It's Earth Day today and it's a great day to reassess the businesses that we support, the ways that we are working toward sustainability in our own lives, and what ways we can encourage businesses we love to take more steps toward more sustainable business practices. With all this reassessing we are doing, we can confidently observe what makes a sustainable business, and even more specifically, what makes a sustainable CBD brand.
Before we pull out our torches and pitchforks, it's always important to remember that living and operating sustainably is to choose the rocky, uphill path. Sustainable living is expensive, not easily accessible, and it can take time to make intentional changes.
Mass manufacturing and on-demand living have created a culture and expectation of low quality goods being sold at large for low prices. This creates a major challenge for small to medium sized businesses who are trying to operate intentionally and with the earth in mind. Manufacturing quality goods in an eco-friendly way creates a much higher barrier to entry for new brands to enter any space and requires higher price points for the end customer in order to sustain such high sourcing and manufacturing costs.
In the CBD industry there are a few ways brands are operating:
1. White Label sourcing. Brands can create an entire business around CBD products that are developed, formulated, packaged, and shipped by a white label company that is sending the same product to other brands with a different label on the bottle. It's important to understand that in a white label situation, the brand owner might not know exactly how eco friendly their production practices actually are because their products are developed by someone else.
If this is how your favorite brand operates, kindly inquire about their production practices to insure they are aware of how eco friendly their brand truly is and that they are willing to share those practices with you, their customers. Keep in mind to always communicate thoughtfully! Brand owners are human beings with lives and families and are usually trying to do their best. A thoughtful conversation about things that are important to you go a long way!
2. CBD sourcing + in-house formulation. Brands can source their hemp extract directly from a farm and create their own products by formulating in their own warehouses. This is a great option for brands who don't have the capacity to farm their own hemp but also want to be in control of how products are developed and created.
In this case, your favorite brand will be able to answer all your questions about sustainability practices regarding their product development. But it is still important to make sure your favorite brand is partnering with hemp farms who implement sustainable farming practices. There are many wonderful hemp farms who have thoughtful and intentional operations!
3. Hemp farming + product production. This is typically called a "vertically integrated" business where the brand does everything from start to finish. Seed to bottle production. There are fewer and fewer brands operating this way as the barrier to entry is quite high as a brand needs to acquire land, farming equipment, facility for plant care and drying, extraction equipment, and more before the product can even begin to be formulated. It's a lot and if your favorite brand operates this way, hats off to them!
If your favorite brand is truly seed to bottle, they will be able to answer every question you have about their practices, sustainability and quality assurances.
Common Ground is currently transitioning from a seed to bottle brand to sourcing our hemp from small sustainable farms and processing/formulating in-house. With a current market saturation of bio-mass, it is more cost effective for us to support another farmer that produces to our quality standards than it is for us to cultivate in-house. As we analyze the sustainability of our operation, we have found that our choice to consume product that is being produced in excess, rather than compete to produce our own bio-mass is the more financial and ecologically sustainable approach for the time being.
We are going to miss our farm and miss the special connection that we develop with our plants, but we are confident that at this time and place, it is the right approach for our brand, our consumers and the earth.
Additionally, other changes including updates to our packaging and product offerings are considerations that we are always evaluating and don't take lightly. Concerns around the use of disposable plastics is something that we are aware of and while we use as many post-consumer recycled and biodegradable components as possible, we are still constantly aiming to do better and eliminate the usage of excess materials anywhere we can. This internal conversation has led to some potential changes around our Wellness Tea offerings and packaging (hints and updates coming soon).
It's ok to have these conversations with your favorite CBD brands! We are all trying to do better for the earth and the more we work together, the bigger difference we can make.