House of Marley Is Trying to Pin the Sustainable Headphone Market
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House of Marley Is Trying to Pin the Sustainable Headphone Market

Aug 14, 2023

In the aughts, a series of new audio companies sprung up, hoping to gnaw into Sony and Bose’s market share: Skullcandy in 2003, Beats By Dre in 2006, Sol Republic in 2010. Though they might vary slightly in quality and bass-heaviness, most headphones then and now are made the same environmentally unfriendly way: with injection-mold virgin plastic, glued together with toxic adhesives, wrapped in more plastic, used for a couple of years and then tossed into a landfill to make room for the upgrade.

When electronics guru Alon Kaufman of HoMedics approached the scions of reggae legend Bob Marley in 2010 about attaching the family name to yet another headphone and speaker enterprise, the pitch was to do things differently. Sustainably.

Marley’s son Rohan Marley agreed, House of Marley was born, and everything the company makes is made with the planet in mind. That includes using wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, recycled aluminum, silicone from post-consumer waste, and recycled fabric composed of organic cotton, and hemp in place of plastic and cheap wood veneer, wherever possible.

“It’s all about the Earth, how we treat the Earth,” Marley, the company’s co-founder, says in a video the company produced. “What we give to the earth is what the Earth will provide for you. We’re trying to find materials that are durable, that can last a lifetime.”

Sustainability means better sound quality, says Cody Brooner, head of product. Materials such as bamboo “are great insulators for sound,” he says.

“Walk down the aisle at Best Buy or Target, it’s a sea of sameness—a lot of black and gray, Brooner says. “We want to be different, not only in our design and materials, but our approach to the whole industry. It’s hard being a hardgoods consumer electronics company with this mindset. But wherever materials and technology allow, we’re going to try to bring a new approach to how we do things, to continue to push it forward.”


The Stir It Up Wireless Turntable connects to any Bluetooth-enabled speaker, as well as via RCA output and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has a built-in switch pre-amp, and can be connected via USB to a computer to convert records to digital files. The turntable is crafted from a solid bamboo plinth, a recyclable aluminum alloy platter. The sides and bottom aren’t plastic but are made with reclaimed and recycled materials. The slip mat is also made from a mix of recycled plastic and rubber. The dust cover is hemp.

In July, the company launched the Positive Vibration Frequency Headphones and the Champion 2 True Wireless Earbuds. Both are packaged in recyclable packaging built from paper fiber. The over-ear bluetooth headphones offer up to 34 hours of listening and are made with FSC certified wood, recyclable aluminum and sustainable fabric. The earbuds run for 35 hours and are made with a natural wood fiber composite and the company’s sustainable silicone material.


The Stir It Up Wireless Turntable with Bluetooth is US$249. A wired option is US$199, and it can be bundled with the Get Together 2 XL Bluetooth speaker for US$579. The headphones are US$99, the earbuds US$89.


Bamboo requires no fertilizers or pesticides, and it regenerates rapidly from its own roots. Plus, it’s stronger than other wood. The fabric, which the company calls Rewind, is woven from a blend of organic cotton, reclaimed hemp, and recycled polyethylene terephthalate. The silicone the company uses is called Regrind. It’s made by reclaiming and upcycling post-process and post-consumer silicone scraps that would otherwise be thrown out. The aluminum used is recyclable, and the packaging is 100% recyclable and plastic-free.

Beyond building its products with sustainable materials, House of Marley has partnered with One Tree Planted, which has led to nearly 500,000 trees planted to date in Indonesia, British Columbia, Florida, and California.


As other electronics companies expand their own sustainability efforts, that helps lower the cost of goods for companies like House of Marley. “Consumer electronics is a big contributor to global waste,” Brooner says. “If the big guys are getting on board with being better stewards of the environment, that’s great for us, because we’ve been doing that from day one. When there’s growing demand for sustainably made plastics, that allows us to expand our offerings because the availability of those materials goes up and the price goes down.”

The company’s focus now is on making its materials more sustainable. Reclaimed plastics are often not as durable as necessary for long-lasting products, because they’ve been damaged by UV exposure, so the company is researching how to use more industrial manufacturing scraps and employing them in future products.