GCI magazine’s interview with natural and organic cosmetics and personal care brand owners and suppliers turned up more answers than we could print in our March 2008 issue. Here is a second major topic we explored. Stay tuned, as this is part of an ongoing series of discussion topics.
GCI: How important is it to go green at your company, and how does producing a natural or organic brand further the eco-friendly vision you have?
Nick Koutsianas, Founder, APIVITA S.A., www.apivita.gr: Actually, this is the most important element in our philosophy and definitely something that we supported long before it became a trend in the market. Our vision was and still is the use of renewable sources of energy, the holistic approach in resolving everyday health and beauty problems and not just the treatment of symptoms, [but] striking a balance of body, mind and soul, [while] protecting the environment. Our new “go green” approach includes one of Greece’s first, bio-climate type production plants, which is going to be ready for APIVITA next October. State-of-the-art filters will be used in order to keep gas emissions as low as possible. Also, a standard unit of biological cleaning will be set up for the liquid waste whose water is going to be used for the garden around the plant. Solar systems will be implemented in order to utilize renewable sources of energy and reduce the levels of energy loss. The whole plant is designed to be of low nuisance to the community and hopefully an inspiration for the people towards a more natural way of life. Apart from that, through APIVITA’s participation in a new company named Holophyton, we will ensure the traceability of our raw materials. Holophyton will be cultivating aromatic and pharmaceutical plants and will also produce bee products. Through its collaboration with Universities and Research Institutions, Holophyton will apply fiducial methods of cultivation in order to achieve the maximum percentage of active ingredients in the products.
Mike Indursky, Chief Marketing & Strategic Officer, Burt’s Bees Inc., www.burtsbees.com: This company was founded on two simple and profound beliefs: natural products work in harmony with our bodies to promote balance and well-being; and we should respect, preserve and improve the precious resource of our environment. To effectively operate at the highest levels of sustainability, we have set 2020 Sustainability Goals and key performance indexes regarding waste and energy reduction. In fact, all employee bonuses are tied to performance in sustainability. Specifically, here are some of the ways we’re reaching our goals. We have offset all of our energy use through Renewable Choice Energy until we have access to alternative energy sources for our operations in N.C. We are partnering with the Pollinator Partnership to raise awareness of declining honeybee health, an issue near and dear to us. We produced a PSA on the subject which ran before Bee Movie (first two weeks of launch). The PSA encouraged consumers to sign up for bee-friendly seeds on our Web site, and millions of flowers have been planted as a result. We are dedicated to environmentally sensitive packaging as outlined above. We use LEAN manufacturing processes to ensure that we operate our facilities with the least amount of energy, water and waste. We’ve forged a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which to start, has resulted in a completed home in the first low-income green community in North Carolina, Hope Crossing. Over 160 employees dedicated nearly 2,000 hours to help build the home and have supplemented the company’s sponsorship with their own resources to provide additional green features, such as solar panels. The new Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation will extend our philanthropic effort through a giving program funded by a percentage of sales that will support local and national organizations working in the areas of our Greater Good model—natural (well-being), environmental (sustainability) and humanitarian (social responsibility).
Curt Valva, General Manager, AUBREY ORGANICS, Inc., www.aubrey-organics.com: For us, being green is not new. It has been a way of life for many years. Being green is not just about what is contained in the product. It is about manufacturing methods, sourcing, up-and-downstream critical decisions, and we take those very seriously. We do not release toxins into the air, land or water. What is refreshing is that others are catching on. Manufacturing a green, sustainable product has been at the forefront of our mission for many years. It is just too bad it took a fad for others to get on the bandwagon, but we are happy as it is the best thing for our planet.
Achille Riviello, Perfumer, drom Fragrances International, Ltd., www.drom.com: Going green makes sense—and not just from the business perspective. Of course, the consumers are demanding more and more eco-friendly and organic products, and these consumers speak with their wallets. We need to be responsive to their demands, or we will be behind curve instead of in our customary position, ahead of it. drom’s eco-responsible philosophy also underlines such an approach, and our management team includes an officer dedicated to insuring our green path. In addition to other plans, we will install in 2008 enough solar-panel electric generation capacity to power our entire German creative and production facility that employs 170 people. drom is also environmentally certified according to DIN EN 14001:2005.
Debbie Ludington, President, Sweet Grass Farm, www.sweetgrassonline.com: We have always been green since our company was started 10 years ago. You have to realize that I come from a long lineage of New Englanders, and we are well known for our frugality, our “waste not, want not” philosophy to life. Most of my employees are family members or old friends, and we all garden, eat healthy, avoid processed foods and chemicals, raise bees, etc. Most of the staff looks at every by-product and tries to think of another use. Every few months we have to have a major clean-out and carting to the recycling center, because everyone hoards goods with an eye for future reuse! We trade our inbound packaging with another company that uses it for their outbound shipments. We have been using green packaging for years. We never used those nasty styrene packing peanuts, for instance. We have always used biodegradable packing materials. There is no bubble wrap at Sweet Grass Farm; we use unbleached paper. Our product packaging has always been simple, and our bottles and glass jars are recyclable. And there is always more that we could—and will—do as materials become more widely available.
Carina Menzies, Owner, Everyday Minerals, www.everydayminerals.com: We’re the only company I know that goes overseas to investigate whether or not the products and components being provided are actually organic and sustainable. People think the USDA certification is the entire picture. It isn’t. What good is the label when your product plundered a Thai village of all of its white tea leaves and has left it with nothing? You need to go that extra mile and determine if the sources of your products have integrity.
Angella Green, Brand Manager, JASON Natural Products, www.jason-natural.com: JASON’s unit cartons are made from 100% recycled stock, and now, our collateral pieces are even made from 100% post consumer waste and are ancient forest-friendly.
Ido Leffler, CEO, Yes To Carrots, www.yes-to-carrots.com: To reduce the number of people driving to the factory, we’ve bought a Yes To Carrots shuttle, so people can get to work together. Our manufacturing facilities are located in Israel’s Negev desert—an economic development zone—and provides jobs to 160 local residents that might otherwise not have employment opportunities near their homes…. A very important initiative for the company is the Yes To Carrots Seed Fund. This nonprofit fund was founded to help communities in need develop and maintain an organic food source. We work with our partner organizations to provide these groups with equipment, seeds, irrigation support and other tools to keep them going.
Noah Bremen, President, Noah’s Naturals, www.noahsnaturals.com: Noah’s Naturals is now a member of 1% for the Planet, the leading organization for eco-friendly charities. 1% of our sales are donated to charities that specifically ensure our precious earth is protected.
Sharon Christie, President and CEO, Aromafloria, www.aromafloria.com: We have been 100% wind powered for the past two years, and we became organically certified last year.