Smartphone accessories are a dime a dozen these days. You can’t pull up Amazon or walk into a carrier store without seeing them. However, we rarely see a company entering that market with an original angle. House of Marley looks to change that with a model built and fueled by sustainable materials. I set down with a few representatives of the company this month and I’d like to share the House of Marley story.
The company was announced January of 2012 by founder Rohan Marley at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marley is the son of famous reggae artist Bob Marley and former professional football player. Rohan has started many other environmentally friendly businesses similar to House of Marley, such as Marley Coffee.
What Makes House of Marley Different?
Rohan’s House of Marley prides itself on using sustainable materials to make all of its accessories. What does that mean exactly? In short, the company uses as many natural or recycled sources as possible.
What kind of materials? A multitude of items are used to make the accessories you can find on House of Marley. Let’s look at some of the items listed on the website just to give you an overview of how thorough House of Marley (HoM) is at sourcing items with limited long-term effects on the environment.
Bamboo and FSC Wood
Bamboo is used in many of the House of Marley stable of devices. Marley doesn’t just pick it for the aesthetics. While it looks great, the material is renewable and can be cultivated with an extremely low carbon footprint.
Bamboo is also one of the most durable materials in the world, with a structural integrity that is almost as strong as steel. The result is a stunning wood look with added durability that can take a beating.
Wood is a recurring theme among HoM accessories as the company uses it in most of its headphones and portable speakers. Marley also uses only FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) woods.
The Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to forestry efforts and conservation. It has certified vendors, like the ones used at House of Marley, who adhere to processes that help in keeping deforestation at a minimum and give back to maintaining the natural forest.
“We want to use wood in our products as a beautiful material, but we want to make sure they are coming from responsibly forested suppliers.”
After talking to House of Marley, and seeing some of the items they sent our way, cork might be my favorite. It offers such a unique end result while conforming to the company’s sustainable mindset.
First, cork allows the design to take a great look and texture. It really pops when you take the No Bounds portable speaker out of the box; and, I swear it adds a deepness to the sound that wouldn’t be there with another material choice.
“Cork is great because it’s an amazing insulator. It’s a dampener and is vibration resistant. We use what’s called conglomerated cork. Which uses less virgin cork and some from Asia with more defects. We then use a process to grind that with scraps from cork for wines bottles and compression mold it with a binder into a very solid, stable product we can use. We use it as a base of our speakers in place of silicon to protect from drops and offer buoyancy.”
Cork is another core substance that strikes the environmental balance Marley looks for during design. Director of product development, Josh Poulsen, attributed the choice of cork to it’s 100% natural as well as being completely biodegradable as some of the reasons it’s chosen for accessories. Again, House of Marley goes the extra effort to find ways to make high-grade products with low environmental impact.
Even when the substances aren’t biodegradable, or renewable, the company strives to make sure it makes the same efforts to avoid adding to the waste stream. Aluminum is one of the most easily recycled materials in the world. HoM uses it accordingly to provide design elements with aluminum while keeping the risk of it making its way to a landfill.
You’ll find recyclable aluminum in many of their speakers and accessories. The Stir It Up Turntable uses aluminum in the table platter and many of the headphones use the material in the speaker housings as well.
Poulsen was adamant that just because they do have to use less environmentally friendly items at times, the company still has a focus on making the lowest environmental damage as possible.
“Obviously, we sometimes can’t avoid some materials like plastics and aluminum.
The company really wants to make a lasting impact on the environment while appealing to audio consumers and it goes beyond just being mindful of the materials used in its products.
Poulsen and his team at House of Marley will have helped plant 146,000 trees by January 2019 via the One Tree Planted initiative. This global program has allowed House of Marley to contribute to reforestry efforts worldwide:
- California – 20,000
- Ethiopia – 20,000
- Rwanda – 10,000
- Kenya – 5,000
- Ghana – 5,000
- Haiti – 5,000
- Colorado – 5,000
- India – 5,000
- Vietnam – 1,000
- Guatemala – 1,000
- Brazil – 1,000
- Oregon – 1,000
The team doesn’t plan to stop there. This is an ongoing staple of the company that is always in the forefront.
House of Marley also has plans to help with the wildfire restorations in California. These are the huge moves that Marley’s culture sees as a responsibility of major industry to have a positive return on the materials and resources they use on a daily basis. Poulsen believes that consumers will speak with their wallets that this type of philanthropy matters:
“Consumers (especially today’s youth) when they have a choice, I think they are more in tune with what’s going on with our Earth and oceans and global warming. I think consumers absolutely prefer a sustainable brand.”
The company is also open to always researching new opportunities and materials in its next line of products. Poulsen didn’t want to reveal company secrets but says House of Marley is looking at new options of stone that could one day land as accents of new accessories.
How cool would it be to buy a new set of headphones that have a granite ear housing? I really hope this is one material that Josh, and the House of Marley, realistically pursue.
Really, it’s more about the use of all the possible materials with the most limited waste. Through its Regrind, Recycled, and Rewind processes the company uses its own particles from virgin scraps materials to reuse in plastics, metals, and fabrics. It really is the core of House of Marley and its team.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Josh Poulsen and it was readily apparent that he believes this is how this company, and others, should operate.
“I absolutely believe that’s how a company should operate. To me, it’s good leadership and we want to be equally sustainable despite being a small brand in the scheme of things. I believe that any little bit we can do it is making an impression with setting a standard.”
High-quality products can be successfully designed, sourced, and produced without destroying vital natural resources or contributing to global warming. House of Marley has shown me that the road map not only exists, but it is pioneering the movement.
While others in the tech industry are also doing their part, many don’t seem to have the same grassroots approach to the effort. House of Marley seems ingrained with this philosophy from the ground up since the beginning.
I’ve truly grown respect for the House of Marley itself and the people I’ve been introduced during this project. Not to mention that the products are really solid! I hope you take the time to check out the full interview below and then use the links to consider House of Marley the next time you’re in the market for audio accessories.