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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Honest Tea Increases Organic Purchases and Fair Trade Premiums

There is so much to like about Honest Tea’s 2013 Mission Report. The company, founded in 1998, and purchased in 2011 by the Coca-Cola Company, increased organic purchases and fair trade premiums. In fact, Honest Tea increased organic ingredient purchases to 4.9 million pounds in 2012-2013, 13 percent more than the year before, and six times more than 2007.

The company is no stranger to organic ingredients. In 1999, it created the first organic ready-to-drink bottled tea, and in 2004 converted all of its tea and juice drinks to certified organic. The company contributed increased its Fair Trade premiums in 2012-2013 by 19 percent over the previous year. Honest Tea works with Fair Trade USA, and its organic products are certified by Pennsylvania Certified Organic and the USDA National Organic Program.

“Our progress in growing the demand and the supply of organic ingredients helps illustrate that our efforts to democratize organic and healthy beverages are bearing some fruit, but there is still more work to be done,” said Honest Tea co-founder TeaEO, Seth Goldman.

In addition to its organic and fair trade purchasing, Honest Tea is not afraid to take a stand on labeling genetically modified (GMO) products. It not only supports GMO labeling, but states that Honest Tea beverages “do not and have never contained GMOs.” All of its packages are labeled with a “No GMOs” logo in addition to a statement that says, “No GMOs means that if there is a bioengineered version of an ingredient, we don’t use it.” The company’s strong stance on GMO labeling might seem to create friction with its parent company, but Goldman insists that isn’t the case. In a blog post last year, he stated, “There are bound to be moments when our enterprise does not share all of the same ideas as our parent company. But there’s never been any pressure to compromise Honest Tea’s products, our ingredients, or our commitment to our mission.”

Environmental achievements

The Mission Report also highlights Honest Tea’s environmental achievements, which include launching the Great Recycle event in 2011 to encourage consumers to bring their empty beverage containers to one of its giant recycling bins. Consumers earned points for the amount of bottles they brought and could redeem them for items such as bikes or yoga mats. The company collected over 70,000 beverage containers at eight events from April 2012 to April 2013. Other environmental achievements include:
  • Reducing carbon emissions from transit by 1,303 metric tons of carbon for all of its 16.9 fl. oz. PET and glass bottles produced on the West Coast in 2012, the equivalent of removing 274 cars off the road for one year
  • Spent tea leaves are added to compost mixtures by farms near its three tea production facilities
Part of its environmental efforts are customer give-aways of green products. In 2012, Honest Tea gave away over 1,200 foldable bikes to consumers to celebrate events like Earth Month in April and Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. For Earth Month, the company partnered with Dasani brand water to give away phone cases made from 100 percent recycled PET plastic. Honest Tea also teamed up with Annie’s, Stonyfield Yokids and Seventh Generation to give away a reusable lunch bag to consumers who bought two products from any of the partnering brands. The partnership could save up to 836,160 pounds of waste from winding up in the landfill. Photo: Honest Tea
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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