Like lots of people, I'm spending New Year's weekend thinking about the good and not so good things of the past year. That prompted me to look at products and suppliers of our company this year. In case you aren't familiar with what we do here besides the garden, we manufacture and sell my herb formulas and herb cookbooks through our website and catalog. Our products are all based on herbs and plants, and some, like Herbal Nail Fungus Soak, are healing; others, like our Roaster Seasoning, give flavor and taste to meals. My Dream Pillows and Dream Pillow blends give pleasant, peaceful sleep. We ship our products all around the world and it is very satisfying to know that people's lives (and toes and fingers) are better because of what we create here. We recycle, we live lightly on the land and we take pride in what we offer our customers.
For my rant, I'm going to mention a box company, and it relates to my garden and to yours, too., no matter where you live. This company gets my "award" this year for being the most detrimental to the environment of any of our suppliers in 2009. This company, Uline, makes great shipping boxes and we are grateful for their good service and helpful personnel. However, they get the award, from me, for being our least green supplier of the year. Why?
Uline sends us between 30 and 50 catalogs a year. One in each order, one to our billing address, one to our shipping address and one a month, regardless. This is important for 2 reasons: 1 - The catalog weighs one and one half pounds! That amounts to between 45 and 75 pounds of paper that is unnecessary. And, 2 - because there is no "opt-out" option. We've requested to be sent just one catalog a year, which would be ample, but the company tells us they can't do that. Other companies who order from Uline have also complained, according to our UPS and FedEx drivers. So, for the least green supplier we have this year, the "Boooo-Bad for the Environment" award goes to Uline. We recycle their catalogs but, how thoughtless of them to waste such resources. With thousands of customers, that's a lot of trees cut down that are totally wasted. No one can use 50 catalogs a year, no matter how big the company is! (And if you'd like to tell them they got the Booooo-Bad for the Environment award this year, or to complain that they are unnecessarily filling the landfills with their wasteful catalog mailing practices, here's the "Contact us" link: http://www.uline.com/CustomerService/ContactUs_menu.aspx).
Lavender Lane comes to mind. They don't have a paper catalog, all of their products are on-line. They've been supplying bottles, jars, packages, oils and special kits for many years. I first met and got acquainted with the owner, Donna, at an herb conference almost two decades ago. I list them in the Sources section of many of my herb books for folks who are in herb-related businesses, simply because Lavender Lane will sell you just one bottle, or a thousand. Thanks, Lavender Lane, we appreciate what you do!
Evening Shade Farms, the nice folks who make our bug-repelling soaps for us, along with other specialty products, are just great folks to know. They have a simple, recyclable catalog, sent out once a year, with a website and fast, personal service. They care about the environment as much as we do. They use their own organically grown herbs and their own goats milk in their soap. I first met the owner, Gayl Bousman, at a Small Farm Conference, again almost two decades ago. Check out their website and if you ask for a catalog, Gayl won't send you pound and half catalog 30 times a year, I promise! (They sell both retail and wholesale).
The HerbPharm are also fantastic to work with. I first met "Herbal Ed" Smith, the founder, at an International Herb Association conference back in the late '80s. He was presenting a program about marketing, both the ethics of what you produce and how it effects people, along with how to price and market what you make. I credit Herbal Ed for opening my eyes to the philosophies of ethical marketing. Their company supplies us with Spilanthes-Usnea Tincture, which we sell as an additional product to our Herbal Nail Fungus Soak, for people with especially difficult nail fungus. (You probably know, any gardener who digs in the ground, eventually will encounter nail fungus). So, to Herbal Ed and all the folks at The HerbPharm, thank you for the outstanding service this year.
So there's my rants and kudos to wrap up the year. Rants about companies that ignore their customers, against companies that could actually do something for the environment in a substantial way but instead continue to produce millions of pounds of over-sized catalogs, wasting resources and filling landfills unnecessarily.
And kudos to companies like The HerbPharm, Lavender Lane and Evening Shade Farms, that care about the environment and conduct their businesses in ethical, sustainable ways.
Here's to a better year ahead for each and everyone who read this blog. Thank you, I appreciate you all!