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Grove Collaborative was created in 2012 with the simple yet powerful mission of selling sustainable, healthy, and planet-friendly products for both the body and home. All products sold by Grove Collaborative -- whether they are a house brand or a third party brand-- must meet the company’s four point standard of being “uncompromisingly healthy, beautifully effective, ethically produced and cruelty free” before they can be sold on the Grove Collaborative website. Grove Collaborative is sticking to its stance on creating products for a cleaner environment with their Beyond Plastic pledge, which is driven by their mission to go plastic-free by the year 2025.
Grove Collaborative was named with an idea related to solving the current environmental crisis in mind. "Grove" refers to more than one tree, and "collaborative" is used when an issue must be solved with more than one person. Together, this forms the framework for Grove Co. as they aim to make their products readily available to all. These products, however, have a very high criteria to meet. They must be non-toxic, with all ingredients transparent to the consumer, plant-based, 100% cruelty free, ethically sourced and of sustainable materials. Though this can make it difficult for Grove Co. to provide a wide range of products to choose from, it ensures that the consumer is receiving a product that has been pre-checked for these categories.
Grove Co. also has a list of ingredients that will never be found in the products they list on their website. This so-called "anti ingredient list" contains ammonia, for example, because it causes irritation to the skin and eyes. Another ingredient is BHA/BHT, which is a preservative known as a carcinogen. There are quite a number of ingredients that are banned from Grove Co. online shelves, which is another contribution to the UN Goals. The social responsibility for good health and well being is one of Grove Co.’s aim.
Though an online store can be difficult to establish at first, Grove Co. created a marketplace for those who are mindful of how the products they use impact the environment. Being a certified Corp B, they commit to the highest level of corporate social responsibility as they work to better the environment in a healthier way, create stronger communities, and create jobs that have purpose. This is no longer a movement just within San Francisco, rather is a long-term commitment that will stem globally.
The idea for Grove Collaborative was born when Stuart Landesberg (current CEO) and other founders of Grove Collaborative were college students and wanted to represent and sell products “on the market that are both healthy and sustainable options.” The idea of Grove Collaborative took shape in “someone’s bedroom in San Francisco,” then progressed to a small rented space, and is currently situated as a widely popular e-commerce market housing the Grove Collaborative retail space. According to Emily, Mr. Landesberg's main drive to continue creating Grove Collaborative is to take pride in a company that sells products that someone purchases or “brings home with them” and to also “make people aware of options that they may not know they have.” In other words, a purchase from Grove Collaborative is money well spent on quality and sustainable products. The motivation for creating the innovation was to make sustainable products “easy for the consumer to locate and purchase while also presenting a market of healthy product options for a wide range of consumers”.
Being at the forefront of curating and selling healthy and sustainable products, Grove Collaborative is committed to using clean ingredients and is strict on avoiding ingredients that are “not bioaccumulative.” A major point in regards to this that Emily pointed out is that Grove Collaborative is “going in the direction of things that are biodegradable” and not in the direction of creating or selling products that will have “an adverse effect on our oceans, on our wildlife, because we are seeing that as a result of this industry.” To top it off, Grove Collaborative has further committed to going plastic-free by the year 2025 and has embarked on this mission by having both their house brands as well as their third party brands go plastic-free. They intend to offer this both across the industry and “on a platform where people can shop without the headache of wondering where that product is coming from and what kind of resource footprint it is going to have.”
Grove Collaborative has had an overall positive impact with their business and the environment as a result of their initiatives. Some of the short-term effects include providing people from other countries with well-paying jobs and switching to mostly plastic-free products by not only changing what they use for their own house brands, but also vetting the products of third party brands. As of June 30, 2021, Grove Co. is down to 30% plastic free for Grove-owned brand products, 15% plastic free across their site, and 12% plastic free for third party brands. They expect that by the end of 2023 or sooner “all Grove-owned brands will contain no more than 10% plastic, and no single-use, virgin plastic packaging.”
They have partnered with different organizations to assist with their initiatives. They create and sell sustainable and eco-friendly paper products and have partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees, both part of their deforestation free supply chain. Their goal is to plant a million trees and reach 100% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper products by the end of 2022. They also partnered with rePurpose Global for their plastic free initiative, in which people collect plastic waste from coastlines and waterways. Through this partnership, they are able to offer people jobs as well.
Some of the long-term effects include areas of critical deforestation around the U.S. being restored, because of their work with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees. This will provide benefits to the ecosystem/environment. For instance, as of June 30, 2021, 635,000 trees have been planted across the United States, which means 11,491 pounds of air pollution will be removed and 209,516 tons of carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the planted trees. There will be reduced plastic waste on coastlines and waterways, and people in places like India could have a steady job. Grove Co. is also a CarbonNeutral Certified Company, so they plan to reduce carbon emissions across their value chains by 2030.
The impact of Grove Collaborative’s products and initiatives can be found in articles, interviews with Stuart Landesberg, and up-to-date company reports. The company has been featured on such sites as Forbes, Business Wire, Business Insider, and Bloomberg. In March 2021, Grove Co. was named by Fast Company as the second most innovative corporate social responsibility company of 2021.
Grove Co. started out their company with 14 people and now have 494 employees. As part of their plastic-free initiative, they are partnered with rePurpose Global, which is the world’s leading platform dedicated to reducing waste, especially plastic waste. Through this partnership, “Every ounce of plastic that [they] sell on the site is calculated and offset in the form of putting people to work in well-paying, consistent, and safe jobs, particularly in places like India, places where there might not be steady work, and they are collecting plastic from the environment, from the ocean, keeping it out of waterways.”
They currently sell around 150-160 third party brands and 6 house brands. They do not have a brick and mortar store, but their products can be found in Target stores across the United States. They have some refill stations, but are looking to have more of those be available in more areas and in brick and mortar stores in order to increase accessibility. Having more of these refill stations would also help with their mission to be plastic-free and sustainable, because instead of buying water bottles, people would use a reusable bottle at the station.
Grove Co. sells Beyond Plastic t-shirts that say “Beyond Plastic 2025” on the front and the company name on the back. For every t-shirt sold, they promise to collect a pound of plastic from the coastlines of Goa, India through their partnership with rePurpose Global. These shirts are also 100% cotton, so when they are washed and worn, they will not release any tiny plastics or microfibers into the waterways. Currently, there are no plans for Grove to create more clothing items, especially since this shirt is still new; it all depends on the reception of the t-shirt, which has been positive.
According to Grove’s 2020-2021 sustainability report, “As of 2020, plastic and carbon offsets are built into [their] costs...Just as many companies have created an internal carbon price, we have an internal plastic price. For every ounce of plastic we sell, we pay a cost to our Plastic Neutral program.” This means that in order to become profitable (from a shareholder and environmental view) they need to reduce the amount of plastic used, which they have been successful in doing thus far and will continue to decrease.
From our interview with Emily from Grove Co, she indicated that they have a partnership with rePurpose Global for becoming 100% plastic neutral. “We have a partnership with repurpose global and that’s part of our plastic neutral initiative that we have in place as we move toward being 100% plastic-free. What that means is that every ounce of plastic that we sell on the site is calculated and offset in the form of putting people to work in well-paying, consistent, and safe jobs, particularly in places like India, places where there might not be steady work, and they are collecting plastic from the environment from the ocean, keeping it out of waterways.”
Currently, Grove Co. uses plastic from post-consumer recycled aluminum. “If you see plastic on the site it’s going to be post-consumer recycled aluminum. For example, I’m sure you know it takes 95% less energy to recycle and upcycle and is infinitely recyclable, so when you see those products come forward that are made out of upcycled, recycled materials as opposed to producing more materials, especially that are going to have a negative impact, that is something that I feel good about because it’s coming closer and closer to being more of a circular economy, so to speak, in terms of the materials that we’re using.”
Grove Co. is a corporation that has high aims which sets an example for the entire home goods and clothing industry. “Some other initiatives that we’re on our way to completing goals that we set are our deforestation-free supply chain. So we are not only saving trees with our paper products, but we’re also planting trees in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.”
Emily Rama, Senior Manager
Transforming the products one uses at home into a force for good.
Moving Beyond Plastic: 100% plastic-free by 2025