Retailers Find Balancing Profit and Planet is Good for Business

If you think about it, a lot of people who are interested in wellness as a lifestyle are also passionate about sustainability. The healthiest nutritional practice usually involves taking nourishment from the healthiest food grown in or raised on the healthiest soil. You might even say that sustainability is wellness for the planet.

We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how well the natural products industry is positioned to connect the dots for consumers who want to support businesses that actively demonstrate a passion for both of these lifestyles.

We ran this question by two retailers we’ve come to know well, and it seems we’re aligned.

“Educating people about the relationship between human and environmental health is a great way to do the right thing and build brand equity with your customers,” said Tyler Jeal, co-owner of Vancouver Island-based Health Essentials in Canada.“It’s a beautiful story in which we all get to vote with our dollar to support a greater cause.”

So how do they do it?

“A community of health conscious consumers”

Tyler explained that when he and co-owner Lynn Vu were establishing Health Essentials five years ago, they sat down and decided they wanted to be “more than a business.” They wanted to be a resource. “Our mission was to create a community of health conscious consumers who wanted to engage with knowledgeable staff who could actually help them make sense of the products available,” Tyler says.

To accomplish this, they staked their brand’s reputation on meticulously researching all products they offer using a variety of methods that include podcasts, published studies on PubMed and other online sources, as well as deep conversations with suppliers.

And they make sustainable practice a key part of their “filter.”

“We look at actual ingredients, sourcing, active versus passive compounds, and no industrial oils,” says Tyler, who was raised as a vegetarian but says he has “embraced ancestral health” and now offers a wide selection of organic, wild and 100% grass finished meats.

Health Essentials sources its meat from farms that raise their animals in the best conditions with the environment in mind. That means carrying beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and even ostrich and yak that are hormone and antibiotic free. It also means working with local farms that practice rotational grazing, are SPCA certified, and provide nose-to-tail products.

“We want to support more zoo-farm settings where both the health of animals and land are nurtured,” sums up Tyler.

“Everything good, wholesome and real”

Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins opened the first of its 12 stores in 1971 in southern California. Their mission, which is “to nourish family and community by providing everything good, wholesome and real that we love about a healthy and organic lifestyle,” pretty much says it all.

Like Health Essentials, Lassens has forged lasting relationships going back years with farmers who respectfully raise beef, veal, lamb, pork and poultry. As much as possible, Lassens works with local suppliers, “many of whom are also customers,” says Andrew Aberth, a Lassens regional manager. Andrew says customers “appreciate knowing that their beef comes to market with fewer miles and lower impact on the environment.”

They also appreciate knowing when one of Lassens’ suppliers, such as Snake River Farms, actively contribute to organizations that assist children and fight hunger and document their record of donating their own products to families in need.

Says Andrew, “Our customers have pretty high standards when it comes to corporate responsibility. All things being equal, they would rather support brands they know are about more than just profits.”

And that’s really the whole point.

Educating customers about the social and environmental history behind a brand can be just as important to some customers as what’s inside the bottle.

Tyler says his staff makes it their business to know the stories behind the brands. And, quite frankly, it’s paying off. “One of the comments we love to get is, ‘You’ve done our research for us! I feel like I can grab things off the shelf knowing that I’m getting the best of the best.’”

What does your business do, large or small, to support wellness for people and planet? We’d love to hear from you – send us a note!

#sustainability #buildingcommunity

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