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Six Ethical and Sustainable Companies we Love


Here at Rickshaw, we work hard with local partners across our destinations to ensure our we make a positive impact on the planet and local communities. We admire sustainable companies who do the same, from ethically-sourced travel bags employing local craftspeople to, er, toilet paper. If you’re looking for something to throw your support behind, we’ve chosen six ethical companies using their business to create products as a force for good.
Decorative torn edge

1 – GravityLight

With an estimated 1.2 billion people across the planet living without electricity (and millions more with an unreliable supply), many of the world’s poorest communities resort to kerosene lamps for light. Notoriously dangerous, bad for the environment and costly, kerosene also causes serious respiratory problems.

GravityLight was designed as a sustainable alternative and is truly a shining light among ethical businesses. Product designers Jim and Martin invented a device that creates energy from gravity. An elevated weight (filled with sand or rocks) slowly powers a generator as it falls to the ground, creating around 20 minutes of light.

No batteries, no charging, no cost.

With a successful prototype, GravityLight was crowdfunded in 2012, smashing its target and raising nearly $400,000 in 30 days. Tested in 26 countries to rave reviews, the product is now sold in Kenya, with big plans to expand. Most importantly, GravityLight works with local communities to help create jobs. Rather than undermining local businesses by giving out free products, Kenyans are able to earn a living through selling GravityLights. Talk about a light bulb moment.

How’s it meaningful? GravityLight is making a positive impact in part of the world that needs it most, and truly innovating for the best of reasons! 

Gravity lights two children

2 – Ethnotek

Ethotek was founded by a Husband & Wife duo (Jake and Cori) from Minnesota, USA. This ethical company produces quality, handcrafted bags and accessories. Their vision? To keep cultures alive and celebrate local communities by sustaining the crafts of hand printing, weaving and embroidery.

They partner with artisanal villages in Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, where all too often craft is disappearing. There’s little demand for traditional techniques, with machine production and factories dominating in the big cities.

Jake & Cori are now based in Bali and regularly bounce back and forth from  Ho Chi Minh City  as well as Bali and Indonesia, where sewing workers are paid a wage that’s around 76% higher than average, as well as receiving sick pay, holiday and other benefits. Their teams produce a range of travel bags, backpacks and accessories that combine artisanal fabrics and techniques with brilliantly thought-out practicalities for travel. That’s our kind of company!

How’s it meaningful? We’ve seen all over the world, cultures are getting lost to globalisation and big business. Ethnotek is tackling both, by valuing cultures so they have a chance to thrive and paying artisans what they deserve for their craft. 

3 – Who Gives A Crap

Around 2.4 billion people worldwide don’t have access to a toilet. That’s around 40% of the world’s population.

This is something toilet paper warriors Who Gives A Crap want to change. Their environmentally-friendly loo roll is crafted from 100% recycled paper fibres, which saves big on water and trees. On top of that, a whopping 50% of profit is donated to help build toilets and fund sanitation projects, to stop the deadly spread of diarrhoea-related disease that comes from poor sanitation.

In July 2012, co-founder Simon sat on a toilet in a warehouse for a cheek-numbing 50 hours as part of a crowd-funding campaign on IndieGoGo. They raised over $50,000, and their sustainable business Who Gives A Crap was born.

The company has donated around $1,175,000  to not-for-profit organisations like Water Aid since it launched. Who Gives A Crap loo-roll is good for your wallet, good for your bum and good for the world (and 25% more puns than other loo roll brands!).

How’s it meaningful? The folks at Who Gives A Crap are thinking bigger than themselves, realising that it isn’t fair that so many people don’t have a chance to use a proper toilet and the diseases caused by this. Making a huge positive impact while making puns, what more do you want?!

Toilet paper

4 – Biotrem

Here’s an ethical addition to your next picnic. Biotrem is the brainchild of inventor Jerzy Wysocki, inspired by generations of his family’s milling traditions.

This clever collection of tableware is created from wheat bran and water. The environmentally-friendly production process uses all natural, raw materials, without using huge amounts of water – unlike the production of paper and plastic tableware.

The result? A fully biodegradable, natural and ethical product. These edible wheat bran plates, bowls and cutlery hold up for hot and cold meals, in ovens and microwaves, and are totally robust. If you don’t fancy a nibble, they’ll break down in around 30 days through composting. Genius.

How’s it meaningful? As most of us know, the use of plastics is a huge problem in the world. This has maximum impact with a fully decomposable, and edible product – something we should all get behind! 

5 – PHB Ethical Beauty

Family-run PHB Ethical Beauty was founded in 2012 with one aim in mind: creating ethically-sourced beauty products that are beneficial for health and the environment. Founder Rose Brown was looking to provide an alternative to harmful, chemical-packed cosmetics that could be damaging to skin as well as the planet.

Today, PHB Ethical Beauty (that’s Pure, Handmade, British) is the world’s largest range of natural, vegan, cruelty-free and halal certified beauty products. Inspired by nature and created by hand, they’re formulated entirely without palm oil, animal-derived products and harmful chemicals.

Each product is lovingly created in the south of England, and unusually, hand-blended, filled and labelled. Product packaging is eco-friendly and 100% recyclable, and 20% of the company’s net profit goes straight to charity.

How’s it meaningful? PHB Ethical Beauty realised there’s a massive problem in beauty and skin products and have tackled it head-on by going alone, they were brave enough to say NO to what’s wrong in their industry. 


6 – Pavegen

Pavegen may just be the cleverest floor tile going. Created in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, it works by harvesting energy from your footsteps. As you step on the tiles, your weight causes electromagnetic induction generators to “vertically displace, which results in a rotary motion that generates off-grid electricity.”.

Still with us?!

There are currently 150 Pavegen installations worldwide, and the company has big plans. Walk into a shop with Pavegen, and you could power half the lights in the building while you browse, and even get rewarded for using your energy. The company aims to make clean energy easier and more accessible for everyday businesses, which in the long run, means more sustainable cities.

How’s it meaningful?  We all know energy is one of the worlds biggest problems, and not enough is being done. Pavegen has the potential to change everything, using the energy from what we eat to power our world, can’t get more ambitious than that!