What does gender have to do with sustainability?

Shower brick

Gender and sustainability. What do the two things have to do with one another? This blog post initially started out as an idea to research the lack of unisex and men’s products within the eco-friendly sphere. However, through this research we noticed there has been much investigation into what the Guardian coined ‘the eco gender gap’, in an article published in February, which investigates why eco-friendly products are more often marketed towards women than to any other gender identity. At Eco-Able, we felt this was an important topic to dissect, and discuss on our platform, whilst also researching and finding eco-friendly products which are more unisex in their design and marketing. It’s worth saying too, that any product in reality can be used by anyone, regardless of gender identity, but we feel it is important that everyone is represented when making steps towards sustainability, and creating a community inclusive to all.

Marketing for masculinity

What we realised on reading this article, which I’ll link here, is that making more environmentally friendly and sustainable choices is often perceived as being feminine, which can dissuade those who associate themselves as masculine from engaging in issues related to the climate crisis. A study by marketing professor James Wilkie from the University of Notre Dame, found that through changing the marketing messaging men were more inclined to purchase eco-friendly products. This makes me wonder if the same marketing strategy could be applied to make eco-friendly products more visually unisex, so that everyone can feel comfortable purchasing whatever product they would like, without worry of being perceived as ‘more feminine’ or ‘more masculine’. Ultimately making more sustainable choices is beneficial for everyone, as the climate crisis will affect people regardless of gender.

Shower brick
Fit pit natural deodorant
gender and sustainability

Unisex products

With this in mind, we set about looking for sustainable product options which are appealing to everyone, without strict gender associations. One product we came across is Akt London, a natural deodorant brand which is plastic-free, cruelty-free, aluminium free, and unisex! For eco-friendly unisex skincare, SBTRCT is a great option, which provides solid moitsteriser and cleanser bars, free from plastic packaging and 100% free from palm oil, and contain less than 0.5% water. As described on their website, SBTRACT addresses three of the beauty industry’s biggest environmental concerns: pollution from plastics, water wastage and the use of palm oil. Equally, in the sustainble beauty sphere is East London based Guy Morgan. Guy Morgan’s products are not only luxurious, but are equally free of gendered branding, have 100% recyclable outer packaging, and recyclable glass packaging for the products themselves.

Now we have researched what other unisex products are out there, we have noticed this is a gap in our own range of eco-friendly products, for more gender neutral options. We have recently added more products aimed at a male audience on our website, including Jim’s Bricks, marketed towards men, and FitPit deodorant which is marketed at men and women. We initially felt there was a lack of products for men on our website, however we now also want to update the shop with more stockists of gender neutral products. We recognise the importance of providing choice and representation for everyone who wants to shop more sustainably, and see this as an avenue for us to improve on as we continue to grow as a business.

Unisex clothing

We also found some good options when looking for sustainable unisex clothing options, however this was a much harder task. Some options we found include Femme Forte, which is a sustainble small business making inclusive clothing, as well as prints and cards, all of which are 100% cruelty and sweatshop free, using vegan inks and sustainable processes. Femme Forte began as a way to fundraise for an East London LGBTQIA+ Community Centre in 2019, and has also supportied LGBTQIA+ Homeless Youth, Transgender people and Bloody Good Period, which provides period products to those who can’t otherwise afford them. Each collection made by Femme Forte is in support of a different cause, and it’s founder Zoe, is striving to build a supportive community of allies, while producing ethical and sustainable collections. Another great company is Spectrum Outfitters which provides environmentally friendly clothing and specialised garments for LGBTQIA+ people, including binders made from recycled ocean plastics and plastic-free packaging on all their products. Equally, french clothing brand Caur makes great sustainable unisex activewear pieces, while working to minimise their carbon footprint, using recyclable or compostable packaging and producing clothing from recycled or organic materials.

We’d love to hear from you

We would love to hear your feedback and favourite eco-friendly brands for unisex products, and hope you found this blog post helpful! We hope that more and more sustainable brands will become more inclusive and cater to a wider range of people, because the importance of taking steps towards living more sustainably is important for everyone!

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