Organic & Sustainable- What Does it Mean?
My goal with Tupelo Honey Teas has always been to do the right things for people and the planet. I would venture to guess that I spend more than almost all other local tea shops to ensure I maintain these standards. Really, it is OK by me because I know in doing so, I’m running a healthy business.
A few weeks ago at the local library, I was browsing before my pilates class. I passed a book called “Stirring it Up” by Gary Hirshberg. Gary is the CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farms. My family eats only Stonyfield yogurt and currently we are drinking their milk. I wanted to read about his successes in the organic industry, so I picked it up. To say it is a “light” for my path to be completely sustainable is only scratching the surface. Honestly, when it comes to business books this is by far the best one I’ve read yet. Gary “gets” me in a city where not many people do.
About two or three weeks ago, a woman came by the stand. She was with her teen aged/adult kids. We started chatting the same way I do with all of the clients, talking teas they like. She started asking me questions, which I absolutely LOVE! No one is going to know my passion for tea and good organic teas until they talk to me. Every thing I said, she would respond with, “I LOVE THIS!” or “I LOVE YOU!” or “YES!”. She was a kindred spirit. She knows what I know and what Gary Hirshberg knows; Eating Organic isn’t a phase, it isn’t a fad, it is the right thing to do for yourself and Mother Earth. I could get on a soapbox here, but I’ll let a paragraph from “Stirring it Up” have the box.
“The skeptics say that organic isn’t proven yet. But I say it’s chemicals that aren’t proven. All of humanity ate organic food until the early part of the twentieth century. We’ve been on a chemical binge diet for about eighty years — an eyeblink in planetary history — and what do we have to show for it? We’ve lost one-third of America’s topsoil, buried toxic waste everywhere, polluted and depleted water systems, worsened global warming and exacerbated ailments ranging from cancer to diabetes to obesity.”
In this one statement, I will rest until another time when I get on the soapbox. Gary writes a compelling book for any entrepreneur or business owner to seek the path that is best for the environment and the rest will follow. I agree. I agreed before I read the book. Such as the case with my compostable cups. I could have gotten the “recyclable” cups for about half the cost and regular cups for about a quarter of the cost as the compostable. But my inner being believes so heavily in composting and returning what we take from the earth back to the earth, that I spend much more on my cups. Some people say I’m crazy. And trust me if you would look at my books, you’d say I’m crazy too. But I just cannot and WILL NOT compromise my beliefs for a bottom line.
Which is also why I do not have one supplier for my teas. I seek out not only the best tasting teas, but also the organic teas. Most tea shops call up one supplier and order in their tea. This takes down the cost because shipping is spread over 30-100 different teas and one often gets a discount for bulk ordering. I have 5 suppliers, at least. I pay a LOT in shipping, but it is because I want only the best stuff I can get given my parameters. One company offers carbon offsets, which I do purchase. In the future, I plan to offset all of my carbon from shipping.
What I am laying out here for all to see are my intentions for running a green business. I have work to do and if you read, “Stirring it Up” you will see even Stonyfield has work to do. I believe as long as your original intention is good and you are working toward bettering your business using methods that better our planet, our people, our lives, then good things will come in time.
Bee Well. Drink Tupelo Honey Teas.
The Tea Lady