sustainability

Leave It Better: 9 Highlights from Our 2020 Social & Environmental Impact Report

Let’s state the obvious: 2020 was no ordinary year. The COVID-19 pandemic caused untold suffering and upended the way we work, live, and love. The climate reached new levels of crisis, and many countries endured the most destructive wildfire season in recorded history.

And yet, in the face of all this tragedy, we at Gaia Herbs remain hopeful!

We believe that people can move mountains when they put their minds to it, and that the business community can also play a powerful role in making a difference, in making the seemingly impossible possible.

As part of the collective of 3,600+ Certified B Corporations, Gaia Herbs is proud to elevate the interests of all of our stakeholders—our workers, the environment, and our local communities. For more than 30 years, our mission has been to connect people, plants, and planet to create healing. Only when all three are well cared for can that purpose be realized.

Here, we’ve compiled nine highlights from our 2020 Social & Environmental Impact Report, which shares Gaia’s visions for how we can increase our positive social and environmental impact; the milestones we met on this journey last year; and our plan for what’s next as we continue this important work.

People

Sanitizer donation Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs is dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of our employees, our customers, and the communities we partner with worldwide to spread ripples of good at home and around the globe. In 2020, we:

  • Donated 16,500 individual bottles and 217 gallons of hand sanitizer to local essential workers, including healthcare workers, farmworkers, and government officials, as well as to all of the teachers and students in our nearby school district.
  • Introduced new Gaia Herbs values that guide how we operate as a company and how we treat each other as employees: find strength in diversity; leave it better than you found it; as resilient as Nature; lead with courageous curiosity; and collaborate and appreciate.
  • Distributed four $5,000 grants through our Gaia Roots Initiative to herbalists, farmers, and nonprofits working to increase herbal access for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities.
2020 Gaia Roots Small Grants Recipients:
    • Regina Willis of New Beginnings in Clarksville, MS, to plant medicinal gardens for her use in work as an Indigenous doula and lactation consultant supporting pregnant and breastfeeding women.
    • Shea D. Broussard of the Compassionate Acupuncture Project in Durham, NC, who will increase her distribution of herbal self-care bags for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people suffering from depression, anxiety, and insomnia in these troubled times.
    • The Charlotte Herbal Accessibility Project in Charlotte, NC, which will organize a free in-depth course in Herbal Fundamentals, from seed to tincture, for People of Color in its area.
    • The Afrobotanical Sovereignty Garden in New Orleans, LA, which will grow medicinal herbs with historical relevance to Black and Indigenous peoples, make herbal medicines from the garden, and distribute them to communities of color in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Plants

You hear us say it all the time: Plants are powerful. They’re critical to the health of our global ecosystem and have the ability to unlock the potential for human well-being. How they’re grown can also be powerful—powerfully destructive (industrial farming) or powerfully beneficial (regenerative agriculture). At Gaia, we choose to regenerate rather than deplete. In 2020, we:

  • Made important improvements to the Gaia Farm: We restored local stream banks to create protective riparian buffers, planted carbon-sequestering trees between fields of crops, and much more.
  • Partnered with Doselva, a socially responsible organic farming cooperative in Nicaragua. We supported them in developing an electronic and in-person platform to train hundreds of farmers in regenerative farming (specifically agroforestry), and their farmers now grow some of the best Turmeric on Earth for us.
  • Saved 5,646 pounds of seed on the farm, about 80% of the seeds our plants produce, to preserve their genetic integrity and nutritional value and to protect seed biodiversity.

Planet

Zero Waste composting

We take very seriously our role as both students and guardians of the Earth, and we are continually working to tread lighter with each passing year. In 2020, we:

  • Created a cross-departmental Zero Waste Task Force and took other steps to ensure we meet our goal of achieving Zero Waste certification by 2024; learn more about our Zero Waste goals and progress, plus get tips for reducing and reusing at home, here.
  • Sequestered 2,556 metric tons of carbon dioxide on the Gaia Farm—almost our entire operational footprint.
  • Launched our Global Farmer Investment Fund, which invests in regenerative agriculture and community-based projects to support farmers, families, and communities. We were able to support 300+ farmers in Nicaragua who are diversifying their farming systems beyond coffee and grains—which have been hard-hit by climate change—to include medicinal herbs.

The Positive Path Ahead

We’re proud of our progress over the past year, but we also recognize that there is still room for improvement. We know this vital work will never come to full completion, and that there will always be additional ways for us to show up, do better, and move ahead.

We’re excited to continue to broaden our positive impact as a purpose-driven company. Get a more in-depth look at our efforts and learn more about our future plans in the full 2020 Social & Environmental Impact Report.