillable design not only helps the company reduce its carbon footprint but also saves water and other resources in production.

LAB RESULTS: Our pros say the refills pop in and out easily, and the eight colors work for a range of complexions. We praised the brand for its refillable deodorant, The Clean Deo, in our 2021 Sustainable Innovation Awards.

Potent Cleansing Powders

Concentrated Cleansing Powders

Seed Phytonutrients Concentrated Cleansing Powders

These concentrated cleansing powders for face, body and hair (shown) are long-lasting for their 2-oz size and require less energy to ship than products containing water. Their compactness and lack of water also make them a great companion for air travel.

LAB RESULTS: “I have used the line’s clarifying shampoo, exfoliating body cleansing powder and purifying facial cleansing powder for over six months now,” reports Aral. “Each product kept pouring well even after being stored in a wet shower environment for weeks.”

plant based pioneers

Plant-Based Pioneers

Pea Protein Powder

Essential Protein Powder

Ritual Essential Protein Powder

Ritual is shaking up protein powder. It sources organic and traceable American peas that are produced using regenerative farming techniques, then adds responsibly harvested vanilla and sustainably grown fermented sugarcane. And the company is B Corp certified.

LAB RESULTS: Rated as one of our best vegan protein powders, Ritual’s Essential Protein Powder received top scores across the board for its flavor profile and how well it mixed with a variety of liquids. “It’s a great-tasting protein powder that blends well, even with just plain coconut water,” says judge Sassos. “The company is clearly passionate about sourcing — including providing detailed tracing on its website,” she adds.

Organically Grown Rice

Organic White Jasmine Rice

Lundberg Family Farms Organic White Jasmine Rice

Since 1937, Lundberg Family Farms has been committed to the sustainable creation of rice and quinoa products. Its operations are powered and offset by 100% renewable energy, and 74% of its acreage is dedicated to organic farming.

LAB RESULTS: “Lundberg has addressed important supply-chain aspects, including ecosystem diversity and water use,” says judge Hall. “They have also taken a big step in shifting their packaging to single-stream plastic.” Our registered dietitians point out that the rice and quinoa varieties are premium quality too.

Upcycled Tortilla Chips

Chips (3-pack)

Kazoo Snacks Chips (3-pack)

Kazoo Snacks has made a significant change to the standard process for producing tortilla chips: It upcycles corn germ that would otherwise have become animal feed — meaning it uses resources already dedicated to growing corn, so less water is required.

LAB RESULTS: The chips did well in our taste tests and paired well with a variety of dips and spreads. They earned top scores for balanced flavor, and tasters said they had great crunch. “This product is delicious, and the water and energy savings are substantial,” says Hall, “and they are also making a real effort to reduce the impact of a crop that has a huge environmental footprint.”

Nutritious Sweet Snacks

Sweet Thins

Watermelon-seed flour gives these Simple Mills Sweet Thins their light, craveable texture, and growing watermelon can help farmers limit soil erosion. Also, Simple Mills has invested in a multiyear project to train more than 1,300 farmers in regenerative agriculture practices.

LAB RESULTS: “The brand is designing products that create demand for ingredients that help diversify agriculture,” says Sassos. And we’ve found all three flavors — Chocolate Brownie (shown), Mint Chocolate and Honey Cinnamon — to be delicious. Our registered dietitians also appreciate Simple Mills’ transparency when it comes to how the company showcases the ingredient list on packaging.

Hearty Hemp-Seed Patty

Green Chili Southwest Hemp Burgers

Planet Based Foods Green Chili Southwest Hemp Burgers

Our judges deemed the burgers delicious, but the real achievement is that the hemp in them can grow in hotter temperatures while requiring less water than other crops. Hemp also is a carbon-sequestering plant that is helpful to the environment.

LAB RESULTS: “Each burger packs 19 g of plant-based protein, comparable to many animal-based patties,” says Sassos. “It’s also an incredibly rich source of fiber and nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium and essential fatty acids.” The combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats make this nutrient-dense burger super satiating too.

Vegan Egg Alternative

Plant-Based Scramble

JUST Plant-Based Scramble

JUST Egg’s mung bean–based egg substitute cracked this list in 2021, and it’s back again thanks to the company’s processing practices, which require less land and water than are needed to raise chickens for conventional eggs and produce fewer carbon emissions.

LAB RESULTS: Our nutrition experts say it scrambles similarly to regular eggs and offers fair nutritional value, noting that this scramble is free from cholesterol and packs in 5 g of protein per serving. We found that it worked well in a variety of recipes too, from frittatas to French toast. “It’s a good option for vegans and non-vegans alike,” says Sassos.

Innovative Açai Bowl

Mango Passionfruit Açaí Bowl

Sambazon Mango Passionfruit Açaí Bowl

For a portable and plastic-free breakfast or snack, grab Sambazon’s Ready-to-Eat Açaí Bowl. The smoothie bowl’s container is made with 100% plant-derived materials and is recyclable, which helps minimize waste in landfills.

LAB RESULTS: “The packaging is a breakthrough,” says Brown. “Previous plant-based packaging couldn’t be recycled easily.” When it comes to nutrition, our dietitians point out that this USDA organic offering is also vegan and an excellent source of vitamin C. Plus, it has considerably less sugar than traditional açaí bowls, even with all the toppings included.

conscientious home gear

Conscientious Home Gear

Compact Washer

WFTV10733XC 24" Front-Load Washer with Recycled Tub

Beko WFTV10733XC 24″ Front-Load Washer with Recycled Tub

Beko’s innovative washing machine with RecycledTub is the first home appliance to be produced with recycled water bottles — there are up to 60 in each wash tub.

LAB RESULTS: “In our tests, neither cleaning performance nor fabric care was compromised by the new tub material, and the machine is Energy Star certified,” says Forté. “This model offers a wide assortment of high-end cycles and features, like pet care and steam, and the controls are easy to navigate.”

Sturdy Paper Towels

90% Recycled Paper Towels

Simple Human 90% Recycled Paper Towels

Simplehuman’s paper towels are made of 90% recycled material, of which 40% is post-consumer recycled (PCR) paper from sources such as U.S. office waste. The outcome: reduced water use and carbon emissions compared with making traditional paper towels.

LAB RESULTS: Most recycled paper towels don’t perform as well as non-recycled options, but these were surprisingly soft and absorbent after textiles analysts used them for months for drying hands, cleaning surfaces and more. Sachs also notes, “Recycled paper towels are considered more sustainable than bamboo versions because they prevent waste and they aren’t using new resources.”

Plant-Fiber Scrub Sponge

Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrubber (3 pack)

Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrubber (3 pack)

Scotch-Brite is cleaning up its processing with sponges made from 100% plant-based fiber with a 100% recycled-material scrubbing layer. The company has also removed plastic packaging from its Greener Clean line, which includes more scrubbers.

LAB RESULTS: Our GH Cleaning Lab found the scrubbers to be effective and long-lasting dish and cookware cleaners. “They’re gentle enough to remove buildup and stuck-on bits from nonstick cookware without damage,” says Forté.

Efficient Dryer

Eco & Steam Heat Pump Dryer TXI680WP

Miele Eco & Steam Heat Pump Dryer TXI680WP

German brand Miele, a GH Seal holder that has performed well across tests for years, offers a compact dryer that uses a heat pump, a system that requires less energy to dry clothes than traditional dryers do. This dryer offers a wide assortment of cycles and options to care for even the most delicate fabrics, including steam for de-wrinkling and refreshing as well as Wi-Fi connectivity for remote access.

LAB RESULTS: “This dryer offers a variety of useful cycles and options, including an energy-use monitor on the display,” says Forté. “And it offers the ability to drain the condensate from a hose or into the chamber.” She also notes that this dryer has a surprisingly large capacity for its small overall footprint and that it dried quickly and thoroughly in Cleaning Lab tests.

waste busters

Waste Busters

Steel Reboot

TKWide Insulated Water Bottle with Chug Cap

Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Water Bottle with Chug Cap

This B-Corporation company uses certified 90% postconsumer recycled stainless steel in its water bottles, travel mugs and reusable straws. By the end of 2023, 95% of its products will be made with recycled steel.

LAB RESULTS: “Recycled content of 90% in stainless steel is unusual and sets a new bar in the bottle category and beyond,” Brown says. This 32-ounce water bottle is recommended as one of our best water bottles. Our pros particularly like it for hiking: The large carrying handle can clip onto a backpack, and the wide mouth makes it easy to fill and clean. In addition to the chug cap (shown), you can choose a twist, straw, café or loop cap.

Eco-Minded Earbuds

Skullcandy Jib True 2 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Skullcandy Skullcandy Jib True 2 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Skullcandy has diverted nearly 600,000 pounds of e-waste from landfills thanks to its RePlay program, which upcycles headphones and wireless earbuds returned by retailers and customers — any brand! — into refurbished products and recycles those that can’t be upcycled.

LAB RESULTS: We found that even with the upcycled materials, sound quality wasn’t compromised. Finding a truly wireless in-ear for this cost and eco-consciousness impressed our tech pros, and they appreciated the lightweight, pocketable design.

Sensible Skillet

Valencia Pro Hard Anodized Ceramic Nonstick 16-Piece Set

GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard Anodized Ceramic Nonstick 16-Piece Set

GreenPan makes cookware with strict quality-assurance procedures to ensure the absence of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium and endocrine-disrupting fluorinated compounds from its ceramic nonstick coating.

LAB RESULTS: Our experts like the brand’s use of certified recycled aluminum, which preserves the earth’s resources and minimizes waste. In addition, the pros in the Kitchen Appliances Lab have recommended a GreenPan cookware set as our best overall ceramic nonstick pick. They praised the pans’ sturdiness, glass lids and ability to handle high heat — the pans are broiler- and oven-safe up to 600ºF.

Recyclable Mailers

Flourish Honeycomb Recyclable Mailers

Duck Brand Flourish Honeycomb Recyclable Mailers

Flourish offers an alternative to plastic mailing supplies with a line of recycled and curbside-recyclable shipping products. Some are made of 100% recycled material; all are created using responsible forestry practices.

LAB RESULTS: The products met a range of needs in our review, from packing items with honeycomb wrap to nestling goods in spiral fills. “Padded envelopes are my personal pet peeve,” says Hall, “so I’m delighted to see this option, which raises the bar for the entire sector.”

Durable Decking

Advanced PVC Decking Landmark Collection

TimberTech Advanced PVC Decking Landmark Collection

The Azek Company repurposes materials like vinyl siding and PVC pipes into decking that keeps trash out of landfills and is warrantied to resist fading and staining for 50 years — and then be recyclable itself. TimberTech’s Advanced PVC Decking collection is made from approximately 60% recycled materials. It comes in four colors, including a rich walnut and a French white oak that’s in keeping with the trend toward lighter-toned decks.

LAB RESULTS: “This decking proved extremely durable and low-maintenance in our tests, thanks to capped-polymer technology,” says judge DiClerico. It was particularly scratch- and dent-resistant, so it should hold up to the scraping of patio furniture and other abuse that can take a toll over time. DiClerico also noted that TimberTech’s is one of the better-looking composite decking products to have come through our Labs.

Innovative Fillers

Insulations and Fabrics

PrimaLoft Insulations and Fabrics

PrimaLoft creates synthetic insulations for apparel, bedding and accessories that are used by 950 brands, so its sustainability efforts have the ability to make a big impact. Over half of its insulation offerings are made from 100% recycled materials.

LAB RESULTS: Our Textiles Lab pros call PrimaLoft a leader in the space and say its materials will keep you warm without adding weight. Fitzgerald also notes, “PrimaLoft walks the walk by using post-consumer recycled plastic in its products; creating materials designed to be recycled, reused and renewed; and using renewable manufacturing technology reducing its carbon footprint.”

Unique Utensils

Cutlery Combo Set

AirCarbon Cutlery Combo Set

Single-use straws, utensils and serveware have gotten attention lately, and for good reason — they create a lot of waste. Newlight Technologies offers a more sensible alternative with its carbon-negative-certified AirCarbon Foodware.

LAB RESULTS: Our judges appreciate that the products are not only reusable but also compatible with both hot and cold foods. They found them to be a good alternative to paper straws, which break down too quickly during use, and metal straws, which can pose a safety hazard. The forks, knives and spoons are sold separately in packs of 24 or as a 24-piece set (shown). The line also includes compostable straws, plates and bowls.

Climate-Friendly Pet Food

Roasted Peanut Butter & Sweet Potato Flavor Baked Food for Adult Dogs

Petaluma Roasted Peanut Butter & Sweet Potato Flavor Baked Food for Adult Dogs

Petaluma focuses on its “environmental pawprint” with plant-based dog food produced using ingredients from organic farms baked in ovens that run on solar power. The company is also part of 1% for the Planet.

LAB RESULTS: We like that Petaluma’s staff has worked with veterinary experts to ensure that its products are nutritionally balanced. Plus, the brand regularly conducts laboratory testing of its food to measure the amount of every essential nutrient as defined by the AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) and publishes the test results on its website.

baby boon

Baby Boon

Efficient Baby Carrier

Aerloom Formaknit Stretch Baby Carrier

Ergobaby Aerloom Formaknit Stretch Baby Carrier

Ergobaby creates its Aerloom baby carrier using 87% postconsumer recycled polyester — the company claims that up to 26 plastic water bottles are in each carrier — to keep waste out of landfills. The brand also utilizes 3D knitting to form every panel to shape, which helps reduce the amount of resources used and avoids the excess material generation of some other forms of production.

LAB RESULTS: “What stands out to me,” says Sachs, “is the knitting process, which creates less scrap waste during production. I haven’t seen another baby carrier company that focuses on this type of waste reduction.” Plus, it’s a top-rated carrier in our tests. One tester liked the way the buckle at the back helped distribute the weight and appreciated the pocket for keys or small items.

Reusable Diaper

Reusable Cloth Diaper System

Charlie Banana Reusable Cloth Diaper System

Charlie Banana’s reusable cloth diapers help reduce waste generated by disposable diapers. They grow with your baby from 0 to 36 months thanks to clever snap placement and adjustable leg elastic. They’re also Oeko-Tex certified by Standard 100, which means they don’t contain unsafe levels of known harmful chemicals.

LAB RESULTS: One tester gave the diapers top marks for fit, absorbency and leak protection. “Adjusting to the right size is easy, and they fit perfectly,” she said. “I didn’t have any issues with leaks or blowouts.” Testers also liked that the diapers are soft and come in bright colors.

Biodegradable Baby Wipes

The Wipe (4 packs of 56 wipes)

Coterie The Wipe (4 packs of 56 wipes)

Coterie’s baby wipes use Veocel Lyocell, a plant-derived fiber that is also biodegradable. They’re sourced responsibly, and the serum features ingredients that are 99% water with 1% active ingredients.

LAB RESULTS: Our Textiles Lab director praised the wipes — which also earned a 2021 Parenting Award — for being large and sufficiently wet to tackle all kinds of big messes. Says Fitzgerald, “Wipes are one of the biggest convenience products on the market. Coterie has created a product that breaks down very quickly when it’s composted.”

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