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Interview with EarthHero founder, Ryan Lewis

EarthHero was launched in August of 2017 and started in a small office in Boulder, Colorado. The vision was to change the way people shop – and the mission is going strong.

Below, learn about how EarthHero began, where it’s headed, and suggestions for living more sustainably, all from our founder and CEO, Ryan Lewis.

What inspired you to create EarthHero? Was there one “aha” moment?

Ryan with his family in Costa Rica

I’ve always been inspired by nature. In many ways EarthHero found me. I was living with my family in Costa Rica at the time, and spending a lot of time in the water and at the beach. Like many, I became increasingly alarmed at all the trash I saw. At that same time, I was introduced to the book “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. It details the distinct five stages of linear and traditional consumption and just how harmful it is for the planet. As I pondered how I could help, EarthHero was born.

Conscious consumerism can be a difficult lifestyle to adopt, how do you practice this in your personal life?

Ryan running in Boulder, CO

“I’ve always considered myself more of a minimalist. And that was my entry. The idea of too much “stuff” in my life always bothered me. Even before I understood how this lifestyle also helped the sustainability movement. This has evolved over the years to where I now ask myself a question before making any purchase. “How will this purchase impact the planet?” It’s become automatic at this point, and the process helps eliminate impulse purchases, creates curiosity, and also helps me make better decisions when I do decide to make a purchase.”

What would you say to someone who thinks that there is little hope to reverse the environmental trajectory we are on, and therefore find no use changing the way we shop?

“It’s a choice. You can choose to start your journey of becoming a part of the solution to the problem. It’s a lifestyle decision that goes beyond shopping. It’s about all of our individual choices. With over 7 billion people on this planet, we each have a responsibility to do our part. Humans are resilient. We will find our way, as more people opt into this critical shift in the way we collectively live on this planet. I invite everyone to join this responsible movement and mindset. It feels good to be part of the solution.

Do you have tips for people who want to encourage others to live more sustainably but aren’t sure how?

“There are many ways to naturally help people in addition to having general conversations around the topic. I’ll name my favorite two:

  1. Silent activism – Showing up in various situations with sustainable products and routines invites curiosity and conversation. When traveling by air, going to a sporting event, a concert, the park, a hike, yoga, on a road trip, camping, or to a coffee shop, when you arrive with your sustainable gear, it will naturally inspire the people around you.
  2. Gifts – When you give someone a gift, this is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and inspire them with something they can use, but is also an actionable gift that will immediately help them with their sustainability journey, and maybe comes with a great story.

Is there one product on EarthHero you wish all shoppers knew about?

Cora Ball

“I always feel like this is a trick question. We have thousands of amazing products, and not one of them makes up even 1% of what people purchase. This means our community also agrees that this is a trick question. I have category favorites. Refillable Plaine Products for the shower and David’s toothpaste because I love that it’s in a curbside recyclable tube. I live in my Saola shoes, and wrap my lunch in Bees Wrap to avoid all plastic. But one product? I would say the Cora Ball. It captures microplastics that come off clothes in the washing machine and prevents them from entering the water stream. Plus, it’s made from recycled ocean plastic – How cool is that?!”

What are you most proud of from 2021?

Our team at EarthHero retreat, Oct. 2021

I hope this doesn’t sound cliche because it’s 100% true. The team. It’s been such a challenging year for all of us personally and professionally, and yet we continue to deepen our relationships with each other and our mission, and focus on how to create the best environment possible to work together…That said, there are three big things that I want to mention.

  1. We became Climate Neutral Certified! (Thanks to the help from our Marketing Specialist, Osiris!)
  2. We moved into our new office and warehouse. We only needed to close a few hours early on Friday, and by Monday morning we were already shipping orders. It was a huge success! (Thanks to Dan, our Warehouse Manager!)
  3. We also upgraded our accounting and inventory systems to NetSuite. That ended up being a bigger bite than we anticipated, but we got through it, and we are really just beginning to benefit from it. (Thanks to our COO Jeff and our Product Manager Damir!)

What does the team at EarthHero hope to accomplish in the next year?

  1. We’re actually going to be launching a brand new version of EarthHero.com. I am super stoked about all the new features and benefits this will bring to our community.
  2. Lots of new sustainable brands and products of course.
  3. More volunteering together and also donating to our growing community of non-profit partners.
  4. Epic happy hours and parties with our in house DJ, Noah!

What gets you energized and excited about going to work everyday?

Hanging out with the team, listening to great (and sometimes comically intolerable) music in the warehouse, knowing we are on a shared mission to help make it easy for people to shop sustainably.

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