Buzzing About Sustainability


8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 17. Partnerships for the Goals


Kobee’s is an environmentally sensitive brand that understands that to preserve our environment, we must give back to it. The company’s innovative and sustainable lip balm ingredients are biodegradable, compostable, and reusable. Through the sale of its products, Kobee’s is able to collaborate with not-for-profit organizations that share the same vision for improving the way society interacts with the environment.


Gerardo Cordova

Gerardo Cordova


Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago


Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum


Kobee’s lip balm products are all-natural and plastic-free. The formula for its chapstick is derived from all-natural ingredients that could be grown in our own back yards like beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, and mango butter. Kobee’s is packed in decomposable cardboard or reusable tins. The company has partnered with a handful of other organizations that are all working together to help preserve the environment.

Kobee’s has made helping take care of the environment as easy as applying lip balm. The founder of Kobee’s Co., Kobe Harris, understands the balance between consuming and restoring the earth’s natural resources. He started the business in college and the idea behind Kobee’s Co. actually came from his college dorm when his roommates and friends suggested he launch his own company with a specific focus on sustainability.

He notes, “my inspiration started at the end of freshmen year when a couple of my roommates had suggested making chapstick, it was all random at the time and was just a fun idea”.

After many trials attempting to perfect the lip balm formula, Kobe went further and sought guidance from his connections at his university, Loyola Chicago, on how to truly make a sustainable product.

“I reached out to a friend and professor at the IES and I brought her the chapstick in a recyclable aluminum can along with a prototype sealed in plastic, she did not like the chapstick containing plastic.”

Kobe then continued expanding his business by reaching out to other organizations that shared his vision of sustainability while ensuring his own company was contributing to every aspect of sustainability. His friend and professor at the IES encouraged him and suggested potential ways to make alliances.

“She recommended I go to meetings around Chicago or join groups that had to do with climate change and education for I started going to these meetings and interacting with the people there and was able to learn what these groups were about.”

At these events and meetings, Kobe was able to network and learn from organizations, sustainable brands, professors, and students, about the harm plastic had on our environment. It was at these meetings that Kobe found a path towards incorporating sustainability into his business plan. Kobee’s has partnered with the nonprofits The Alliance for The Great Lakes, One Tree Planted, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation. A percentage of the profits are donated to these organizations for the protection of our water, air, and tree restoration. This product shows that although trying to positively change the world can seem impossible, all it can take is one small step, or lip balm, in this case, to generate a rippling positive effect.

Buzzing About Sustainability


His inspiration is the city of Chicago. He explains, “Living in Chicago I saw a ton of trash outside, the air quality was usually poor, and heard the stories of toxins being dumped into Lake Michigan, so I kind of wanted to give people a way to voice their opinion and be able to give back to those fighting against this situation. When somebody buys chapstick from Kobee’s, part of the profit goes to these environmental nonprofit organizations.”

While his inspiration came while living in Loyola Chicago dorms and the motivation of his friends, the idea to explore how to give back to nature came from his own passions.

He notes, “I would say I am a big outdoors person I love to hike, and I like to be out in nature”.

While considering business ideas he analyzed how lip balm was normally being used with a negative impact on the environment by people in Chicago, especially during the winter. Although there are lip balms available made with natural products, he also noticed how many of the most widely available brands came in plastic tubes or capsules packaged in even more plastic. These are thrown out into an already overflowing garbage system.

Overall impact

Lip balm, such a small thing, can have a big impact. Though the product is not as cheap as common store-bought brands, quality stands out. Kobee’s organic, natural ingredients are better for your body and actually help your lips. Many people are not even cognizant of the harmful reactions to mineral oils from petroleum products and other chemicals that are often used in lip balms or chapstick. Additionally, the fact that Kobee’s lip balm is a sustainable product is an important attribute for the many customers looking for a natural product. This implies more sales and more profits for Kobee’s Co.

One of the benefits of starting his business in college is the connections Harris has made there. He was able to get sustainable insight into his product from his connection, Dr. Sasha Adkins, who works at the university’s School of Environmental Sustainability. Through his network at the university, Kobe was then connected to an even larger network of nonprofit organizations that the company could partner with. Kobee’s Co., therefore, has multiplied its impact on the environment while maintaining a minimal carbon footprint. The short-term effect is a product for which there is demand, does not pollute, and connects consumers to a broader network that is helping protect and clean our environment. The design is not only practical and community-oriented but also helps in the reduction of CO2 emissions, one of the main contributors to global warming.

Harris believes that consumers are becoming more selective when choosing products. Consumers want products that reflect their beliefs about issues including how they feel about the environment. He also wants consumers to think critically about the implications of how we dispose of products.

In his own words, “I really want to stress to people for when they buy the product to dispose of them the right way because I feel that businesses today tend to get a free pass and they are able to produce and consume as much as they want.”

Consumers need to consider how much garbage is produced everyday, not just by individuals, but in the course of everyday business.

Business benefit

The innovative benefit to this product is clear—Kobee’s niche is its environmentally friendly consistency. The product's sustainability comes from the organic natural ingredients used in its preparation, especially beeswax, which gives the product its unique consistency and provides long-lasting hydration and protection against the elements. This is the business benefit because consumers will enjoy a product that is not harming the environment either in its production or packaging.

Social and environmental benefit

The product yields societal and environmental benefits both directly and through secondhand change. The product’s sustainable approach, which can be verified on its website, can assure consumers of a minimal increase in their carbon footprint. Simply going online to purchase the product allows consumers to learn about how Kobee's is trying to make a difference but also about major environmental threats and the organizations that are making a difference. Kobee’s societal impact promotes sustainable objectives that generate mindfulness of the environment. Overall, the product is of high quality and has innovative characteristics that appeal to the general environment and promote a positive change.


Kobe Harris, Founder and CEO

Photo of interviewee

Keep this story going! Share below!



Chicago, US

Business Website:

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Kobee’s Co is a sustainable zero waste business that focuses on making great natural products with a focus on taking care of our environment. Kobee's partners with multiple organizations that collectively aim to protect our environment. Through the sale of its sustainable lip balm products with all-natural ingredients and decomposable casing, Kobee's gives part of the profits to these organizations. Through the purchase of Kobee's products, one can help preserve the environment by simply applying lip balm.