Blog Post #12
Social side of Consumption- Guayaki
Waylon Lewis is an editor for the Huffington Post who writes monthly articles about various ‘green companies’. He seems to be quite pessimistic about these small businesses, believing that after only a few years of operation they will sell out to ‘the man’. They will then lose their specialness as the large corporations trade quality for cheap ingredients and bottom lines. However, according to him, Guayaki Yerba Mate is different.
Lewis sat down for an interview with two of the founders of this company (Alex Pryor and David Karr) and gave this report:
“In short, Guayaki is healing our earth through business. Not fruity, unprofitable, airy-fairy business that’ll never make it. Rather, Guayaki represents a new paradigm: the better their business does, the more nature heals. Here’s how it works: mate (pronounced mah-tay) is shade-grown. In Paraguay, only 7% of the Rainforest remains (called the earth’s lungs, the rainforest absorbs carbon emissions and cools our planet, cleans the air we breathe, and provides habitat for a remarkable diversity of tribes, wildlife, and healing plants). Whenever you buy Guayaki mate, it’s grown in the forest. (Beware: many other mate companies are not shade-grown). Shade-grown products monetize the forest, thus protecting it from the bulldozer and the torch.
When you drink Guayakí, you’re helping to preserve the forest. It’s that simple. You’re helping to create jobs down there, so that natives don’t have to give up their traditional way of life and move to the city, where things often go downhill for them, fast. And a shade-grown plant like yerba mate allows the communities and farmers to earn fair-trade income without selling the precious land for destructive mono-crop agriculture (soy milk, anyone?). In other words, Guayakí creates markets for rainforest-grown yerba mate that provides a long-term sustainable economic alternative to rampant deforestation for lumber, cattle grazing, and monocrop agriculture” (Lewis).
Guayaki Yerba Mate has been able to capitalize off of the responsible consumption trend. “The natural products, eco, fair-trade marketplace is fundamentally different that other markets: it’s about changing the world for the better. That’s why consumers will pay something extra. It’s about being responsible for our products from beginning to end, from farm to table. It’s about the notion that we, as businesspeople and conscious consumers alike can live a good life, make good money, and at the same time do so in a way that’s of benefit to others, not at the expense of others” (Lewis). They are able to empower consumers to really make a difference with their purchases. This restorative model brings about sustainability and generates life.
Lewis believes that this company has the potential to become “the next great green fad. Its potential for market growth is enormous, and largely unrealized” (Lewis). It is a market solution that is shifting from a specialty product to the mass market. Guayaki Yerba Mate gives back to both the environment and the locals. “To date, the company says it has restored 20,000 acres of forest. As part of the Clinton Global Initiative, it committed to restore 40,000 acres of the Atlantic Rainforest in southern Brazil and create living wage jobs for 250 families in the area’s indigenous Marrecas community” (Tozzi). Guayaki brings an economic alternative where the consumer’s purchase literally drives this restoration. They balance economic, social, and environmental goals. Guayaki is proving that it can be profitable to restore communities and the environment (Tozzi). They deliver on their promises and truly walk their talk. “In this day and age of “conscious consumerism,” they’re poised to become everyone’s favorite company” (Lewis).
Lewis, Waylon. (2010). Saving Our Rainforests: Just a Sip Away? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/waylon-lewis/saving-our-rainforests-ju_b_414167.html.
Tozzi, John. (2010). Guayaki Wants to Take Yerba Mate from Niche to 7-Eleven Staple. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-29/guayaki-wants-to-take-yerba-mate-from-niche-to-7-eleven-staple.html.