Guayaki Yerba Mate
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Changing our habits and turning ourselves onto sustainable systems that work for the planet takes work. It sounds wonderful when we read about it, but what are we doing, in our space now, to really affect change by spreading the message to those around us?

The crew at Teens Turning Green have been activating students on college campuses for years. They’ve just wrapped up their 2014 Conscious College U.S. tour, which began in March and covered campuses throughout the South and Midwest — from Houston all the way up to Ithaca.

They’ve shared alternatives in the form of sustainable, organic, fair trade foods and products, and followed up their demonstrations — which include lots of mate sharing — with a town hall meeting of student leaders engaged with the process of green change.

Many are already in tune with TTG’s mission to boost food and product consciousness. Others have quickly followed suit.

“In Kentucky, a student came up to me, and he would pick up products and go, ‘Tell me why this is sustainable,'” says Erin Schrode of TTG. “I think it’s more of a hearsay thing for a lot of students.”

Sustaining momentum for this movement can be a challenge — especially in parts of the U.S. where it isn’t mainstream to think so heavily about the production chain of your supermarket food.

Many of these products aren’t as easily accessible. But Schrode has seen really positive change over the last several years, thanks in part to the emergence of Whole Foods.

Sust Food

“Even if these kids aren’t the Whole Foods market shopping type, they all know where it is, and they know where to find it,” she says. “It gives them sort of a follow-up place to go.”

Being an active presence on campuses and encouraging students to create and continue the conversation about sustainability in their communities is an important step towards creating actual change.

“[It's been] that thing they’ve heard about, but it’s never been real,” Schrode says.

Follow TTG’s Conscious College blog and follow them on Twitter.

CCRT at Rice

don-miguel-bcorpMore companies are becoming aware of the fundamental need to do business in a way that resonates with our greatest good. There are now over 1,000 certified Benefit Corporations worldwide, all finding their own way to meet “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

There isn’t one type of B Corp. We’re part of a diverse community of companies operating in different markets, each finding their own way to honor their deeper beneficial purpose. And each of us will do B Corp a little bit differently.

Part of our way of walking a sustainable path is by maintaining our grassroots approach. Guayaki began with a small team seeding yerba mate across the U.S., and we’re still a small team — although with our mission, we do big work. The way we think of Guayaki, those sharing our mate and participating in our business do the work with us.

We also don’t buy advertising — which can be challenging for a company in the North American drink market, where big-budget marketing is the standard. Our resources are budgeted so that most of our money goes to our rainforest reservations — and by our latest count, we’ve saved 29,600 rainforest acres in 2013, which is $29.5 million trees and $23.6 million in ecosystem services. If that money went to advertising, we wouldn’t get our work done.

Slow movement and lack of flash may seem counter-intuitive in our industry, but walking the slow road has helped us accomplish some beautiful work protecting and restoring the rainforest. And we can use the extra time to breathe and enjoy our steps amidst the trees.

GMO protest in Honolulu

As a company with quality, sustainability and food justice sewn into our DNA, we feel the pull to join advocates for the right of all people to cultivate and enjoy their own food. We brought our vision to a gathering at the state capital in Hawaii to help protest GMOs, attend events and listen to the words of Dr. Vandana Shiva, a dear environmental activist, author, and powerful speaker.

Guayakians David Karr, Alex Pryor, and Patrick Lee traveled to greet the crowds at the capital building for three days of talks by Dr. Shiva. Beyond the joy of hearing great words by Shiva, the team came loaded, sharing about 500 cans and bottles of our organic, non-GMO yerba mate to a crowd hungry for quality non-GMO food and drink. Beautiful energy to add to the voices of the day.

For those who were unable to attend, it’s worth reading the transcript of Dr. Shiva’s speech at the capital. The moving way she weaves her words presents a powerful message for the way we produce our food worldwide, and the natural right we have as members of Earth to plant and harvest seeds to nourish ourselves and our global community. A big takeaway point: We are an interconnected species.

Alex Pryor and Dr. Vandana Shiva enjoy wonderful energy and a gourd of non-GMO yerba mate together.

Alex Pryor and Dr. Vandana Shiva enjoy wonderful energy and a gourd of non-GMO yerba mate together.