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  • Writer's pictureThe Natural Life Shop

Ethics, Sustainability, Biodynamics & Our Amazing Brands

Without meaning to blow our own trumpet, we pride ourselves on stocking some awesome brands with some truly amazing practices and products and we would love to introduce them to you (even if you're already familiar, we'll bet you don't know their whole stories!).


Weleda


With great courage and commitment, the founders of Weleda dared to break new ground 100 years ago. They knew of the deep connection between people and nature. Since 1921, they have been developing certified natural cosmetics and Anthroposophic medicine based on this understanding and Weleda has been a pioneer of sustainability right from the start. As much as they take, they try to give back. From their biodynamic medicinal plant gardens to their sustainable and respectful supply chains, and the responsible use of their resources - they are striving to make the world a better place. Sustainability and their respect for people and nature are part of their roots and future.


A hundred years ago they became the world's first natural cosmetics company, pioneering organic farming methods and cultivation, and setting standards for ethical business practices. Today they are the world's No. 1 producer of certified natural skincare and healthcare products, inspiring an industry and supplying fifty countries across five continents. And, according to Cosmetify*, they are one of the three most searched for sustainable beauty brands globally.


Weleda are certified by NATRUE. NATRUE was created by the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association to certify natural cosmetic products. NATRUE’s expressed goal is “to protect and promote natural cosmetics to the benefit of consumers worldwide.”


They are also a certified B Corp which is a pretty awesome achievement!


*www.beauty-magazine.co.uk: Cosmetify: No 1 The Body Shop, No 2 Yves Rocher, No 3 Weleda


Urtekram


Founded in Denmark in 1972 when organic products and sustainability practices were still on the fringes of public perception, Urtekram were the idealistic pioneers of Copenhagen. They started out with a teeny spice shop focused on natural, simple products and a clean, non-impactful lifestyle. They grew and developed the company until in 2017 they were named Denmark's most sustainable brand.


Today their products are available throughout Europe and the UK as well as some parts of the wider world. They have stuck to their founding ideals of organic, sustainable products available to all and they apply that to every aspect of their business.


Everything from the ingredients (99-100% natural origin and self-preserving), their finished products (100% biodegradable, vegan, Ecocert Cosmos Organic certified), packaging (plant-based, made from sugar cane waste with no impact on food production, causes something called 'the reverse greenhouse effect'), to their production plant and energy use (they recycle as much of their waste and by-products as possible and use a local biogas plant to convert the remainder to renewable energy). In cases where something goes astray with the packaging (incorrect labels, slight damage, etc.) and the products cannot be sold, they donate the goods to aid organizations in Denmark.


So to recap, Urtekram are/have/do:


  • Certified by Ecocert Cosmos Organic

  • Certified by Vegan Society

  • 99-100 % Natural origin ingredients which are self-renewing

  • No artificial perfumes (only herbal decoctions, and natural oils)

  • 100% Biodegradable formulas (which means that nature itself can decompose the ingredients without harming the microorganisms in the process)

  • Plant-based packaging (which creates a reverse greenhouse effect)

  • Create renewable energy in production


For even more information on how Urtekram is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint, be as sustainable as possible, and constantly reduce their impact on our planet click here.


Viridian

We have loved Viridian for so many years it's hard to quantify just how much we love them!


The company was started in 1999 by Cheryl Thallon. Previously a Solgar employee, Cheryl left when they were sold to a large pharmaceutical corp and set up Viridian Nutrition, basing the company on the fundamental principles of purity, environment and charity.


To give you a small taste of them, this is their mission statement:


"Our mission at Viridian Nutrition is to bring health and wellbeing to everything we touch. From the fields where much of our ingredients are grown through to the recycling bank where the glass bottles are collected, we wish to follow the ethical principle of 'care for others as we care for ourselves'.

At the heart of Viridian Nutrition is a philosophy that cares for the natural products movement supporting organic growing, the essential nature of health and whole food stores, the respectful preservation of ancient health traditions and the sensitive introduction of innovative complementary health foods, supplements and concepts.”


They are the first vitamin company to be certified Palm Oil Free, they have more than 80 products certified organic by the Soil Association and all the fresh organic tinctures and ointments are grown and traditionally made in the UK, as well as their capsules and organic nutritional oils being produced here too, creating local jobs and reducing the environmental impact of transporting ingredients around the world.


They use minimum packaging for our products, all made from recycled or recyclable materials, from the glass bottles to the recycled cardboard shipping boxes. They take responsibility for their packaging, too, offering a 25p refund for bottles returned to the health store where you purchased.


Viridian are passionate about:

• 100% active ingredients

• No nasty additives - products requiring a 'base' are added to their universal base of alfalfa, bilberry and spirulina

• UK manufacture

• Green business practices

• Supporting the community

• Organics

• Non-GM

• Non-irradiated


Which is pretty much what we're passionate about too!


They also keep their money where their mouth is when it comes to the 'care for others' part of their mission statement. So far, the Viridian Nutrition Charity Donation programme has donated £550,000+ to charities including Friends of the Earth, NSPCC, Woodland Trust, UNICEF, The Princes Trust, Comic Relief, RSPB, Terrence Higgins Trust, Shelter, Save the Children and more.


Infinity Foods

We've stocked Infinity since before Angie and Sally took over 26 years ago. They are very literally part of the fabric of our shop! For anyone unfamiliar with Infinity, they are a food cooperative based in Brighton with the mecca of health food shops in the Laines.


To give you a bit of their history; back in 1970, two friends – Ian Loeffler and Peter Deadman – opened a macrobiotic café at the University of Sussex called “Biting Through” which led to a demand for the ingredients they were using in their cooking. The following year, Peter, along with Jenny Deadman & Robin Bines opened a small shop called Infinity Foods in a converted terraced house in Church Street. Here they sold basic vegetarian whole foods and freshly baked products.


Infinity Foods has in turn grown and evolved. What began as a small shop in 1971 is today a thriving large store, brimming with an extensive range of vegetarian products – from cupboard essentials to freshly baked bread and seasonal fruit and vegetables.


In 1985, as a result of the increasing demand for bulk wholefood orders a group of members set up a separate wholesale branch of the business. Run initially from a site in Saltdean, then Portslade, with the eventual move to a warehouse in Shoreham-by-sea where it remains to this day.


Infinity Foods has been a workers' co-operative since 1979. Simply defined, a workers co-operative is a business run by its workers for its workers. It is jointly owned and democratically run by its members. There are no outside shareholders or owners to satisfy.


This creates a more motivated and unified workforce where everyone feels involved in the successful running of the business. Each member has a vote and can give input via regular member meetings.


Ideas of equality and fairness are fundamental to the co-operative. Infinity gauge the success of the business not only in terms of profit but also through environmental and social responsibility and involvement in their local community.


They have a wonderful core of beliefs (which we wholeheartedly share!). The main ones which resonate with us, and many of our customers, are:

  • We believe that it is our responsibility to provide food that is as far as possible, natural and unadulterated, free from GM and hydrogenated fat, organic accredited and sourced from companies with high ethical standards.

  • As well as trading and building relations with producers and suppliers in developing countries, we are equally as committed to sourcing as much as possible locally. We aim for a fair and just business practice with all of our trading partners, suppliers and producers and in turn, our customers.

  • We also recycle our own-generated glass, cans, plastic, 'Tetra-Pak and cardboard waste. The boxes used to pack Infinity Foods own brand products are, wherever possible, collected from our customers and used time and time again.

  • We also donate unsaleable goods (short-dated goods and goods with excessively damaged packaging etc.) to projects such as the Real Junk Food Project. Where possible food that is no longer suitable for human consumption is donated to animal sanctuaries for feed or goes to create biofuel.


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