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Green Scene

Green Foods, Green Company

Author: Zach Adelman
July, 2011 Issue


I started Navitas Naturals in 2003 with the mission of sourcing the most nutrient-dense organic foods from around the world and importing them for health-minded people in North America to enjoy. The goal from the beginning was to be a green business that was also socially responsible with regard to the farmers it partners with around the globe. My team and I have made steady progress over the past eight years to advance that mission. We’ve found that being green and staying green is a serious commitment and a long-term process.

Although the majority of superfoods offered by Navitas Naturals have always been organic or wildcrafted, a major milestone was reached in 2009 when all of our products achieved USDA organic certification. It took a while to work out all the details of our international supply chain and ensure that everything could and would be certified organic. It can take farmers in other parts of the world some time to make the transition and get all the paperwork done, so we needed to be persistent and effectively communicate the importance of farming organically throughout the supply chain. In most cases, superfoods grown in the primitive regions we source from are, in essence, grown organically (with no chemical input whatsoever), but they needed to meet all of the paperwork and auditing aspects of the USDA organic regulations to become certified.

Organic certification is very important from a sustainable agriculture standpoint, and it’s at the core of everything we do. It’s also important for safeguarding the health of the farmers and other workers who source our superfoods, many of whom are in developing countries where they aren’t as protected from chemical-based farming and processing alternatives as we are in the United States. Our processing facility achieved USDA organic certification in 2004, which means we use only eco-friendly cleaning products and other green materials in our operations and have the records to prove it.

Our most recent green achievement is our new, expanded workspace on Pamaron Way in Novato. Our company president and production team leader and I established a process to identify and evaluate various green options available during our expansion from a 9,000- to a 13,500-square-foot operation. Our recent expansion and renovation needs presented an ideal opportunity to add more eco-friendly elements to our operations.

Navitas is the Latin word for energy and, ever since our founding, this “power” concept has been represented by the nutrient-dense organic superfoods we supply. Now, our new workspace demonstrates yet another meaning of navitas. There are many green energy features of our new office space, such as energy efficient HVAC heating and cooling systems, natural lighting with solar shade blinds, and energy-efficient lighting and fixtures. In addition to the green energy attributes, other eco-friendly design features include low-flush toilets, non-VOC paints and low VOC carpets.

Keeping with the theme of steady, incremental green steps, we recently turned more attention to our packaging. Our new, resealable packaging is more eco-friendly. It’s made from number 4 recycled plastic, and is designed to be recycled in most urban recycling programs—or you can rinse and reuse them. Our team’s objective is to push things even further the next time we update our packaging. Unfortunately, after observing what happened when Lays switched its Sun Chips bag to an eco-friendly packaging alternative that was excessively noisy (causing a backlash and sharp drop in sales), we and other manufacturers are taking a cautious and careful approach to packaging changes. We’re currently researching other green alternatives such as biodegradable and compostable packaging materials.

Another big change we made recently was to stop printing our product catalog. We now offer it only on our website, where people can still get all of the information they need. Sometimes this is an inconvenience for us and our customers, but with the rapid advancement of technology it’s easy for people to access the catalog file and view it on their computer or mobile device. It saves paper and ink and will cut down on environmental and financial costs associated with shipping. Our new Mercedes Sprint diesel van is another green tool. It’s very fuel efficient, and we can modify it to run on biodiesel in the future.

Navitas Naturals implements many other sustainable business practices in its day-to-day operations. For example: all promotional materials are printed on recycled or tree-free paper with vegetable-based inks; all paper, glass and plastics generated by operations are recycled; and it supports environmentally friendly companies by procuring and giving organic products as promotional gifts and marketing items.

Our green and socially responsible mission goes beyond our Marin County home—it’s a global one. An essential part of our mission is to create healthy economic opportunities among indigenous people in developing countries. Our support of native agriculture helps to expand the development of global organic farming practices and economic development among indigenous people by increasing demand for the health-enhancing foods they produce.

Zach Adelman is founder and CEO of Navitas Naturals
(888-645-4282). You can reach him at zach@navitasnaturals.com.


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