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Natural and sustainable

Natural

What makes a product a natural product?  Unfortunately, there is no industry consensus regarding the term natural.  In 2010 there were at least 340 different health and environmental certifications available from ratings organizations and thousands of claims made about natural products.  Few of these organizations are policed, leading to 'greenwashing' of product claims.(1)  An independant study has shown that 98 percent of green product claims contained false or misleading information.(2)

Knowing these facts, we feel it's important to clearly define 'natural' as it relates to our products:

Ingredients used to make our products occur naturally in nature and are acquired from organic sources whenever possible. Our natural products are made from ingredients that do not cause cancer, allergies or hormone disorders in humans. Product ingredients are clearly labeled and may be researched in our product glossary.

 

Sustainable

"Know your impacts, favor improvement and share what you learn."  These are the words of Daniel Goleman as he described sustainablity in his book Ecological Intelligence.(3) Simply put, how we interact with nature matters.  But how does a small company generate income while at the same time manage our environmental and social responsibilities?  How can we give back to the environment as much if not more than we've taken away?

We summed up these questions with one core value: we take care of Our Mother.  Taking care of Our Mother requires a collective mindset and a bit of structure.  We structure our sustainability effort with checklists. (4)

Naturalfootcareproducts.com sustainability checklists:

Business

1. Business values include a committment to social and environmental responsibility.
2. Ongoing training of employees to reinforce our committment to Our Mother.
3. Dedicated director who reviews the social and environmental actions of our company.
4. Our business methods are transparent.
5. Our business methods benefit the commons.

Communication

1. We meet regularly with all employees and communicate a clear business mission.
2. We publish a policies and procedures manual that clearly defines our social and environmental responsibilities.

Products

1. We make high quality, all-natural, low impact products.
2. We make products that have an identifiable benefit to the user.
3. Our products benefit the commons.
4. We make products that are multifunctional.
5. We are transparent about the enviromental impact of our products.
6. We design products to use as much recycled and recyclable materials as possible.

Community

1. We use local resources including banking, shipping materials and product materials whenever possible.
2. We support our community's open space with a 1% donation of all profits.
3. We encourage our employees to participate in volunteer activities.

Facility

1. We use a high efficiency furnace.
2. Open air policy.
3. Windows are high efficiency double-pane.
4. We use a NEST thermostat.
5. Overhead lighting with high efficiency T-8 bulbs and LED bulbs.
6. We maintain an on-site garden to feed staff locally grown fruits and vegtables.

Waste reduction

1. We target zero waste to the landfill.
2. We recycle all paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, plastic film and metal.
3. We use chlorine free products.
4. We do not generate mailers or a print catalog.
5. We refill printer cartridges.
6. We do not use plastic shopping bags in our retail facility.

References

(1) Humes, E. Force of Nature: the unlikely story of WalM-Mart's green revolution.  HarperCollins Publishers 2011.

(2) Testimony of M. Scot Case, exec. Dir of TerraChoice's EcoLogo certification program before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, June 9, 2009.

(3) Goleman, Daniel.  Ecological Intelligence, New York: Broadway Books 2009.

(4) Chounard, Y, Stanley, V. The Responsible Company, Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA 2012