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Company Timeline
Behind the scenes, Our Smart Eco-Friendly & Socially Responsible Business Practices
Our Smart Business Practices (PDF)

1989
Choice Organic Teas is born when our parent company Granum Inc. offers four Japanese organic teas: Ban-cha, Twig, Oolong, and Green Tea.

1990
Choice Organic Teas begins to blend its own organic teas in a small 40-pound capacity modified mixer. Took entire workday to blend 240 pounds of organic tea.

1991 – 1992 
Expanding awareness about organically grown teas highlighted the fact that exisiting “natural“ teas were nothing more than products of conventional agriculture.
Nine new organic teas introduced, including Decaffeinated Earl Grey Tea.To this day it is the only organic Decaf Earl Grey in the U.S., and now it is also Fair Trade Certified™.

1993 – 1995
Competitors begin to roll out token entries into the organic tea market. Apparently people began to believe us. Oh, and we also introduced two more organic teas.

1996
Sent James, our newly “knighted” Tea Production Manager to Italy to learn how to operate a tea-bagging machine. Bought our very first machine for $250,000 sight unseen from Poland. (And you thought eBay was risky.)

1997
Organic tea line grows to 19 teas.
Choice Organic Teas considered adding a second work shift to help cover the increasing orders. (But who wants to work a second shift?) Instead, we bought a second tea-packing machine.

1998
Choice Organic Teas begins to sell organic tea to the food service industry.

1999
Bought a really big stainless steel drum blender with 240 pounds of tea leaf capacity.

2000
Choice Organic Teas becomes the first tea crafter in the United States to offer Fair Trade Certified™ tea, expanding awareness of a just form of trade with the developing world.
We move to our current location in West Seattle – the same day as the massive 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake shook the Puget Sound. That was a memorable day, to put it mildly.

2002
USDA Organic standards are established.
Premium Japanese Green Tea (one of our first teas in 1989) takes the top spot in overall sales thanks to the American media’s “discovery” of Green Tea’s health benefits.
Hired an entire second shift production team of new employees to pack more organic teas for a growing mass of satisfied customers.

2003
Choice Organic Teas begins to purchase Green-e Certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset 100 percent of our West Seattle facility’s electricity usage through wind generated sources. We hope more businesses do this.

2004
Rod the Warehouse Manager celebrates his 20th year on the job. Rod accepts our gratitude and promptly goes on sabbatical. (Our employees get two months off, paid, with benefits, after 10 years of service, and every five years subsequent. They deserve it.)
Choice Organic Teas wins the Washington State “Governor’s Award” for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Business Practices. We blush for weeks.
Ray the Operations Manager goes on sabbatical after 10 years of service. He sends postcards from New Zealand and Australia.

2005
The company bought a Volkswagen Jetta that runs on 100 percent bio-diesel. (Don’t even get us started on the benefits of bio-diesel over petroleum products.) www.biodiesel.org
Received the “Seattle’s BEST Award” for sustainable business practices.
More than 70 organic loose leaf and tea bag offerings available.

2006
Choice Organic Teas will start up a fourth tea-packing machine. This machine will be amazing – it ties the little tag onto the bag without staples. Someday, everybody will it do this way. You’ll see.
New even bigger all organic facility being planned.
Did we mention that Choice Organic Teas is the top selling exclusively organic tea line in North America?

Choice Organic Teas
Behind the scenes, smart eco-friendly business practices

After journeying all over the world seeking the perfect organic teas for our customers, a company like ours needs a worthy place to do business.
So we decided that our company should also try reduce the overall environmental footprint of our business. This is how we do it.

Choice Organic Teas operates out of a certified organic facility, which means that all product handling and packaging is done in a safe and environmentally friendly manner in accordance with, or exceeding, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organics Program (NOP) regulations and standards.
All of our tea packaging material is sourced to be the most environmentally friendly available. We refuse to use PVC in any form, thereby exceeding the United States National Product Standards.
Before purchases are made, we utilize a purchasing guideline for raw materials and equipment/supplies that concerns the necessity of the item, product packaging, distance of travel and possibility of return to manufacturer or if it can be recycled at the end of its life.

In Our Own Backyard
Since January 2003, a donation program has been in place where a portion of sales from each box of Choice Organic Teas sold through the Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC) goes to their Farmland Trust. PCC is a Seattle-based chain of natural-food stores. Money donated to the trust helps preserve local organic farmland.
www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/farmtrust

Closing the Loop
We recycle all paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum. Even our tea sweepings and infused tea leaves are recycled into compost. Our production and packing departments recycle all machine oil and poly stretch film. Our shipping department buys recycled pallets and requests that old and broken pallets be returned to the supplier, not the landfill. We creatively use reams of label backing material and misprinted tea bag envelope paper as packing material. We do not use Styrofoam packing peanuts, which are petroleum based. In 2004, 69,905 pounds of 100 percent recycled paperboard was purchased for making tea boxes.
Currently, we recycle 71 percent of our estimated total administrative and production waste. We continue to seek ways to improve this percentage.
Our various sales collateral pieces are printed on 100 percent recycled paper with the highest percentage of post-consumer waste available. Conscious effort is made to purchase necessary office supplies made from recycled materials.

Light, Wind & Fuel
In the winter of 2003, with the financial assistance of Seattle City Light, facility lighting fixtures and bulbs were replaced with low mercury and high efficiency ballasts and bulbs. The old light fixtures were recycled at a King County Hazardous Waste plant. Older lamps were retrofitted with shorter bulbs that require 35 percent less energy.
In order to reduce electricity use, all computers and monitors, lights, heaters, electric devices, and thermostats are turned off during off-business hours.
We buy Green-e Certified renewable energy certificates, offsetting 100 percent of our electrical power usage through wind-generated sources. This prevents 84,546 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Saving Water in a Rainy City
We have worked to reduce water usage at our facility in West Seattle, even though the manufacturing of tea uses very little water. In 2004, we converted the old 3.5 gallons per flush toilets in our leased facility to a more efficient, low-flow model that uses 1.6 gallon per flush.
The property managers of our corporate park planted low water consumption vegetation at our encouragement, limiting the amount of water used for landscaping.

Reducing the Size of Our Eco-Footprint
We use only low or “no-voc” (volatile organic compounds that give off gases) paints and finishes at our facility.
Sustainably produced cork flooring was added to the employee break-room.
Table skirting used in industry trade shows is made of natural hemp material.
Company “tea shirts” are made of 100 percent unbleached organic cotton and are printed with a patented environmentally conscious technology (REHANCE) that eliminates the need for plastisol inks. These shirts are produced by a women’s sewing cooperative in Nicaragua.
Our growing office staff uses eco-friendly office desks and chairs. The tables are constructed of “ecosunflower” material, composed of sunflower husks. The chairs are made of material of which 99 percent can later be recycled.

A Great Place to Work
In order to encourage employees to use environmentally friendly cleaning products and recycled paper products in their daily lives, there is a price and convenience incentive for them to buy these products directly from work.
At the start of 2004 an employee alternative transportation program was implemented to cut down on gas consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from employees commuting to and from work by car. Incentives are given to employees who walk, bike, or bus to work a minimum of 20 times per month.
A profit-sharing program is in effect where a percentage of pretax profits are divided among the employees as bonuses.
Our employees benefit by not being exposed to harmful chemicals or strong synthetic perfumes by working in a scent-free work place.


 

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