2022 Social and Environmental Responsibility Report
Dear Banyan Botanicals Community,
I am happy to report that we survived the very challenging year that was 2022. It was another year adapting to the stresses of COVID as well as to the resulting global supply challenges that resulted from it. Inflation reared its head in a way not seen in decades and prices for nearly everything increased.
Never in our history as a company have we had so many obstacles to contend with in keeping our products in stock. At times, up to 40% of our offerings were not available to our customers. This was distressing to the team, frustrating for our customers, and taxing on our finances.
2022 was also a time that the team united to rise to these challenges. We supported each other and we made changes to make us stronger and more resilient in the future.
This report is our annual accounting to our employees, customers, suppliers, and communities on how we did in relationship to our social and environmental commitments.
On the social front, some of the highlights include training for our Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) team, identifying and making JEDI commitments, and creating an action plan to fulfill them. We raised employee compensation by a record amount to honor their work and to help with inflation. We continued our support of local indigenous communities and made cash and in-kind product donations to more than 60 charitable projects.
On the environmental side, we continued our research and sourcing ahead of our transition to more eco-friendly packaging, we clarified our commitments to biodiversity, and began a new partnership to increase the quantity and diversity of pollinators on Banyan Farm.
In the following report, you will find many more details on positive steps taken, the milestones reached, and new commitments made, as well as areas where we fell short of our goals.
I remain forever grateful and proud of our Banyan employees. I am moved and inspired by their commitment to following their hearts, their hard work in service to others, and the spirit of unity they embody as a team.
Together we have navigated a storm and will continue forward, working each day to fulfill our mission of helping others to achieve health and well-being through the wisdom of Ayurveda.
Yours in Health,
Cofounder & CEO
Since our inception in 1996, we've been on a mission to be a healing force in the world by empowering the optimal well-being of individuals, communities, and the environment.
Inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, we firmly believe in the interconnected nature of people and planet. This understanding is at the heart of all we do, driving us to create the highest quality products while considering the welfare of everyone involved, from consumers to employees to farmers to the Earth.
Our mission is put to practice through our three pillars—a commitment to organic, sustainably sourced, and fair trade-certified herbs and products. Our B Corporation® and Fair for Life certifications further ensure that we meet the most rigorous standards within the herbal industry.
Fair for Life is a globally recognized certification program for fair trade and responsible supply chain practices. We are proud to be a Fair for Life certified Brand Holder since 2019. Certification typically takes years and requires the participation of the entire team and supply chain.
We continue to hold our Certified B Corporation® status. B Corporations are leaders of the global movement of people using business as a force for good.™
In 2022, we began our standard recertification process—a process that takes many months and involves the whole company. This assessment will be wrapped up in 2023.
FairWild is a Fair Trade certification that is focused on sustainable harvesting of wild plants and protecting those who collect and trade them, ensuring they have fair working conditions.
In 2022, we created a five year Fair Wild Action Plan as part of our commitment to sourcing more FairWild certified ingredients and outlining the projects that we are working towards certifying.
We maintained our FairWild certification for Triphala tablets and added FairWild elderberry for our Elderberry Honey.
Certified since 2003, Banyan was the one of the first Ayurvedic supplements companies to provide organic herbs in the US.
This certification ensures our herbs and products are produced without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetic engineering (GMOs), or ionizing radiation.
We maintained our Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly certification on our entire line of products sold on Amazon. This helps customers discover and shop for more sustainable products.
Fostering well-being and unity within our local and global communities is inherent in our mission. Recognizing the historical and contemporary injustices that hinder equitable access to health, we are determined to make a meaningful contribution towards greater equality.
In 2022, we completed the JEDI Collaborative’s Trailblazer Program (JEDI stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), a 9-month cohort program for businesses in the natural products industry. The program helps us strengthen our foundation and create holistic, actionable changes that will make us better leaders in this work.
As part of the JEDI Trailblazer program, we built out a robust 1–5 year JEDI action plan with eight core commitments and action steps aligned with our mission. This work helps us better understand how we can uplift our team, our customers, and our community.
You will see diversity, equity, and inclusion highlights throughout this report.
“Ayurveda shines a light on living intentionally and in doing so, we create more space for participating in various forms that deepen awareness and understanding of well-being for all. This includes the commitments needed to achieve initiatives rooted in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. I'm grateful for the chance to not only participate but create opportunities for others as well.”— Angel, JEDI Trailblazer team member and Executive Assistant to Kevin Casey, CEO
Our team is the heart and soul of our company. We nurture a culture of respect, belonging, and kindness while encouraging a healthy dose of play. We strive to ensure a safe, uplifting, and inclusive environment where all individuals can step into their full potential while living balanced and fulfilling lives.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on our Team
We hosted four Banyan Connection Sessions, a quarterly online gathering that offers a chance for all team members to get to know each other, have fun, and foster connection and inclusion across physical locations and teams.
We continue to translate company-wide emails into Spanish and offer a Spanish translator for company-wide meetings, including our Banyan Connection Sessions.
We continue to offer the option of sharing personal pronouns in our email signatures. This practice normalizes sharing pronouns, indicates that we respect all gender identities, and helps create a more inclusive workplace for those who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming.
Social and Environmental Responsibility on Our Team
Our Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) Council met regularly to talk about opportunities to improve our business practices around relevant issues such as sustainable packaging, living wages, third-party certifications, cultural appropriation, and much more.
“Social and environmental responsibility is love in action... completely aligned with Ayurvedic principles.”
Maintaining and Improving Benefits
- We offered all employees a record pay increase to honor their hard work and help meet inflation demands.
- We started a sick-pay donation program which allows employees to donate extra sick days to a fellow employee in need.
- We implemented a hardship loan program, providing an opportunity for employees to receive financial assistance in times of need.
- We continued to offer profit sharing, as we have for close to two decades. Each quarter we pool 5% of our net profits and distribute them evenly among eligible employees.
- We continued to offer a generous benefits package for all eligible employees, including:
- We adjusted our “sick pay” language to “personal health days” to encourage employees to take mental health days.
- We continue to explore and experiment with flexible work options with the aim of supporting a balanced and healthy work life.
- We continued to offer a summer Farm Days program to our Oregon employees, where they can spend a day at Banyan Farm enjoying morning yoga, plant talks, harvesting, and connecting with nature and teammates.
Our customers are at the heart of why we do what we do. We are honored to get to serve such a vibrant, conscientious, and health-focused community of human beings.
Serving Our Customers
We served a total of 375,915 customers. This was 7% less than 2021.
Our Customer Care team gifted 631 “goodwill gifts” of either discounts or free products to customers in need.
The effects of COVID continued to impact our entire supply chain, including our farm partners in India, our bottling suppliers, organic certifiers, and our warehouse employees. This led to out-of-stock issues for our customers.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Our Customers
We developed an ethical marketing policy and training to ensure our marketing practices are ethical and transparent. By implementing these policies, we strive to avoid any amount of green or fair washing in our communications with customers.
With Fair Trade as one of our foundational pillars, we are dedicated to nurturing relationships that promote the social and economic welfare of our suppliers, producers, and small farmers. Through respectful and enduring partnerships, the cycle of benefits flows seamlessly from the fields to our customers and back to the farmers in return.
- Six of our products were certified Fair for Life Fair Trade, including Ashwagandha tablets, Haritaki tablets, Neem tablets, Shatavari tablets, and Guduchi powder. This list will continue to grow as we certify more of our ingredients and products.
- Our International Sourcing team traveled to Nepal and India to explore new partnerships and deepen existing partnerships with valued suppliers.
- In Nepal, the team explored a new potential opportunity to support a sustainable kutki and jatamansi project in the Himalayan mountains.
- In India, they explored the expansion of our FairWild ingredients and visited multiple existing Fair Trade partners.
- Also in India, they visited the sites where ingredients for our Chyavanprash and dashamula are grown. They also visited our primary Fair Trade Partner in Rajasthan, India, to deepen the partnership into the future.
HERBS RECEIVED IN 2022
- Over the course of the year, we received over 45,000 pounds of Fair for Life certified herbs.
- We continually strive to bring in more certified fair trade herbs as they become available to us, either through Fair for Life or FairWild certifications. This includes working directly with producers and encouraging them to certify whenever possible.
Through the Fair for Life Development Fund, we supported free medical services to communities without access to basic healthcare, including free medicine, medical advice, and preventative doctor’s visits.
We also provided funds to a small farm community to purchase thermoses. Farmers chose thermoses to keep their drinks hot while working in the field or for use at home.
Ayurveda reminds us that we are not separate, empowering us to extend our own well-being beyond our personal boundaries and out into our communities. We are proud to support non-profit organizations and projects that align with our mission and values through charitable giving, in-kind donations, and by fostering employee giving and volunteerism.
In 2022, supply chain challenges impacted our inventory and profitability, prompting a temporary pause in some philanthropic projects. This allowed us to maintain fiscal responsibility and sustain our commitment to serving customers with integrity.
- In order to remain fiscally responsible, we chose to pause our Community Grant Fund program and allocate these funds to other needed areas. We used this time to brainstorm how to make our program better in 2023.
- We announced a multi-year research partnership with Bee Girl Organization, a non-profit centered on bee habitat conservation through research, regeneration, and education.
- We continued to match employee donations to U.S. nonprofits, up to $100 per employee per calendar year.
PROJECTS IN 2022
- We donated cash and $38,737 of in-kind product donations to more than 60 charitable projects, including The Breasties, Grief to Action, Yoga Gives Back, Sprouts Chef Training, Thrive Cancer Foundation, The Ayurvedic Institute, American Botanical Council, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, Stone Cabin Clinic, Learn Grow Lead, Camp Okizu, Charity Water, Sea Shepherd, 2020 Mom, The Climate Collaborative, and many others.
We are honored to engage in mutually-beneficial relationships with industry organizations. These collaborations help to amplify the impact of our collective work.
We are members of the natural product industry’s One Step Closer (OSC) JEDI Collaborative, Climate Collaborative, and Packaging Collaborative. We participate in their educational programs and support their work with public commitments and financial support.
Members of our team serve on the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Committee, and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Sustainability Committee and DE&I Committees.
We sponsored the 18th annual NAMA conference, supporting their goal to advance Ayurveda in the U.S. We have been a sponsor of every NAMA conference since they started in 2003.
“The LAI teachers and staff are masters of their craft and truly embody what it means to live Ayurvedically. I left this internship with my glass completely full. Filled with knowledge, inspiration, and a desire to remain a student and show up in the world as my best self. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for this opportunity.”— Allison Gonzalez, 2022 LAI Session 1 Intern
We continued our Living Ayurveda Internship (LAI) program at Banyan Farm in Williams, Oregon. A total of 16 interns participated across the spring and fall sessions. They learned about Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic astrology, Western herbs, bioregional Ayurveda, plant identification, farming, cultural appropriation, and Indigenous histories of Southern Oregon.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Community
We are committed to deepening our efforts to support North American Indigenous communities and to honoring Indigenous history.
We continued to support the Indigenous Gardens Network in Oregon. Their mission is to provide accessibility to land and “first foods” for tribal communities.
We donated products and $3,000 in funding to Dragonfly’s Garden, a project of the Native American Studies (NAS) Program within Southern Oregon University’s community garden. Using the dynamic polyculture system at the farm, they harvested over 200 ears of sweet corn and 200 squash, which was shared with the NAS program, Native students, and local Native community members.
“Dragonfly's Garden is dedicated to growing student knowledge of Indigenous first foods and companion planting. Students have learned that the system improves pollination, controls pests, provides a habitat for beneficial insects, and improves harvests.”— Brook Colley, Chair and Associate Professor of Native American Studies, Southern Oregon University
One of our core values is to honor and protect the sanctity of nature, a commitment that extends throughout every facet of our business. While acknowledging that we are not perfect and there is always room to improve, we remain dedicated to a long-term, ongoing effort to cultivate ever-greater harmony with the natural world that supports and sustains us.
This guiding principle led us to create an official Commitment to the Environment that clearly outlines our environmentally responsible principles, practices, and goals, many of which are covered in this section.
Our three pillars ensure that our herbs are certified organic, sustainably sourced, and fairly traded.
In 2022, we continued to source several herbs from our longtime suppliers in India while also growing our domestic sourcing partnerships, working to reduce our carbon footprint and support the small, regional farms of our local communities.
As advocates of bioregional Ayurveda, we believe that all plants can be viewed as Ayurvedic no matter where they grow. By expanding our focus to include the rich and diverse pharmacopeia of plants growing in our local ecosystems as well as the traditional Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, we are working to cultivate an even more reciprocal and sustainable relationship with our herbal resources.
Herbs and Botanicals
We provided a market for 115,000 pounds of certified organic herbs grown in India on land that might otherwise have been used for non-organic agriculture.
We continued to source over 99.5% of our herbs as certified organic. The exceptions are talisa and asafoetida, which cannot be sourced organically at this time.
Organic and Regenerative Farming
Our partners at Banyan Farm successfully grew USDA certified organic herbs, including ashwagandha, bhringaraj, tulsi, skullcap, hemp, and marshmallow root. In total, the farm grew close to 44,000 pounds (close to the weight of a humpback whale) of fresh plant material, which dried down to just under 6,000 pounds. Many of these herbs will be used in our products.
Banyan Farm, in collaboration with Banyan’s research team, continued to implement regenerative agriculture practices that were started in 2021. By moving towards more regenerative practices, we seek to support a healthy and biodiverse local ecosystem, improve soil fertility for growing healthy and nutrient-rich herbs, and sequester carbon in the soil for a win-win, love-love, nature-positive climate action. Learn more about how Banyan Farm is practicing regenerative agriculture.
One of our long-time farm partners located in our local farming community of Southern Oregon, Pacific Botanicals, achieved Regenerative Organic Certification, and is at the forefront of regenerative agriculture for herb farming in the US.
Banyan signed on to the American Sustainable Business Council’s letter to ask congress to allocate dollars and promote regenerative agriculture priorities with the Farm Bill.
To us, sustainable sourcing means taking an active role in relationship to our supply chain, each ingredient we work with, and the many important choices that go into creating a product.
We committed to the WE USE WILD pledge for good sourcing practices, created by NGO TRAFFIC, which is a leading non-governmental organization working to ensure that wildlife trade is not a threat to the conservation of nature. The pledge requires us to take measurable actions to address the biological and social risks related to ingredients that are wild harvested in our supply chain
We continued to search for reliable and sustainable sources of endangered herbs, including kutki, jatamansi, red sandalwood, and sandalwood. Until we can find reliable sustainable sources, we will continue to refrain from offering these herbs.
We continued to work with farmers who use responsible harvesting methods to keep plants alive and healthy.
As an Ayurvedic products company, nature is our north star and we are committed to living in harmony with the natural world around us.
We are aware that chemicals, pollution, land misuse, overharvesting, and the climate emergency directly contribute to the decline of biodiversity on the planet and impact the health of medicinal plants around the globe. Therefore, maintaining healthy plant diversity is crucial to ensuring the overall health of the planet, as well as the future of human health.
In response, we are committed to protecting and rebuilding biodiversity, specifically in relation to healthy soil systems and local pollinator populations—both vital to healthy, thriving plants.
Organic Products Protect Biodiversity
Banyan only sources certified organic materials which optimize the health of soil, plants, animals, and people. The certified organic label promotes biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil enrichment.
We use the USDA Biodiversity Guidance standard, which purposefully benefits biodiversity and requires all organic farms to follow a specific set of these biodiversity-friendly practices.
We do not use threatened plant species in our business, and we strive to protect and conserve them in their natural habitats.
We adhere to a Supplier/Vendor Code of Conduct that includes protecting biodiversity and forests.
We conduct periodic regular compliance reviews and audits that include:
Screening our suppliers for good biodiversity practices and updates on biodiversity projects.
Requiring our suppliers to sign our Code of Conduct every three years.
Using the WildCheck Platform as a resource to track the origins of our wild plant ingredients and uncover the opportunities and risks associated with their harvest.
Pollinator Project with Bee Girl Organization
In 2022, we entered into a partnership with The Bee Girl Organization (BGO), sponsoring a multi-year project with BGO and Banyan Farm in Williams, Oregon.
BGO is a grassroots nonprofit centered on bee habitat conservation through research, regeneration, and education. Their mission is to educate and inspire communities to conserve bees, flowers, and our countryside.
BGO will work to identify and catalog current bee diversity and advise us on ways Banyan Farm can improve local pollinator diversity. Suggestions include utilizing native herbs, vegetables, flowers, and crop pasture mix that provide nutrient-rich pollen for bees—all actions coming with the added value of improving soil, restoring water cycles, and sequestering carbon to fight climate change.
Each year, we get better at measuring our consumption of natural resources and setting goals to reduce our overall consumption and waste. As an herbal products manufacturing business rooted in sustainable agriculture, we also understand and seek to validate the positive impact that our sustainable sourcing and regenerative farming practices have on climate change, healthy ecosystems, and the health of humanity.
Our Carbon Footprint
By supplying certified organic herbs, we eliminate the unnecessary use of harmful toxic chemicals (and emissions from making and transporting the chemicals) that contribute to climate change, while working to rebuild healthy soils that naturally draw down carbon and help restore balance.
Our total energy usage in our manufacturing facility increased by 8.4% in 2022. We believe this increase is partly due to running our HVAC equipment 24/7 during a heatwave to keep our team safe, and partly due to installing new industrial fans in the warehouse.
Our total energy use in Ashland decreased by 9.8%. We attribute this to employees continuing to work from home after the pandemic.
When calculating our carbon emissions, we currently include:
- the energy use at our offices and facilities.
- energy use during the manufacturing processes.
- estimate for employee telecommuting.
- employee air travel.
- energy used for transportation by Banyan-owned vehicles.
- shipping emissions with Fed-ex and USPS.
- We continue to use the user-friendly South Pole emissions calculator.
Our total measured Co2 emissions were 667.03 tC02e (metric tons)—equivalent to 148 cars driven for one year. Knowing this helps us set reduction goals and gives us a framework to consider how nature positive carbon insetting projects (such as regenerative agriculture and solar energy) in our own supply chain help offset our carbon footprint.
At our Oregon offices, the energy we purchased through the City of Ashland is 95–98% carbon free or reduced carbon coming from the Federal Hydropower Project.
At our New Mexico facilities, we participate in the PNM Sky Blue® program to support clean, renewable wind and solar energy projects in New Mexico.
Scope 3 encompasses emissions that are not produced by the company itself. These emissions are not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by the company, but by those in our supply chain, such as growing and processing herbs in India.
In 2022 we started to measure shipping emissions (including customer shipments) in our Scope 3 calculations.
Our Water Footprint
Each month, we track our corporate (at Banyan facilities) water footprint and aim to identify ways to reduce our water usage, identify leaks, and prevent overuse.
Water use at our manufacturing and offices in New Mexicio was up 8.7% in 2022. This was due to business growth as well as to a heatwave, which caused extended use of evaporation coolers. The making of our herbal massage oils also uses extensive water.
At our Ashland offices, our water usage went down 11.4% compared to 2021. We attribute this to fixing a garden irrigation leak.
At this time, we are not able to measure the exact water used to grow the herbs we purchase at the farm level. However, when we meet with our farm partners we discuss their sustainability projects and concerns, and aim to offer support to reduce their water and environmental footprint.
Our Manufacturing and Waste Footprint
At Banyan, we take great pride in holding our facilities and processes to the highest standards that we can achieve in order to best serve our customers. In our certified organic production facility you will find an abundance of freshly-harvested herbs, flowers, and spices, as well as carrier oils, equipment, and all of the essential team members who make our mission possible. We strive to produce our products in a way that values stewardship of the environment and our natural world—an ongoing process of learning and improvement.
Thanks to local community partners, all wood and plastic pallets, plywood sheets, fiber barrels and steel drums (of which we receive hundreds and hundreds per year), styrofoam packing materials, and other spare materials are put to use after they reach the end of their lifespan with us.
If a shipment is quality rejected beyond its value for human consumption, we direct our materials into our compost stream which is picked up weekly by a local soil and fertilizer company for the purpose of creating rich topsoil.
We generate thousands and thousands of pounds of compost per year, mostly through the Ayurvedic oil cooking process which entails steeping herbs and pressing herbal material. We go to great lengths to ensure that the dregs are put to use rather than ending up in a landfill.
We recycle all cardboard and plastic packaging that we receive. Thousands of pounds of cardboard are recycled per year, along with kraft paper and PET label liner. We partner with a local paper shredding company to recycle using a process that is not available through the City of Albuquerque.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as the gloves, masks, hair nets, and shoe covers that our employees use in cooking, filling, and packaging our products cannot be recycled through the usual municipal means. It continues to be our goal to eventually recycle all of this PPE through companies such as Terracycle, which processes them in specialized facilities for reuse into raw material. These programs are extremely expensive; this year we opted to invest in more eco-friendly packaging instead.
Our Packaging and Shipping Materials Footprint
We continued to devote significant time and resources to researching and planning our transition to more eco-friendly packaging, resulting in a commitment to the following changes in 2023:
All purchased cardboard boxes used for shipping to customers continue to be Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certified, which means they are sourced from forests where raw wood is harvested legally and responsibly with an eye on biodiversity, water quality, and forest management best practices. It is our aim to eventually upgrade to boxes which meet more stringent and independently-evaluated Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.
We continue to pack orders with 100% recycled newsprint paper, using fewer plastic bags for the protection of breakable products.
We joined the One Step Closer Packaging Collaborative, a coalition of over 40 leading companies such as Dr. Bronners, Traditional Medicinals, and Sambazon within the natural products industry, demonstrating our commitment to working together to achieve more sustainable packaging solutions.
We made a public commitment to reduce the climate impact of our packaging with the Climate Collaborative, a community of businesses in the natural products industry joining forces to reduce climate change.