Climate Change: Paris Agreement and Gaia’s Commitment

Without nature, nothing is possible. If we stop heeding her wisdom, we cannot thrive in this world — nothing and no one can. Right now, Mother Nature is hurting and she is speaking loudly to us. We are at a critical point in history – and we all must act in ways that will respect the forces of nature and keep our planet safe and thriving.

Since 1987, one of our founding tenets has been to uphold the wisdom of nature and to do no harm to the people and plants living on this planet. Every decision at Gaia — from the recycled paper we select for our printers to the sustainable farming practices we employ on our 350-acre Certified Organic farm — take this commitment into consideration.

About the Climate Collaborative

As a mission-driven company, our partnership with the Climate Collaborative is essential for us as a company to fight climate change. This group of like-minded, concerned companies from within the natural products industry is working at multiple levels to ensure that the health of our planet is at the center of our business operations. We are working together to “catalyze bold action, amplify the voice of business and promote sound policy to reverse climate change.” The Climate Collaborative launched on Climate Day at Expo West, our industry’s largest trade show, in March 2017.

Gaia stands alongside fellow eco-minded companies like Dr. Bronner’s, Califia Farms and Patagonia — there are over 80 in total to date — to take a stand to help reverse climate change. The announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement climate accord came just months after the Collaborative was founded, and Gaia joined in also signing an open letter to Washington, urging the government to remain committed to reversing climate change.

Gaia Herbs CEO Ric Scalzo“Nature is our greatest teacher,” says Gaia CEO and Founder Ric Scalzo, “and she is urging us to pause and listen to the effects that climate change is having on our planet. I see it every day, as I walk the fields of the Gaia Farm, and it strengthens my resolve to do right by nature. Since 1987, Gaia has been an industry leader in sustainability, and I am honored that we now get to create synergy by joining forces with other thought leaders in the natural products industry. Each of us — whether a large company or a single individual — can make a difference. Though our mission has always been to do heed Plant Intelligence, now is the time for us to speak up about our efforts, and call on others to do the same.” 

Gaia has signed on to support the reversal of climate change in several areas, many of which we already do: integrating carbon farming into our agricultural supply chain, increasing energy efficiency, removing commodity-driven deforestation from supply chains, reducing the climate impact of packaging, reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions, reducing the climate impact of transportation and committing to renewable power.

Our Continued Commitment to Sustainability

As a company that grows organic herbs, sources herbs from all over the world, and manufactures herbal products, we are in a unique position to witness the effects our decisions have on the planet. We chose our home in Brevard, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, because this region is one of the most biodiverse in the country — and that allows everyone who works at our company the ability to get up close and personal with the wonder of nature. 

Gaia practices regenerative agricultureOn our Certified Organic farm, we are reminded every day of our role to steward healthy relationships between plants and people. Agricultural methods are one of the most significant contributors to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. At the same time, they are one of the most powerful tools we have to potentially reverse climate change. Conventional industrial farming practices like mono-cropping, deep tilling and overuse of pesticides expedite the erosion of vital topsoil, killing off the microorganisms that help build soil carbon and allow the soil to serve as a natural “carbon sink,” by drawing carbon released into the atmosphere back into the earth.

It’s all about balance: Carbon is the building block of life, but human activity has severely disrupted this balance, heating up our planet and causing severe climate damage. Regenerative agriculture allows us to put this carbon back into the ground. More carbon in the ground is good for us; it creates healthier soil full of microorganisms, creating a more biodiverse ecosystem that is able to store more water – creating plants that are most nutrient dense and more resistant to drought.

It doesn’t stop in the fields. From seed to shelf, on our farm and throughout our manufacturing process, we continually look for new ways to reduce our footprint and lighten the load we demand of our natural world. Just last year, for examples, our practices yielded these results:

  • 2,450,000 total pounds of CO2 captured by farming our land organically
  • 42 tons of CO2 emissions saved by our packaging choices, such as repurposing & recycling cardboard
  • 74 tons of CO2 emissions saved this past year from using biodiesel

While we can control what happens on our farm, we are not an island and need the support of others to ensure the continued health of our planet. By participating in the Climate Collaborative and teaming up with these forward-thinking businesses focused on change, we are able to harness one of the most incredible phenomena in nature: synergy. Together, we are stronger than each of us alone.

“This is our duty as a mission-driven company,” Scalzo says. “We want to keep the planet healthy for future generations.”

Action is needed now, and the good news is there are simple things that each of us can do to contribute to slowing down, and reversing, climate change. Here are three steps you can implement today:

  1. Reduce food waste. More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, contributing to about 21% of the total waste stream. Landfills are a significant contributor to methane gas in our atmosphere, and reducing food waste will not only fight climate change, but it will also help keep nutritious food in communities. As a company, we reduce food waste by donating fresh, organic vegetables to our local community kitchen, Bread of Life, in Brevard. As an individual, you can learn more about how you can reduce food waste through the educational programming at the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is doing important work in this area.Gaia Farm organic tomatoes
  2. Eat a plant rich diet. The industrial meat industry of the West contributes to 1/5 of total global emissions. If the industrial cattle industry were its own country, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Changing your diet is not an easy task, but there are numerous resources to help get you started. If a complete plant based diet is not for you, opt for smaller quantities of high quality local meats, including grass-fed beef and humanely raised chicken.
  3. Use LED light bulbs. An invention by two Japanese scientists in 1994 who were later awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, LED light bulbs are a simple way we can fight climate change. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of light, and half as much as compact fluorescents, without toxic mercury. The price of LED lightbulbs is dropping rapidly, and LED lights will last about 50 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.