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Badger Balm Pays More Than Lip Service To Fair Trade

Leon Kaye | Friday January 7th, 2011 | 0 Comments

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Triple Pundit has a long history of showcasing companies who embrace fair trade for several reasons.  Some benefits of fair trade are obvious: greater consumer awareness of the lifecycle impact a product; safer working conditions and more promising economic opportunities for farm and factory employees abroad; and an improved environment from better land and resource stewardship.

Coffee, chocolate, and bananas come to mind when we think about fair trade products, but more creative entrepreneurs have introduced products that are good for those of us in the West and suppliers abroad.

One such company is Badger Balm, which has its origins in Bill and Katie Whyte’s New Hampshire home in 1995.  Bill was a carpenter during the day and during his free time was a budding herbalist.  Working outside, exposed to the harsh New England winters, Bill could not find a product to heal his hands after a day of hard work.  He began to tinker in his kitchen, and experimented with a bevy of ingredients, including olive oil, beeswax, aloe vera, castor oil, and a local product, oil extracted from sweet birch trees.  After numerous near hits and misses, a company was eventually born.

Badger Balm now employs 40 employees in Gilsum, New Hampshire.  The Whyte’s and their fellow workers in their self described “Badger Mine” churn out several product lines, including essential oils, body butters, sun care lotions, soaps, and body care products for children and infants.

One product that especially succeeds in the pairing of both free trade and organic ingredients is Badger Balms’ Cocoa Butter Lip Balm collection.  The balms are a blend of Fair Trade cocoa butter, plus organic ingredients like beeswax, olive oil, and CO2 extracts of seabuckthorn and rose hips.

The Whyte’s and Badger Balm have found success with their body care line.  Large retail chains including Wegman’s, Whole Food, and REI carry various products, and they have an online store as well.

Like other companies that are conscientious about their raw materials, Badger Balm has its challenges.  Only a fraction of their ingredients are certified as fair trade because many of the ingredients are obscure, or are bought in such small quantities that it is not feasible to undertake the certification process.  Nevertheless, the commitment is there, and the Whyte’s company is doing more than their fair share to raise awareness about fair trade issues.

Leon Kaye is the editor and founder of GreenGoPost.com, and can be followed on Twitter.


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