To celebrate International Friendship Day, we’ve explored some of the most exciting sustainable businesses to launch over the last few years, all established through the collaborative power of friends

It takes a special kind of friendship and relationship to be able to go into (and conquer!) business together but, for some, it seems as though this is the ticket to changing the world, one idea at a time. From leading initiatives in saving pollution from reaching our oceans to encouraging people to buy more consciously, it turns out that there are many friends-turned-entrepreneurs that are smashing it in the sustainability and companionship stakes. Let’s meet them.

Zanna Van Dijk and Natalie Glaze
Of Stay Wild Swim

Sometimes, the best ideas come about over a spot of brunch – exactly where the initial idea for Stay Wild Swim came about from two friends’ wishes and chats about giving back to the ocean. Having grown up scuba diving, snorkelling and spending time by the water, both Natalie and Zanna developed a strong connection with the sea and are therefore incredibly passionate about respecting and protecting it. Stay Wild Swim, a sustainable swimwear brand that uses fishing nets pulled from the ocean in its fabric, is their passion project. It allows them the opportunity to not only fight the marine plastic problem but actively contribute to the solution. Their pieces are made through the most responsible practices possible, but they are also focused on being designed to flatter every woman. 

Will Smith and Peter Kirby
Of Tred

Officially launched this year by friends Will Smith and Peter Kirby, Tred is a new debit card made from recycled ocean plastic that not only tracks your spending, but tracks your carbon footprint as well. With Monzo-style notifications, each time you spend on the card, the corresponding app will translate your action into the environmental impact. The first in the UK, the card could be a game-changer for helping people to make small lifestyle changes and understand the impacts of climate change more easily. Sounds like a pretty great idea, right? Seemingly, great ideas often come about when two friends can recognise the different skill sets each one has to bring to a partnership. For Will and Peter, this is exactly how the story went, with each of them taking charge of a different element of the start-up. For more about their incredible idea, take a look at our interview with them here

Marcella and Melissa Wijngaarden and Noor Veenhoven
Of Project Cece

After sisters Marcella and Melissa met Noor at University studying physics and economics between them, they bonded over their passion for changing the course of fast fashion and the impacts the fashion industry has on the planet. Having realised the environmental and humanitarian cost of fast fashion, the friends set about creating a platform for conscious and ethical brands. Project Cece stands for Project Conscious Clothing and is a search engine for responsible clothing. Last year, it actually became the largest marketplace for ethical fashion in Europe. They ​collect the unique ranges of more than 100 ethical fashion stores and well over 200 fair trade brands, resulting in 25,000 products. 

Adam Thorpe and Christian Evans

Founded by friends, Adam and Christian, ARKS is all about building environmentally focused, sustainable and inspirational homes. They both felt there was a gap in the market to combine planetary need with their wish for luxury spaces. Their unique off-grid models are derived from the idea of like-minded individuals coming together to form a community inspired by nature, sat within natural landscapes. Designed and manufactured with a priority of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a goal of being fully carbon neutral, the energy efficiency of ARKS homes is a really important aspect of the design, from the way in which the units are heated to the insulation technology used.

Bella Mossman and Ffion Boyesen

Setting up a business is impressive enough. Setting up a sustainable and ethical business, even more so. Setting up a business with your best friend is scary (constant nightmares of falling out, ruining decades of love, you get me?). Setting up a sustainable business with your best friend in lockdown and in the middle of a global pandemic, well, that’s more than impressive. But it’s exactly what lifelong friends Bella and Ffion have achieved. With a dream to give women the sleepwear they deserve, all ethically made using only sustainable material so that they can rest easy, the girls from rural West Wales set out to do just that. Step in HUNA, a sleepwear brand with their number one mission being to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of their business. Their sleepwear is made by hand in West Wales. Apart from transporting the fabric to their skilled seamstresses, there are no unnecessary journeys to big warehouses or distributors across the UK.

Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher 
Of Coral Vita

Another University friendship success story comes in the form of Coral Vita, a company from Gator and Sam that creates high-tech coral farms that incorporate breakthrough methods to restore reefs in the most effective way possible. They met at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where they both received Master of Environmental Management degrees. Together, they helped launch the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Club and were awarded Yale’s first-ever Green Innovation Fellowship. Clearly, it was only a matter of time before they set up an inspirational and world-changing business together. Coral Vita aims to preserve the reefs we love by partnering with leading marine institutes, utilizing techniques to grow coral up to 50x faster while boosting their resiliency against the warming and acidifying oceans that threaten their survival, and then outplanting these corals back into degraded reefs. Inspirational, right?

Tansy Aspinall and Victoria van Holthe
Of Tada & Toy

Although I’m sure it didn’t cross their minds when they met on the first day of secondary school, for Tansy and Victoria, it’s clear that their long-running friendship is a key factor in their success as business partners. Fast forward to today and you’ll find them running the incredibly successful ethical jewellery brand, Tada & Toy. With sustainability an important element in their ethos of being a brand with a conscience, ​​all of their pieces are produced in hand-picked artisan workshops in Jaipur, India. They are steadfastly committed to the ethical sourcing of their products and work closely with suppliers to ensure that they are aligned to their beliefs, too. The company places a percentage of their profits back into the Aspinall Foundation, which was founded by Tansy’s grandfather and is ​​a foundation that has two wildlife parks in the U.K and supports a number of conservation projects overseas, all with the goal to protect endangered species.