|Since we want to leave as small a footprint on this planet as possible, we employ planet and human friendly business practices wherever possible.
Our environmental and labor standards that we follow:
1) Best Designed Products:
We test and review each product before we sell it to ensure that we are offering the best product ever made, which we define as the best designed, the easiest to use, that really works, that is the most durable, and that is a product that you really need for everyday life. This is a green standard since it ensures that the product will be useful and not get tossed in the trash too soon, thereby creating less waste.
2) Greenest Products:
We also test and review each product before we decide to carry it in order to ensure we are carrying the greenest, most sustainable products available. Criteria that we use to evaluate potential products are whether they are biodegradable, non GMO, nontoxic, organic, recyclable, recycled, reusable, and/or have a low carbon footprint, for instance whether they are produced in the USA in order to lessen the shipping distances. We prefer not to sell products from China for this reason.
3) Healthiest Foods:
Another of our goals is to bring you the healthiest, most nutritious foods and drinks on the market. Criteria we use singly or in combination (the more the better) are fair trade, non GMO, organic, TruGanic™ (beyond organic standards), rawfood, vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, chemical free, gluten free, nonirradiated, preservative free, superfood (highest amount of nutrients), and/or wholefood.
4) We Support Fair Labor:
We follow fair labor criteria in our own business and we only purchase from companies that support fair labor as well. We follow the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code in our own business and we send and ask our suppliers to also follow this code. The nine criteria in the Base Code include, employment is freely chosen; freedom of association; working conditions are safe and hygienic; child labor is not used; living wages are paid; working hours are not excessive; no discrimination is practiced; regular employment is provided; and no harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed. In addition, we follow and encourage our suppliers to follow: community and environmental investments, and employee training programs. Furthermore, the criteria outlined above are only a minimum goal and we strive to far exceed these expectations so that our employees are truly satisfied.
We also look for companies that are organic (www.ota.com) and fair trade certified (www.transfairusa.org), and are non GMO (www.nongmoproject.org) as all of these practices ensure fair treatment of workers and a respect for the environment. Organic for instance is not just beneficial to the end buyer, but also is highly favorable for farmers and farm workers since organic crops don’t require toxic chemicals, thus ensuring their longterm health and safety, and the longterm health and productivity of the soil and ecosystems.
We prefer not to sell products from China since their labor practices are too difficult to verify.
5) Green Shipping Policies:
We strive to use the most environmentally friendly shipping practices that includes, using new and/or reusing only 100% biodegradable boxes and packaging material, using smaller boxes to reduce the amount of material used, and primarily using UPS as our shipper because of their strong environmental policies. Any new material that we purchase must be biodegradable, nontoxic, preferably plant based, recyclable, and/or recycled. In addition, as much as possible we transport packages by bicycle to the UPS dropoff site in order to curb pollution and save fuel.
6) Green Office:
We strive for green practices in our office including, using 100% renewable wind energy to provide electricity; office building is located in a lush garden with vegetable garden, fruit trees, many native flowers and grasses for wildlife, large deciduous trees located on the south side provide summer shade and cooling, and no wasteful lawn; 100% post consumer recycled paper in our copy machine; use both sides of copy papers; use energy efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs; purchase a minimum amount of materials to reduce waste; recycle all materials that may be recycled; our building uses passive solar orientation and natural ventilation when the weather allows for it thereby minimizing our energy use; and our office is located in our home which greatly reduces energy spent on commuting and heating/cooling another building.
7) Green Warehouse:
Since our warehouse is located in a well insulated building, our energy use for heating/cooling is minimal. Our warehouse uses nontoxic, non offgasing materials like metal shelves and cardboard boxes for products storage to ensure our inventory stays fresh and is not harmed.
8) We Support Charities:
Since we feel it is important to give back to humanity and to improve life on Earth, we donate a portion of our sales to what we feel are important causes including, animal rights, bicycling & walking, drug policy reform, environmental & biodiversity protection, and/or social support nonprofit groups. Groups we support include Defenders of Wildlife, Drug Policy Alliance, East Coast Greenway, FINCA International, Gorilla Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, PETA, Rails to Trails Conservancy, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and The Trust for Public Land.
9) Green Supplier Policies:
We place a high priority on purchasing products only from manufacturers who show an environmental and social commitment. Our supplying manufacturers must use at least one or preferably more of these criteria: animal friendly, carbon neutral, chemical free, climate friendly, cruelty free, fair labor, fair trade, green office, green packaging, green shipping methods, natural (non synthetic) products, non GMO, nonirradiated, nontoxic, organic, permaculture, renewable energy sourced electricity, sweatshop free, US made, vegan, vegetarian, and/or the closest supplier since this means less transportation distance. We prefer not to sell products made in China since their organic standards cannot be verified and have been found to be contaminated with chemicals in the past.
10) How We Verify Companies’ Values:
We verify potential suppliers’ green and social record and continually monitor their record through online research, asking other businesses their experiences with these suppliers, asking potential suppliers our questionnaire, and sending potential suppliers the ETI Base Code and asking them if they follow fair labor practices outlined in the code. Only those manufacturers that meet our criteria initially and upon our periodic review will be sold at our webstore.
11) Always Improving Our Practices:
We continually look for ways to improve our practices in order to leave less of an environmental footprint on our planet earth, support animal rights, ensure biodiversity, and create social equity for all. Our goal is to run the greenest, most people friendliest business possible. We have recently improved our business practices to meet Green America’s Green Business (www.greenamericatoday.org) certification and will continue to seek improvements in the future. While doing our part to create an animal, planet, and human friendly world demands more effort and is an ongoing process, we are committed to this cause. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
12) Challenges We Face:
Challenges we face in being green and socially aware and how we deal with these challenges include, a lack of organic, non GMO, and fair trade suppliers, but we still don’t change our standards; a lack of information about companies fair labor practices, but we still ask for information about their commitment to fair labor; higher prices due to organic, non GMO, and fair trade designation and/or lack of competition, so we search for the lowest prices and best quality items available; manufacturers and suppliers highly varying protocols and restrictions (some do not sell to online only retailers like us; some have high minimum orders), so we find companies that are willing and enthusiastic to work with us; communicating to our potential customers that it is better to buy from us because of our green and social standards than other typically larger websites or retail stores that may offer cheaper prices, slicker marketing, but no green or social standards, so we aim to do a better job marketing our strong green and social standards; researching for the best quality green products with truly animal and environmentally friendly, nontoxic, healthy, vegetarian, vegan, rawfood, etc. ingredients demands much time, effort, and money, but we feel it is worth it since striving to meet our green and social standards is what truly matters; being aware of all of the bad ingredients that are synthetic, animal & petroleum derived, socially harmful, unhealthy, and/or environmentally or wildlife destructive (for instance we are phasing out the use of palm oil since its use encourages the destruction of the orangutan and the rain forests in which it lives in Indonesia), but we stay informed about the bad stuff to make sure we are following our green and social standards; and recruiting happy, eco, health, and socially conscious people to work for us is difficult since these people are hard to find, but we feel these types of employees are important to our company’s identity and strength, so we strive to find & employ such people.