Behind the scenes,
Our Smart Eco-Friendly & Socially Responsible Business
Smart Business Practices (PDF)
Choice Organic Teas is born when
our parent company Granum Inc. offers four Japanese
organic teas: Ban-cha, Twig, Oolong, and Green Tea.
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
Choice Organic Teas begins to sell organic tea to the
food service industry.
Bought a really big stainless steel drum blender with
240 pounds of tea leaf capacity.
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
Received the “Seattle’s BEST Award”
for sustainable business practices.
More than 70 organic loose leaf and tea bag offerings
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?
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.
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
Light, Wind &
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
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
Sustainably produced cork flooring was added to the
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
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
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
A profit-sharing program is in effect where a percentage
of pretax profits are divided among the employees as
Our employees benefit by not being exposed to harmful
chemicals or strong synthetic perfumes by working in
a scent-free work place.