5 minute read
Love of Earth Co
A Locally-Owned Zero-Waste Subscription Business
Story by Lisa McEwen | Photos by Erin Householder
Travel can take us around the world, opening doors to new cultures and ideas. For Kennedy Hammond, traveling opened her eyes to the amount of trash humans produce.
In 2018, Hammond was traveling solo in Mexico, Europe, and India, spurred by a decision to leave college without a degree and see what else the world had to offer her. It was in India that she experienced a paradigm shift that forever changed the way she viewed the world—and led her to a new career.
“My heart was in an entanglement with this country, its culture and the people within it,” she says. “India is beautiful. It’s dirty, but it’s beautiful. Trash everywhere you go.”
She recognized American brands among the trash and asked a local to explain. She was told the trash arrives on massive ships and is dropped off along the Indian coastline.
Confused, she researched the topic and discovered the for-profit global waste trade, in which first world countries ship their trash to poorer nations. According to the World Bank, as nations and cities urbanize, develop economically, and grow in terms of population, waste generation will increase worldwide from 2 billion tons in 2016 to 3.4 billion tons in 2050. “I decided when I got back to the States that I would make a change,” she says.
Shortly thereafter, her company, Love of Earth Co., was born. Its mission? To guide people into choosing a more eco-friendly lifestyle by producing less waste. She does this by offering a monthly subscription box service—one of the first of its kind to provide 100 percent zero-waste products that people can use in their daily lives.
Out of a two-bedroom Visalia apartment she shares with boyfriend DiVori Darkins, Hammond is sharing her message around the world, one box and one social media post at a time. She posts daily on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, addressing her 200,000 followers as Earthlings.
Already, the 2015 Redwood High School graduate has many subscribers in the United States and continues to grow her reach with subscription boxes being shipped to Canada, England, and even Italy. (Five boxes sold within the span of our one-hour interview.) Her background as a communications major at CSU Fullerton (she initially wanted to be a newscaster) propels her business—she is a natural, both in front of the camera and with photo styling, videography, and writing.
The themed monthly “Earthling Boxes” include items sourced from zero-waste companies in the United States—think bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets, reusable water bottles, shampoo bars and rechargeable lighters.
She also offers sustainable fashion, such as wooden earrings. All of the items in each box are either certified compostable or biodegradable, or the product is long lasting. Additionally, all items are vegan.
February’s box follows a self-love theme and contains an Eco-Wax Rose and Vanilla candle, an electric rechargeable lighter, loose leaf tea, a copper tea steeper, lip balm in a plantable casing, and more. Customers can also order à la carte from her website: loveofearthco.com.
In a spare bedroom crammed with products, Hammond packages each box by hand, including a hand-written note to thank each customer for their business. The crinkled stuffing that protects items in transit is made from cardboard boxes that originally carried the zero-waste products she ordered. She simply shreds each box and then repurposes the stuffing.
Hammond says she spends much of her time educating the public on what “zero-waste” actually means and how they can adopt a less wasteful lifestyle.
She has a simple recommendation: “Buy less. Only buy what you need,” she says. “I encourage my followers to use self-discipline when shopping. And when you do have to buy something, look for eco-friendly alternatives.”
Often, choosing a zero-waste product allows consumers to spend less money overall, she says, as products regularly last longer.
The Visalia native says her parents Sidney and Michelle Hammond have been some of her biggest supporters, although they were a bit skeptical of her business plan initially.
“I use my dad as my test dummy for my male products, and he always gives me an honest review,” she says. “And my mom was my first subscriber.”
She gives a lot of credit to Darkins for helping her establish her business, noting his 13 years of service in the Army and his profession as a business consultant.
She also encourages her followers to consider growing as much of their own food as possible, noting that she and Darkins have a backyard garden. The couple made the jump to a vegan diet together in 2020.
“You can’t be in this business and not be vegan,” she says.
Hammond is excited about the future of her business and its growth. All the long days are paying off, and she confided that she will need to hire help if the trajectory continues.
Reflecting on her decision to leave college and travel to India, where she found herself surrounded by imported trash, she says, “When you throw something away, there is no destination for ‘away.’ Where is that? I am thankful I trusted my gut because that took a lot of courage.”
There is no ‘away.’ When you throw something away, it must go somewhere.
- Annie Leonard, co-Executive Director of Greenpeace USA