“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.“- Jane Goodall
A few months ago a friend of mine presented me with the idea of writing an article on black owned eco-friendly businesses in Trinidad and Tobago and I thought it was brilliant! After some consideration I asked myself, why is this such a great idea ? Why not encourage my readers to invest in all eco-friendly businesses? Why do I need to pay special attention to the “black” or “Afro-Trinbagonian” community?
For weeks I pondered on this question and at some points, I felt horrible for wanting to write the article and exclude others but somewhere at the back of my mind, in the core of my soul, I felt like it was important. Currently, we are in a very socially aware climate with systematic racism and microaggressions at the forefront of our attention. While a lot of this has to do with the Black Lives Matter movement originating in the USA, the issues surrounding the movement are relatable for black people globally. In Trinidad and Tobago, we have recently had a few events surrounding the election campaign of the opposition political party. Much of the material portrays Afro-Trinidadians as beggars, needy, poor, lazy, uneducated, unambitious and most importantly failures. These messages were also brought to the forefront by several affluent business owners in T&T pre-election season during Coronavirus quarantine and during societal unrest due to a police shooting . All these events led to statements like “ them black people again”, “why they don’t get a job, they are lazy”, “those black cockroaches” and the list goes on. See the following links for reference more https://www.looptt.com/content/starlite-ceo-tells-black-people-change-their-mindset https://www.looptt.com/content/pm-shares-views-political-ad-showing-black-child
Every single thing is wrong with those statements and that thought process, but sadly many people think like this. For years many privileged people, myself included, have failed to see and understand the problems that several communities face as a result of systematic oppression because it does not affect us to the extent of some others. Often we tend to either turn a blind eye, not lend an open ear or simply not care at all, but by doing this it is my firm belief that we are part of the problem. Many people have been oppressed for years, have been victims of a system designed to fail them, have had opportunities taken away from because of their race, have been taken advantage of because of their race, have been stereotyped because of their race, have been neglected because of their race and it is time we break that. We have been trying to shine for years, some have succeeded and some have failed however, despite our advances and our achievements we are still seen in a negative connotation.
We are now living in a time where we are becoming extremely aware of race, racial issues, classism and racially designed systems that exist in our own backyard and the world. To say things like you don’t see race, or we live in a peaceful world is to be part of the problem and neglect those who are affected by racism. I am tired of being represented in a negative light. I am a proud young black Afro- Trinidadian with Indian and Venezuelan heritage, that is educated, ambitious and hardworking and there are many others like myself. It is up to us to listen to the voices at the forefront of oppression and racism and change the system from the ground up. We have to uplift each other, support each other and understand each other. This is why I felt like my blog was important, I was called to use my platform to show black people in a positive light because the negativity surrounding my race is very real and I want to let black eco-friendly businesses shine !
As consumers we always have a choice and it is important that we invest our time, energy and money into the companies that are really striving to have a positive impact on the environment in every aspect of their business. Protecting the environment is not about being a tree-hugger or going 100% zero waste, it’s about understanding that the environment plays a pivotal role in our existence and without mother earth we would not have water, fresh air, food, materials and all the other commodities that we enjoy. It’s not just about making a better decision for the planet, but making better decisions for ourselves. There are several black owned businesses in Trinidad and Tobago with environmentalism at the core of their operations. These business owners have employed several waste reduction initiatives, implemented conservation practices, and developed environmental tools that will guide you on the path of becoming an eco-conscious citizen.
Here is the list below !
1. Aféxan’s Cosmetics
Founded by Renee Yearwood, Aféxan’s Cosmetics mission is to provide income and employment to the women in Guinea, West Africa by directly purchasing African Black Soap and Shea Butter from them and providing it to the rest of the world. They are a company dedicated to bringing life and beauty to an already exquisite product line. Produced naturally and without chemicals, Aféxan brings you the finest quality ingredients. The company strives to be as eco-conscious as possible primarily through their packaging. They package all of their products in completely reusable aluminium bottles and tin cans that they encourage people to reuse or bring back for a discount on their future purchases. Every bottle and container bought helps support women in their fight to be able to financially contribute to their family’s wellbeing in West Africa. Follow Aféxan’s Cosmetics on Instagram and Facebook!
Founded by Luke Harris and Danii Mcletchie from Tobago, Carnicycle is a group of social entrepreneurs who strive for social impact and environmental awareness. With a desire to spread their environmental messages through a fun and engaging platform, Dani and Luke took to the Carnival industry as a means of converting their environmental passions into something tangible and positive with a wide reach. Carnicycle’s mission is to bridge the gap between Carnival culture (carnival, fetes, and other festivals) and sustainability through their recycling services, partnerships, eco-tips and shop. The social enterprise travels from Carnival to Carnival to collect and recycle carnival related materials such as bras, feathers, gems etc which are sorted, sanitized and then either donated, sold or upcycled into sell-able jewellery or materials. For more follow Carnicycle on Instagram and Facebook!
3. Coexistence Expeditions
Founded by Leah Fouchong Coexistence Expeditions is an environmental enterprise aimed at promoting sustainable tourism through education, awareness and empowerment. Owing to her love for the environment they seek to create eco-conscious advocates for the environment by offering guided, safe and fun educational tours that seek to change individual’s mindset, behaviour and empower them to become stewards for the environment. The business aims to promote and engage public participation in the fight for the protection and preservation of the environment and its scarce resources. Coexistence Expeditions offers a range of expeditions and tours under the following categories: Eco-Tourism Tours, Culture and Heritage Tours, Outdoor Expeditions and Adventure Activities. For more info check out Coexistence Expeditions on Facebook and Instagram.
4. Ecovybz Environmental Creatives
Founded by myself, Khadija Stewart, author of the Ecovybz blog, my company focuses on creating content about the environment, environmental issues and solutions for all generations, across diverse platforms in an aim to foster behaviour change and create eco-conscious citizens. Special focus is given to topics such as climate change, water resources and the ocean with watchwords such as awareness, appreciation and change driving my company. Although I create content for everyone, Ecovybz , has a strong focus on creating environmental educational tools and materials for children because they are often left out of the conversation. It is often said that we must create a better earth for our kids and grandkids but I also believe we must create better kids for the planet and this is what I strive to do through the creation of my children’s book series, animation series and much more. For more info follow Ecovybz on Instagram and Facebook!
5. EcoWash TT
EcoWash was founded by Dareem Jeffrey of Kairos General Services and Consultancy Limited. It is an ecological car wash system that couples water conservation technology with convenience. Growing up in Moruga, Dareem continuously practised water rationing due to the lack of water available to him; however, as he matured and moved further north he noticed a blatant disregard for the resource and decided to introduce water conservation techniques into the car wash system. EcoWash was created to provide an ecologically safe and friendly solution to the traditional car wash system with eco-friendly and biodegradable products, thus making their service harmonious with nature in any location. Furthermore, their washing carts are autonomous and portable resulting in them needing no water or electrical connection, no infrastructure or drainage and can be used anywhere while leaving behind no trace elements. For more info on EcoWashTT, you can check out their Facebook and Instagram!
6. For the Love of Nature TT
This organisation was founded by Jeunisse Mohan, a biology graduate eager to contribute to the betterment of society. Inspired by the dangers of single-use plastics, her first-hand experiences with the negative environmental impacts that these items were causing as well as society’s ignorance to the problem, she decided to spring into action. After examining her own lifestyle habits she discovered she was an avid user of cotton pads for facial hygiene, which encouraged the use and disposal of plastic packaging. She began to question the sustainability of this practice as well as a reusable alternative and through this “For The Love of Nature” was born. Her goal is to provide persons with alternatives to items that may be overlooked in their daily lives, that contributes to environmental pollution. Her products include reusable cotton rounds or squares that can be used as facial cleansing pads, makeup removal or toner application. Check out For the Love of Nature TT on Instagram for more information!
Founded by Lyndon Jones The Hydra-STATION aims to reduce/eliminate the waste generated and harmful environmental effects associated with single-use plastic water bottles at events and public spaces. They deploy stainless steel mobile water stations at events that dispense quad filtered, UV sterilised and chilled water into reusable water bottles. The water they provide is free and never runs out. This process ensures that event patrons stay hydrated and enjoy refilling their reusable water bottles while achieving the goal of eliminating plastic waste. Hydra-STATION through its operations creates a platform for citizens to demand no single use of plastic bottles at all events and public spaces thereby demanding change in the legislation. For more on HydraSTATION check out their Facebook and Instagram!
8. Nature Sprout
Founded by Candice Caruth, Nature Sprout is an agricultural consultancy company specializing in natural fertilizers, waste management workshops and packaged products. Her love for nature and the desire to encourage both home gardeners and already existing agri-businesses to grow and produce their products in a more sustainable way are what fostered the development of the business. They facilitate waste management workshops where they teach methods such as vermicomposting, regular composting, and other techniques of recycling/up- cycling and how it can assist farmers, home gardeners, communities to transform their waste into viable inputs used to grow their own food or as an additional source of income. They also offer natural and safe products such as an OMRI certified organic product called Azomite which is a fertilizer, soil amendment and feed for livestock that can be used by both plants and animals. For more on Nature Sprout check them out on Facebook and Instagram!
Founded by Nwannia Sorzano, Nwannia is a fashion brand with uniquely designed pieces driven by personality, functionality and versatility. Drawing inspiration from traditional ol’mas characters as well as European and Asian classical and modern aesthetics, their pieces embody that fusion of cultures often seen in Trinbagonian society. Nwannia maintains its socially conscious stance by encouraging sustainable fashion practices. The pieces of their latest BREAK’WEH collection are made from practical, environment and climate-conscious materials, designed to be versatile enough to be styled differently as to give the wearer one item of clothing that can be worn to various events. Their packaging as well seeks to minimize waste and they repurpose as many items as possible really striving to build a low waste brand. Driven by the 2013 Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh Nwannia became aware of the “dark side” of the fashion and knew she needed to use her talents and passion to create a brand in the world that would make a difference. Check out Nwannia on Instagram and Facebook for more info!
10.Siel Environmental Services Limited
Founded by Sian Young Siel Environmental Services Limited is a for-profit social enterprise based in Trinidad and Tobago transforming the way you think and act towards waste. They specialize in waste education, training and consultancy with watchwords such as Transformation, Responsibility and Action driving their business. What continues to inspire Sian is leaving a clean country for her children. She strives to create waste heroes in the children and youth as well as develop an environmentally literate society – one that not only cares but has the knowledge and information to make conscious decisions and takes positive action for the betterment of the environment is of paramount importance to her. Her dad taught her from very young that you always leave a place cleaner than you’ve met it so it’s a thought and practise that she encourages because it teaches taking responsibility for the waste you generate. Follow Siel Environmental Services Ltd on Facebook and Instagram to learn more!
Founded by Shenece Francis, Shendesignz creates beautiful landscaping, interior, graphic, fashion and craft designs. Shenece thought herself how to use designing software tools after completing her BSc in Tropical Landscaping and Geography and is building her business one sustainable design at a time. She aims to help her clients create green livable indoor and outdoor spaces that incorporates both up-cycled and recycled materials. Her creativity does not end there, Shenece also uses either old t-shirts or denim to make yarn that is then turned into stunning reusable tote bags. This reduces the need single use plastics and is contributing to a better environment for all. Shendesignz, provides craft services to children teaching them the importance of eliminating their waste through upcycled crafts. Shenece uses tools like bottle caps, plastic bottles, toilet rolls etc to help the children transform them into amazing works of art. Inspired by her love for nature and her desire to change the concept of waste in T&T she is creatively giving unwanted items a new life and has incorporated this mindset into her passion for landscaping and plants. For more information follow Shendesignz on instagram!
12. The Climate Conscious Podcast
The Climate Conscious Podcast was founded by Derval Barzey, an environmental management professional with experience in environmental risk management and sustainable energy policy development. This podcast provides information and insights on environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Each episode features conversations with diverse stakeholders in sectors such as energy and industry, civil society, academia, business, and consumers on the various elements of sustainability. These conversations are intended to stimulate meaningful action towards the climate crisis. Derval started the Climate Conscious Podcast because she wanted to help make issues of the environment and climate mainstream. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify. Stitcher, and other streaming apps. Follow The Climate Conscious Podcast on Instagram to keep up to date with all their episodes!
Sustainable Startup: Parkt with Stephan James – The Climate Conscious Podcast
13. Tech4 Agri
Founded by Keron Bascombe, Tech4Agri is a social enterprise that uses media journalism and communications to support agri youth, agripreneurs, and other agro-allied fields. Their key innovation is the use of mobile technologies for agri journalism. Tech4Agri was born out of an opportunity Keron received to write a blog article highlighting technological innovations and successes in Caribbean Agriculture. From this he discovered that there was a full career he could develop in agricultural journalism and that it existed almost everywhere else in the world except the Caribbean. Driven to change this he has created his own path and embarked on several projects using mobile journalism to showcase and support agricultural innovations in the region. To learn more follow Tech4Agri on Instagram and Facebook!
14. The Paper Studio Eco-Design
Founded by Susan Thomas, the Paper Studio Eco-Designs creates innovative eco-friendly recycled and upcycled items offering workshops in hand papermaking for adults and children. Her products include greeting cards, paper jewellery, eco-dyed prints and handmade paper stationery. The company started when Susan gained interest in papermaking from a shop that she visited in London selling handmade paper cards. Curious, she decided to inquire about the process and did a lot of research. Her research led to her gaining insight on environmental issues and deciding to teach herself to recycle used paper into decorative designer papers. Researching and teaching herself took a long time because there was no one in T&T teaching this process. In about 5 years it all evolved into a small home-based business. She has now extended her portfolio and is making paper from natural grasses in T&T which are in abundance in our environment. For more on the Paper Studio Eco-Design follow them on Instagram and Facebook!
15. Yugen Caribbean
Jamala Alexander is a green business consultant and environmental blogger from Trinidad and Tobago, who launched her own social enterprise called Yugen Caribbean. With the aim of “promoting environmental consciousness and sustainability from a Caribbean perspective”. Yugen is now a two-fold brand which consists of a non-profit blog and community called “Yugen Stories”, and a green business consultancy called ‘Yugen Solutions’. Her company is dedicated to providing sustainable solutions for Caribbean business owners who run either small or medium enterprises that are interested in limiting their environmental impacts and incorporating green practices to work in partnership with both people and the planet. Jamala was inspired to launch Yugen Caribbean as she always felt a call to make a positive mark on the world. For more on Yugen Caribbean follow them on Instagram and Facebook!
16. Zay’s Recycled Tyres
Founded by Tenisha Granger and her fiancee Jonathan Ramcharan, Zay’s Recycled Tyres are saving the environment one doggie bed or planter at a time. Driven by her love for dogs Tenisha had the idea of creating dog beds from old tyres. Upon her research, she discovered that this was something being done globally but not in Trinidad so she decided to start Zay’s Recycled Tyres. She uses old tyres and then upcycled them into beautiful custom pet beds, ottomans and planters. There are very little options to recycle tyres in Trinidad and Tobago and Tenisha is happy to provide an eco-friendly solution that gives tyres a second life and reduces landfills waste. To learn more about Zay’s Recycled Tyres follow them on Instagram!
I am 10000% certain that there are many more black owned, eco-friendly businesses in T&T so please reach out to them and continue to support their efforts as they break the stereotypes surrounding black people and shine in a positive light. If you would like to be included in this list please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .