An actor turned activist, Adrian Grenier has routinely used his platform to bring awareness to environmental causes and injustice. Known for leading roles in Entourage and The Devil Wears Prada, Grenier has since cemented his place as an influential change agent. Grenier is a UN ambassador who helped launch Clean Seas, a campaign to end marine plastic pollution, and cohosted the National Geographic documentary on water conservation, The Last Drop. He also cofounded Lonely Whale, a nonprofit focused on education and awareness about the health of the world’s oceans and marine life.
As an investor, Grenier backs entrepreneurs and companies that work to effect positive change in the world. Through his impact firm, DuContra Ventures, Grenier looks to support companies focused on four vertices: human flourishing (mental health, wellness, and longevity); sustainable consumption (consumer packaged goods, marketplaces, and software); the future of finance (better-for-the-planet investing and tools for the giving economy); and communities (wellness retreats).
One such company is Blueland, creator of a line of plastic-free household cleaners working to reduce consumer reliance on single-use plastic containers.
- Startup: Blueland
- Location: New York City
- Year founded: 2019
- Valuation: Not disclosed
- Investment level: Seed (Grenier told Fortune he invested $100,000.)
- Number of employees: 28
- Other major investors: Justin Timberlake, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Minkoff, Sophia Amoruso
Why he invested, in his own words
I am happy I have the chance to make a positive impact by aligning my investments with companies that reflect my values—looking for ways to extinguish human, animal, and environmental exploitation—and building a better world that we know is possible. It’s no mystery that money drives and shapes our world. It’s the creative tool that can be used to manifest positive change, whether it’s to find alternatives to plastic or curb its use.
As an advocate for environmental causes, I believe we need to fix the issue from the source: manufacturing and consumption. Blueland glaringly stood out. It’s not often that you see companies that will actually solve a problem and also be aspirational and aesthetically compelling on social media. I respect their commitment to building sustainability into the DNA of Blueland’s business model. The founders are patient enough to make sure not to betray their core values with their success. There is so much room to grow, so many ways for Blueland to continue to reduce single-use plastic.
We have a major plastic pollution problem. That is a pandemic of its own, just on a longer timeline, and Blueland brings a real solution to this issue. Now, when battling COVID-19, when everybody was isolated at home and being extra mindful about staying hygienic, there was a spike in plastic use because of concern for cross contamination. Blueland became even more important. Their innovative product helps reduce plastic consumption by letting consumers simply add water to compressed tablets of cleaning agents [and refill a reusable bottle]. Because it’s a home delivery system, it helped reduce trips to the store, especially while stay-at-home orders were in place.
Wise investments can have a better impact on people and our planet. What I value as an investor is not only ROI but also YBM: yield beyond money. This is a qualitative and quantitative assessment protocol created by DuContra and used to evaluate the intangible values beyond our calculator’s reach. YBM accounts for the levels of joy, growth, and human flourishing that our community of investors, team, and entrepreneurs receive by being intimately engaged with the fund’s investments and each other. I am glad to be part of a new economy, a new world, always keeping in mind how intimately connected our future is with all other life on earth.
More finance coverage from Fortune:
- These companies are among the country’s largest contributors to climate change—and a new bill aims to make them pay for it
- Billionaire business owners saved millions due to obscure 2017 tax change, ProPublica finds
- No lockdown, no problem—Deliveroo delivers a timely surge in sales
- The blockbuster Lionel Messi deal is triggering an unlikely rally—in crypto
- USPS plans to charge more for packages shipped during the holidays
This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.