Bold & Bright: Meet the Woman Trailblazing in the Circular Economy

March 4th, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

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As Women’s History Month celebrations begin, Brightmark believes in spotlighting the bold and bright women making remarkable strides for the environment through their actions. Among these innovators is Sarah Kauss, the founder of S’well, who has made a significant impact on the circular economy.


Get to Know Sarah Kauss

Kauss’s journey began in 2010 when she founded S’well to decrease the plastic waste that single-use plastic bottles generate. With a background in accounting and finance, Kauss left her corporate job to pursue her passion for sustainability and entrepreneurship. She was determined to create a product that addressed the environmental challenges of single-use plastic waste and appealed to consumers with its sleek design and functionality. 

Kauss introduced the iconic S’well bottle—a beautifully designed, reusable water bottle that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. The bottle’s distinctive shape and vibrant colors quickly caught the attention of consumers, earning S’well a reputation as a leader in the reusable bottle market.

What sets S’well apart is its dedication to sustainability across every aspect of the business. From the materials used to manufacture the bottles to the company’s philanthropic initiatives, sustainability is at the core of S’well’s ethos. The bottles are crafted from high-quality, non-toxic stainless steel, ensuring durability and longevity. Additionally, S’well is committed to reducing its environmental impact by promoting a circular economy model, encouraging customers to reuse their bottles.

By designing durable and long-lasting products, S’well aims to minimize waste and promote a more sustainable approach to consumption. Unlike the traditional linear economy—where products are made, used, and disposed of, often ending up in landfills—the circular economy seeks to maximize resource efficiency by keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. S’well embodies this principle by creating products designed to be reused and recycled, thus reducing the need for single-use plastics and minimizing environmental harm.

In addition to creating a sustainable product, Kauss has been a vocal advocate for environmental stewardship and conscious consumerism. Under her leadership, S’well has partnered with organizations such as UNICEF USA to provide clean drinking water to communities in need worldwide. Through these partnerships, S’well addresses the global water crisis and raises awareness about the importance of water conservation and access to clean water.

Kauss’ impact extends beyond the business world. As a female entrepreneur, she has shattered glass ceilings and inspired countless women to pursue their passions in sustainability and environmentalism. Kauss has paved the way for a new generation of purpose-driven leaders by demonstrating that success and social responsibility can go hand in hand.

Women’s History Month is a time to honor the past contributions of women while celebrating present-day leaders who continue to shape the world. Brightmark recognizes trailblazers like Sarah Kauss, who are shaping a brighter, more sustainable, and equitable future. Through her vision, passion, and commitment to positive change, Kauss boldly exemplifies the power of women driving meaningful impact and encourages others to join the movement toward a circular economy.


How You Can  Get Involved

Being a conscious consumer and being mindful of your consumption habits are excellent ways to get started with being more environmentally friendly. Try reducing waste by repairing and refurbishing items instead of discarding them, opting for reusable products over single-use alternatives, and supporting companies prioritizing sustainability and product longevity. 

Recycling and upcycling items, whenever possible, also play a crucial role in keeping materials in circulation and reducing the demand for new resources. Participating in second-hand markets or clothing exchanges fosters a culture of reuse and extends the lifecycle of goods. Staying up-to-date with the circular economy and advocating for policies that promote circularity and sustainability at local and national levels further amplifies individual impact. 

If you’re looking for educational and pragmatic resources to create a world without waste, explore Brightmark’s resources here.

Iyon Baker Headshot
Iyon Baker

Iyon is a curious, creative NC native and Chapel Hill alum who is always eager to embark on new adventures that provide more skills. With a background in advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and fine arts, she uses her skills for copywriting and brand storytelling. Her professional journey has led her to diverse projects that taught her to embrace challenges and adapt to any situation. In her leisure time, Iyon enjoys gardening, knitting, and traveling.

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