Goldune is a new online marketplace for sustainable goods for the home, life, and personal care. They partner with small sustainable businesses that can’t afford to thrive in traditional retail, give products a clear ranking on its carbon footprint, and include an ‘end of life’ section on each product page, which gives you an understanding of how long the product will exist on this earth. They even have a buyback program that allows you to sell back select used products to resell at a discount as secondhand on their website.
We spoke to founder Azora Zoe Paknad, about building an online wonderland for sustainable products with a mission to be “less beige” - less granola, more inclusive, fun and accessible.
Please introduce what Goldune is! What’s the mission and purpose?
Goldune is an online marketplace for all things sustainable home, life and personal care. Our official mission is to make sustainability less beige— meaning less granola, and more inclusive, fun and accessible. To us, that means nixing the "fear-based" marketing (you'll never catch us harping on "clean" or "non-toxic" style buzzwords designed to make you fear a pretend alternative so you spend more money with us) and leaning into warmth, positivity, joy and inclusivity. The way we see it, shame and doom and gloom never inspired anyone to get excited, active and engaged— and clunky, granola, out-of-touch products don't exactly spread the gospel about sustainable living either.
We prioritize sourcing from small, women and BIPOC lead brands, and we focus on making as many free climate resources as we can so that our light n' bright, warm and joyful approach to climate is accessible to all folks— not just those with the privilege to care about shopping sustainably.
Where did your focus on sustainability stem from? Is there anything from your background or childhood that sparked this interest?
Definitely not! I don't think sustainability even exists as a concept outside of this unique moment in time we're living in—the depth and intensity of the climate crisis has deepened so much in my lifetime, and it seems like we're just now getting to an inflection point where it's the focal point of major elections.
Like a lot of other intersectional environmentalists, my interest in my own personal consumption was born out of the work of activists who worked tirelessly so I could learn a little bit more about microplastics or rising sea levels or environmental racism. I don't know exactly when or how it happened, but it was sort of like a switch flipping in my awareness. One day I woke up, and all I could think about was the impending doom and demise of the climate crisis, and I wanted to shake everyone who was drinking out of a single use plastic cup or leisurely shopping by the shoulders.
That point of view didn't win me any friends though. It also didn't change the habits of those folks who didn't seem to be bothered by the climate crisis. The more time I spend adjacent to the zero waste community, the more struck I was by its flaws: it has some really glaring blind spots. It took some time for me to understand that what I felt like the movement was missing was acceptance, inclusivity, diversity, warmth, positivity and joy.
It's endlessly difficult to build momentum and default to those positivity + warmth mindsets when you're dealing with something as "do or die" as the climate crisis, and it challenges our team every day— but it's worthwhile to me. I think we have a shot at getting more people engaged with climate if we can make room for them as they are, without judgment.
How does Goldune help consumers make more sustainable and informed purchasing choices?
In short, we don't. We don't believe in "should"-ing people. It is not my place to tell anyone else how to live. (Don't get me wrong, I want to sometimes-- we all seem to think we know best, but I've noticed folks in the zero waste or low waste movement are particularly susceptible to wanting to tell other people how to live their lives or believing that their path is the best and most noble.)
The reality is that I don't know what any one person is dealing with. A lot of inherently more "sustainable" practices or options are out of reach to folks who are for example, struggling with a cancer diagnosis, or juggling work while caring for a differently abled child, or whose identities or communities are systematically oppressed in our society. Me telling other folks how to live serves no one well.
We're focused on how we can actually just find and make the best, most sustainable, most beautifully designed stuff out there for your home, your life, your medicine cabinet. You take what you need or what's in reach for you. No judgment or shaming from us if it doesn't all work, or you can't quit the single use Ziploc bag or the plastic toothpaste tube. We'll keep making the product and shopping experience better and better and more and more sustainable, we'll keep making resources for climate, making room for folks of all shapes, sizes and identities, and when you decide you're ready for us to tag in, we're here.
Can you share a little bit about being anti-beige?
I'm not anti-beige at all! It's just not for me, it's not for a lot of people. For some reason, someone in charge decided to crown the beige, white, Instagram aesthetic "aspirational." I wanted to question that. It's not inclusive. I think it's the opposite of inclusive, for a lot of different reasons. (That's a conversation I'll have with a martini in hand on some other day.)
I'm not "anti" an all-white living room or hemp pants, if that's for you— I'm all for anything that works for you and makes your life feel full and happy and healthy— but I believe another narrative needs to exist, particularly in the sustainability world where things tend to often feel granola, as though they were designed exclusively for affluent white people who love to go hiking. Again, no shade to those things, but to put it plainly, there is a lot more to the world than that one POV, and people deserve to enjoy beautiful, functional, accessible and sustainable things and ways of living even if they are not the rich white hiker archetype.
What are three books, articles or podcasts that you'd recommend for people to learn more about climate and sustainability?
We have a book club over on our site and Instagram that I high-key recommend! We pick a different book every month, and it's a great way to find new sustainability-related books to read. Last month's, Tatiana Schlossberg's Inconspicuous Consumption, is one of my favorite books.
Truthfully, I prefer books to podcasts or articles (though we do use peer-reviewed or thoroughly fact-checked articles to inform our own writing)-- it sort of feels like anyone can say anything on the Internet these days (that's rarely a bad thing) and I love being able to refer back to a physical book for a finite and fact-checked source, when I'm reading about climate. I do love newsletters though, and I recommend Emily Atkin's Heated (great, but a heads up that it is not the warm, fuzzy, joy and love vibe that you get from Goldune), David Roberts' Volts, Grist's newsletters, and the ultimate, Climate Nexus (which is *a lot*, but great).
What are some of your favorite brands stocked currently at Goldune?
This is like asking me who my favorite kid is. In truth, my mind changes every day. The brands who agreed to go on this journey with me when I just pitched them a business that was nothing more than an idea are always going to be the closest to my heart-- like Atelier Saucier, who recycles discarded and deadstock textiles into really dreamy home and kitchen accessories. Lately, I'm really loving our new biodegradable lip balms, which feel like fun, colorful little crayons, or our toothpaste tabs, which I can no longer live without!
Where do you see Goldune in five years?
Five years from now, I want Goldune to have gotten millions of people excited about, inspired by, and involved with sustainability in ways that are accessible and achievable for each of their unique lives.