Suz Hernandez, founder of Mama P, grew tired of plastic waste all around us- she’s on a mission to eliminate over 1 billion disposable plastic toothbrushes. Learn more about her journey below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you come to create Mama P?
Hi! I’m Suzan (“Suz”) Hernandez, Founder and CEO at MamaP. Born mixed-race in Nebraska, I grew up in LA in near the ocean. For over 20 years, I’ve been vegetarian and studied eastern philosophies – really feeling a connection to Taoism and Buddhism. Coming from a family of strong women, I was raised to see people for their character above all else. Skin color, socio-economic, or whatever didn’t matter to my family. Who you were as a person is what really mattered. My career spans a wide range from fashion advertising to product and commercial strategy at Nike, to now making the world a better place with MamaP.
It wasn’t until moving to NYC when things started to change. You know the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? Well, it legit changed the trajectory of my life for the better. Decluttering helped me reconnect with who I always was – caring for nature, the people, and living things. I wanted to live a greener lifestyle but found it really hard to do, especially while living in NYC.
It was 2016, and I dove into the world of sustainability learning EVERYTHING possible about a low waste lifestyle. I went to Amazon to find products – you know, bamboo toothbrushes, “sponges” and trash bags that are biodegradable. But at the end of the day, it was just green-washing because when I got the products, they’d come wrapped in plastic, with bubble wrap, in huge boxes. Bubble wrap for trash bags? It was going against everything I was trying to achieve. It was frustrating seeing companies’ values not align with the products they were selling. I was like: we can do better, people!
This was around the time of the election. It seemed everyone in my Hell’s Kitchen community felt lost and hopeless. It felt like sitting in the eye of a storm – everyone was soliciting donations to help fight for women’s rights, or LGBTQ+ equality, or the environment. I didn’t know what to do and felt stuck.
As these two worlds collided, that’s when I said: “I’m going to start a company.” A company that honors our health, gives back to communities, and helps to reverse climate change. The company would inspire people to make changes, impact the world and other cultures, and people in a positive way. With my product background, I knew products could be made better, they could look good, feel good, and they wouldn’t hurt your body. And I knew MamaP would give back from day one. You know what? The more I spoke to about this, the more people wanted to buy these non-existent products.
So, MamaP started with bamboo toothbrushes. Did you know one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States? Some plastic takes up to 1,000 years to break down. It’s an easy switch and really adds up. With each MamaP toothbrush color, we connect it to a cause so that our customers choose what to support. It’s a simple reminder everyday that you can do good by making small changes.
MamaP comes from the word Pachamama, or the Incan goddess for Mother Earth. The Incans believed that if they took care of Pachamama, she in turn would care for them. MamaP aims to take this ancient philosophy and bring it to our modern time. Pachamama really could use our help these days.
The term super-plant perfectly fits bamboo — the world’s fastest growing woody plant — because it saves our Earth on a daily basis. As a carbon off-setter, it absorbs 5 times more carbon dioxide while producing 35% more oxygen. It even has the power of regeneration, allowing it to be sustainable. Beyond that, bamboo helps its neighbors by reducing erosion with its soil nourishing ability. Even with all of its strengths, bamboo still finds a way to be humble — requiring no pesticides and needing less water than other plants.
Fun fact: We source our bamboo from the Fujian province, home of the Giant Panda. So when you brush with our bamboo toothbrush, you and the Giant Panda share the same morning routine!
Can you tell us a little bit about the organizations and causes you partner with?
We support five organizations that work to reverse climate change and fund research, protect human rights, and support people’s well-being. We’ve found our customers have fun choosing their cause when it’s time to change out their bamboo toothbrush. MamaP gives back 5% of sales annually.
The Ocean Foundation is the only community foundation for the ocean. The Ocean Foundation’s mission is to support, strengthen, and promote organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. From scientific research to restoration – they even have a program called SeaGrass Grow. That project plants seagrass to restore biodiversity and offset carbons. You can calculate your annual carbon footprint and offset it through their program. MamaP offsets our carbon emissions every year!
Save The Bees
The Xerces Society protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats – like the bees! It’s a science-based conservation organization that works with diverse partners that include scientists, land managers, educators, policymakers, farmers, and communities. By utilizing applied research, engaging in advocacy, providing educational resources, addressing policy implications, and building community, they endeavor to make meaningful long-term conservation a reality.
National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI works to educate, advocate, listen and lead to improve the lives of people with mental illness and their loved ones. They help create a world where all people affected by mental illness can experience hope, recovery, wellness and freedom from stigma. They offer online resources for family and loved ones, in addition to local resources guides.
Planned Parenthood is America’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care. Their skilled health care professionals are dedicated to offering all people high-quality, affordable medical care. One in five American women has chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once in her life. They provide health care and support and resources to not only womxn, but everyone no matter how you identify.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. It’s an incredible organization and they truly dedicate themselves to supporting the youth by offering a 24/7 crisis hotline, instant messaging and texting service to speak with counselors, and a resource support center for youth and their caregivers.
If you could have tea with anyone living or dead who would you have tea with and what kind of tea would you serve them?
I’d love to have tea with the Dalai Lama, it would be such a fun conversation. Tea served: blooming flower tea in a clear pot. Because why not? It’s nice sprinkling in natural beauty in the everyday.
What do you hope to see in the future of sustainability?
While I’m optimistic for the future, I do believe our governments need to step up and set policy and grant programs to help drive more sustainability innovation. There’s only so much as citizens we can do by volunteering, donating, and protesting. Companies can also play a vital role in carefully planning their supply chains and planning with the end in mind. It isn’t fair to consumers for taking full responsibility in disposing of end-of-life packaging – without accessible systems in place or having simple solutions (like composting).
- Sun: Gemini
- Moon: Scorpio
- Ascendant: Capricorn
Thank you, Suz! Learn more about Mama P here!