Consumers have started opening their eyes to the damaging impact of the unsustainable business practices fueling climate change. Already seen in the present, this looks like rampant plastic pollution, disappearing species and ecosystems, rising temperatures and an increasing number of destructive, unpredictable weather events.
In terms of agriculture fueling food, drink and consumer goods, the Rainforest Alliance has been working to reverse some of the practices contributing to climate change and a decline in global biodiversity. At the same time, Rainforest Alliance-certified products show that production for a food, ingredient, or other consumer good meets strict environmental and sustainability standards, benefits surrounding communities and won't negatively impact the world's ecosystems.
What is Rainforest Alliance-Certified?
The Rainforest Alliance seal indicates a product or ingredient supports the organization's mission of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Before certification is issued, a third-party assessment of a farm or facility is performed, analyzing practices against the Sustainable Agriculture Standard or the Chain of Custody Standard.
Certification also isn't a one-time deal, and instead, the Rainforest Alliance works with all partnering farms and businesses to continuously upgrade their practices to support the environment and the surrounding community and ecosystem. Their 2020 Certification Program is a recent example of this.
Rainforest Alliance certification programs focus on:
- Maintaining and protecting existing forests - for example, promoting agroforestry practices that balance crops with existing trees and shrubs, and upholding the health of the soil, trees and waterways.
- Managing carbon output and storage and decreasing deforestation - a practice that increases greenhouse gases.
- The rights of all workers - including safe working conditions, sufficient labor protections, adequate wages, access to personal protective gear and ensuring that child labor didn't go into making a product or growing crops.
- The relationship between healthy, profitable communities and ecosystems.
- Improved transparency along the supply chain, from the time an ingredient is grown to when it's available for a consumer to purchase.
Currently, over 30,000 food, beverage and forestry products display the Rainforest Alliance seal, including Buddy State tea concentrate. About two million farmers across the globe benefit from their partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.
The Importance of the Rainforest Alliance Seal
For consumers looking to make more sustainable purchases, the Rainforest Alliance-certified seal signifies the following:
An Eco-Conscious Mission
Greenwashing tactics are everywhere, and too often, consumers fall into the trap of labels promising a more sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative. At the same time, many acknowledge, to some degree, the complexity of modern supply chains and their role in supporting sustainable business practices.
Consumers educating themselves about authentic signifiers of sustainability - as opposed to empty marketing speak - associate the Rainforest Alliance seal with a more transparent supply chain, including a defined and more sustainable product source.
Sign of a More Sustainable Supply Chain
The typical consumer often doesn't realize the number of entities a product or ingredient passes through between its origins and a retailer. Rainforest Alliance certification provides a greater degree of transparency regarding:
- Worker safety: Farms get trained on child labor laws and practices concerning gender equality and discrimination and are required to respect the rights of indigenous people in their respective region. Workers, in turn, get to live and earn a livelihood in safe conditions and receive a wage commensurate with their trade and effort. Specifically, farms provide workers with clean, safe housing, drinking water, sanitation, healthcare and provide personal protective equipment to limit chemical exposure. Additionally, farms employ no one under the age of 15 and require all workers to be paid the local legal minimum wage and overtime.
- Sustainability: Farms following Rainforest Alliance practices help conserve natural resources, protect surrounding wildlife and their habitats, use lower amounts of artificial fertilizers and pesticides and are trained on pollution control and waste management. Contributing to this, the Rainforest Alliance encourages climate-supporting farming methods that leave a minimal impact on the landscape.
At the same time, Rainforest Alliance certification doesn't just acknowledge the source of an ingredient or product. Rather, certification applies to all partnering entities on the supply chain, including traders, manufacturers and retailers.
Meeting the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals
In more recent years, the Rainforest Alliance has angled its efforts to help farmers meet the UN's sustainable development goals to lessen factors contributing to climate change. Toward this objective, the Rainforest Alliance's 2020 Certification Program issued requirements for protecting freshwater systems via vegetation and preserving natural ecosystems to control carbon emissions.
As a Buddy to the Planet, Buddy State aims to be part of the broader solution to preserve our world. Our liquid tea concentrate is formulated with Rainforest Alliance-certified tea, and this effect carries through the supply chain, resulting in 65 times less plastic used and 36 times less carbon emissions compared to traditional bottled beverages. We further encourage our customers to reduce the amount of bottled beverages they use for hydration, to turn to reusable water bottles instead and to lessen the amount of waste needing to be recycled.