Natural Body Care

Spotlight on The Orange Owl

This week’s Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on The Orange Owl! This Vermont-based vegan skincare company provides our Wellness department with a full line of fabulous body care products and from February 8th – 14th, they’ll all be 20% off for member-owners! It’s a perfect time to pick up a few DIY Spa products for your Valentine, or to simply pamper yourself! Read on to learn more about this wonderful local business and the fabulous female powerhouse at the helm:

About the Company

The Orange Owl is a vegan skincare company based in the beautiful state of Vermont. The core mission of the company is to provide simple and environmentally friendly alternatives to essential products used regularly in our lives. ‘Going Green’ is not just a buzzword or about being fashionable to the folks at The Orange Owl. Instead, it is one of the vital components that goes into designing all of their merchandise.

Inspiration for The Orange Owl’s products is derived from a number of sources. From the smell of early morning coffee with a hint of cinnamon, hikes along some of the most beautiful trails in New England, to a plethora of experiences in founder Askhata Nayad’s home county of India, epiphanies happen all the time. It’s from these experiences that the colors, scents, and textures of her products are born.

Giving Back

She has also not forgotten that as you move ahead in life, it is important to give back to society. To this end, The Orange Owl is involved with The Schooling Project, an organization in India that works towards financing the education of underprivileged children. The Orange Owl donates 5% of every purchase made to benefit The Schooling Project, which works together with Global Concerns India to provide avenues for children to gain the financial means necessary to stay in school. In addition to basic education, the team does a fantastic job of offering workshops with the children to build their confidence and helps them explore various technical fields ranging from photography, to film design, and green design.

About the Owner

Akshata Nayak was born and raised in the city of Bangalore in southern India. She moved to America for her graduate studies in late 2003, earning a Masters in Biochemistry and, a few years later, a Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition. After working in basic research in the fields of Immunology and Emergency Medicine for six years, she decided to shift her focus.The Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition was a step in that direction. It helped emphasize some basic policies of trying to establish a balance in people’s lives when it came to overall health.

When she’s not busy owning and operating The Orange Owl, she also serves as a nutritionist at Alternative Roots Wellness Center, a holistic health center started with her husband. She lives in Vermont and loves to cook, read and repeatedly change the cushion covers in her living room. She is having the proverbial blast.


Akshata believes that establishing a relationship with you is just as important as having you enjoy her products. After all, knowing the people behind the items you use regularly makes the purchase more personal. So, indulge and treat yourself. Leave your problems behind. Experience these wonderful products!


Spotlight on Tom’s of Maine

Tom’s of Maine is basking in the glow of the Co-op Spotlight this week and all of their wonderful body care products are 20% off for member-owners! This discount is in addition to the everyday low price on many Toms of Maine products offered through our Co-op Basics program, so it’s a great time to stock up and save! Read on to learn more about the philosophy of care for people and planet that the Tom’s of Maine community holds dear:



According to Tom’s Of Maine General Manager Nancy Pak, “…we’ve always believed that our goals should include more than just making a profit. We have also worked to operate in a sustainable manner and to be a positive force for good in the communities where we operate. Our philosophical Reason for Being inspires our strategy; our Stewardship Model is a practical tool which guides our decision-making on what belongs in our products, and our Goodness Goals set the path for continuous improvement. We are proud to operate our business in this manner – our employees are passionate about making good products, caring for the planet and supporting communities – and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Reason for Being

n 1988, after 18 years in business, the Tom’s of Maine community recognized a need to formalize their values and beliefs into foundational documents to help guide the future growth and management of the company. Led by their co-founders Tom and Kate Chappell, the community met and grappled with such thorny philosophical concepts as ethics, science, legality, emotion, and morality and how it all applied to running a sustainable business. Out of this brainstorming session, the Tom’s of Maine Reason for Being was born:

To serve our customers’ personal care needs with imaginative science from plants and minerals; To inspire all those we serve with a mission of responsibility and goodness; To empower others by sharing our knowledge, time, talents, and profits; and To help create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope.

Stewardship Model

The personal care industry tosses around words like “natural”, “sustainable”, and “responsible” without a lot of accountability or transparency to support these label claims.  Tom’s of Maine feels that it is important to define and be true to these constructs. They believe that every ingredient and package they use should be a reflection of their commitment to their customers, communities, and our planet.

Tom’s Standards for Natural:

  • Sourced and derived from nature.
  • Free of artificial flavors, fragrances, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
  • Simple and understandable ingredients.
  • Ingredient processing that supports our philosophy of human and environmental health.
  • Free from animal ingredients.
  • Not tested on animals.

Tom’s Standards for Sustainable:

  • Originating from recyclable or renewable plant-based resources.
  • Striving to reduce waste through recycled content, recycling, and biodegradability.
  • Promoting the use of sustainable growing and harvesting practices.

Tom’s Standards for Responsible:

  • Delivering value to our consumers.
  • Sufficient research conducted to show safety and efficacy.
  • Purposeful in system of ingredients, with complete transparency about the purpose and source of the ingredient.
  • Sourced from suppliers and regions which promote basic human rights.
  • Honesty in all claims made for ingredients, packaging, and products.
  • Conform to the requirements of regulatory authorities (Food & Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission) and other professional organizations with which we have chosen to partner (American Dental Association).

Goodness Goals

  • Maintain cruelty-free animal-free product standard.
  • Maintain no artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives.
  • Reduce waste to landfill per ton of product manufactured at our Sanford, ME manufacturing facility. Progress in 2013 and 2014 surpassed our original 2015 goal of 75 kg/ton. So close to zero waste!
  • Increase the amount of recycled and reused materials expressed as a percentage of the total waste generated at our Sanford, ME manufacturing facility.
  • Reduction of virgin materials as a percentage of packaging weight.
  • Transform 100% of our corporate philanthropy to consumers and employee teams. We give back 10% of our profits to the community. In 2015, our customers help us determine where these funds would be used via our 50 States for Good program. Thanks for helping us make a difference!
  • We’re always looking at ways to help our team maintain and improve their health through our year-round wellness initiatives. Here we track the percentage of employees who participate in these programs.
  • Continually mobilize and empower more employees to use the 5% Volunteer Benefit (12 full days per year). Tom’s of Maine holds a company-wide annual volunteer day each summer in which we have 90% participation. However, we’re working to get employees to volunteer more often year-round!
  • Reduce carbon emissions from transportation of our finished products (in kilograms of CO2 per ton shipped). This is an increase from 2013 because of the delivery logistics to more outlets on the West Coast. We use rail to get most product across the country, but we still need trucks for some shipments. We’re on it, though, and working on a plan to fix it to meet our goal.
  • Reduce carbon emissions from our Sanford, ME manufacturing facility (in kilograms of CO2 per ton produced).
  • Partner with our contract manufacturers to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions.
  • Reduce overall water consumption in our Sanford, ME manufacturing facility.

Click HERE to read the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Report.



Click HERE to learn more about Tom’s of Maine’s commitment to protecting our planet through responsible sourcing, manufacturing, and packaging.

Spotlight on Burt’s Bees

We’re casting our Member Deals spotlight on Burt’s Bees this week to shed a little light on the wonderful things they’re doing to protect and maintain healthy pollinator populations through their Wild For Bees initiative. Member-owners can enjoy 30% off all Burt’s Bees products this week – just in time for Mother’s Day! Read on to learn about the history of Burt’s Bees, their products, their environmentally-friendly practices, and their efforts to save our pollinators:


Burt'sBees Round Logo

It all began in the summer of ’84 when Maine artist Roxanne Quimby met Beekeeper Burt Shavitz. Roxanne was attempting to thumb a ride home and was picked up by Burt, who she immediately recognized as the bearded beekeeper who often sold honey on the roadside out of his iconic bright yellow Datsun pickup. The two hit it off, and before long, Burt was selling beeswax candles alongside his honey. Fast-forward more than 30 years, and Burt’s Bees now offers some 200 different products! Through the years of growth and evolution as a company, Burt’s Bees has remained true to a simple idea:  what you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.

In addition to providing earth-friendly health, beauty, and personal care products, Burt’s Bees is also committed to supporting projects and research at the intersection of bee and human health. One such project is the Wild For Bees initiative. Here’s what Burt’s Bees has to say about this series of projects:

We all know that honeybees make a lot more than wax and that they are connected with several critical issues for human and environmental health, including biodiversity, food security, nutrition, and sustainable land use. We rely on bees for nearly 1/3 of our entire food supply.  Not to mention all the fibers, spices and medicines the plants they pollinate make possible. A world without bees is unimaginable and we won’t let it happen. We support our buzzing friends with many wonderful projects that promote honeybee health and sustainable agriculture. We are also continually improving our sourcing process, so that eventually each and every one of our ingredients, pollinated or not, will be vetted and accounted for.

Our efforts to support pollinator health have spanned research, education and conservation; over the years, we’ve supported a number of community organizations working for change at the intersection of human and honeybee health, awarded over 30 pollinator health research grants, and worked to drive awareness of the plight of honeybees and how individuals can help.

Of these efforts, our recent focus has been on establishing habitat, providing bees with a much-needed feast. By 2020, Burt’s Bees aims to impact 10,000 acres of healthy honeybee forage. To date, our work and committed funds have already impacted 6,600 acres of pollinator forage. Bur there’s more to do. One campaign helping establish habitat is the Bring Back The Bees program. The goal of this program is to plant 1 billion wildflowers adjacent to farms to provide bees a nutritious and much needed feast, and they need your help to reach this goal:

In addition to their extensive work to raise awareness and support for pollinator health, Burt’s Bees has also taken some impressive steps to ensure that their products and processes are earth-friendly. Here’s what they have to say about their operational footprint:

Have you ever seen a bee’s footprint? Neither have we. All those little gals do is fly from here to there, getting pollen all over everything as they quest for the perfect building material. But they take only what they need—and they leave their environment better than the way they found it.

At Burt’s Bees, we take our cue from nature. We’ve committed ourselves to making the world a little greener, a little cleaner, by doing what bees do best: working hard on natural products that people love.

That’s why, for example, we’ve committed ourselves to a policy of sending zero waste to landfill. With over 350 employees in three facilities, not a single piece of garbage goes to the dump. Not one. Really. How? Each month, our employees diligently volunteer to check over 200 recycling, composting, and waste to energy bins, ensuring everything is sorted properly.

We also encourage you to take advantage of our Recycle on Us Mail Back Program, which keeps the tubes and containers from your favorite Burt’s Bees lip products out of landfills and back into good use.

We’re also serious about energy use. We know that our purchased electricity is the largest contributor to our carbon footprint—so we’ve outfitted our facilities with energy-efficient lighting, resource management software, and efficient production equipment. Our conscientious employees look for ways to save energy and water. And we’re focusing more on the impact of our supply chain, including contract manufacturers.

But we also know that, as our brand has grown, so has our water usage, jeopardizing our 2020 sustainability goals. That’s not good enough for us. In the face of global freshwater scarcity and limited nonrenewable energy sources, it’s more important than ever to take only what we need.

So, until we can be fossil fuel free and water neutral, we’re offsetting our environmental impact in other ways

There’s still much to be done, but we’re determined to get there. Because we’re not just creating a better world for ourselves—we’re also doing it for the little yellow and black pollinators who live in harmony with nature, and to whom we owe so much.

“What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” Wise words from one of our first catalogs, published over 20 years ago. It’s wisdom that continues to inspire us today, and it’s why we do things a little differently around here. No trash cans at our desks, for example. We like a little yoga with lunch. We speak our minds. We help our neighbors. In short, we practice what we preach.

That’s why we encourage our employees to take time off to go do something good for the world. It’s why, each year, we hold a Culture Day to promote community outreach—in the past we’ve planted urban gardens and built hive boxes for the recovering bee population. We encourage wellness through weekly onsite yoga. And through the Greater Good Team, we strive to maintain environmentally friendly practices within our company and alongside our partners.

We’re basically a bunch of hands-on, tree-hugging, greased elbow do-gooders. It’s kind of what makes our company special. We think the bees would agree.

An Interview with Kirsten of Flourish Natural Body Care

One of the beautiful, intangible things about supporting local products is the element of human connection. When you have questions about the products, you get to call and speak with an actual human who likely created the products, knows them intimately, and can skillfully answer all of your questions. The alternative often entails calling an 800 number, navigating your way through various electronic menus, listening to bad hold music, and, if you’re lucky, reaching a customer service rep who may or may not be able to answer your questions. We experienced a fine example of this sort of thing recently when we noticed that one of our favorite natural body care product lines was sporting a beautiful new makeover. This prompted us to reach out to founder and creator of Flourish Natural Body Care, Kirsten Connor. She chatted with us from her studio in Woodstock, Vermont, and we got the scoop on the fresh new look, plus lots of other great info about her natural body care products:


Kirsten Blue Background

MNFC:  What inspired your venture into the world of natural body care products?

Kirsten:  I started out as a soap maker. I taught myself to make cold process soap and this whole world of scent and color just opened up for me. I was kind of fascinated by the fact that by using one of the most dangerous/caustic substances (lye) and combining it with the right ingredients it could be completely transformed into something wonderful for your skin. Once I had mastered soap, I added on scrubs and balms and then worked up to understanding lotions and cremes. Hair care was definitely the trickiest because being a “purist” I wanted to be able to make it from soap-but after literally hundreds of trials I had to accept that soap and my hair were not a happy combination. When I began to look more closely at cleansers in shampoos I began to understand that there are really good options that are very gentle and biodegradable. Similarly to the relationship between milled soap and cold process soap.

MNFC:  Your products have some new ingredients added. Can you tell us about this?

Kirsten:  As a formulator, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that “less is more”. I’ve always tried to limit the number of ingredients in a recipe so that they would really have  a chance to shine. Like with our body cremes-the star is the cocoa butter so I really want you to be able to feel the silkiness of that when you are putting it on your skin. Since Vermont is such a agricultural state, people who were sampling our products would always ask me if I grow all the lavender, etc. that we use in our products, not realizing that lavender doesn’t grow reliably well here in Vermont. Our really fun scent combinations have always been what makes our products stand out. One day, while planting in my garden, I read a description of angelica-and was startled because the description was exactly how I always described our Rosewood Infusion blend.  I began to think about other plants that would reflect the feeling that our different scents gave. I consulted with an herbalist and she and I worked together to choose the plants and find the best way to deliver them in the different products.

MNFC:  Your products have a new look! What prompted this packaging change?

Kirsten:  This was a big leap for us! After the flood in 2011, when we restarted Flourish, one of the things we were advised to do was to streamline our manufacturing/purchasing etc. and to use the same bottles for our shampoos, conditioners and lotions. Personally, I’m not a fan of plastic. I don’t use it at home for storing our food, etc. When I was reformulating our recipes, the issue came up for me again. Not only did I want to protect the herbal infusions and essential oils that we were including, but I really wanted to limit participating in so much plastic consumption. Of course, glass containers should never be used in the shower but in every other instance, glass is a better choice. You wouldn’t think of compromising your  beer or kombucha by storing it in a plastic bottle would you? Not to mention that during the manufacturing process, lotions and cremes are poured into their packaging while hot-so even if the plastic bottle or tube is BPA free, just the heat alone will cause some leaching. And then you are applying that to your skin?

MNFC:  What are your considerations when choosing ingredients for your products and how do you go about sourcing them?

Kirsten:  All of the herbal elements that we have added are either wildcrafted from our fields or we grow them in our gardens. Since we grow, harvest, preserve, etc. all of these plants we know that they are up to our standards. For everything else, we always choose organic oils and butters for our lotions and for our cleansers and preservatives we follow Ecocert guidelines when choosing ingredients. If you are not familiar, Ecocert is a European organization and the very first organization to develop standards for cosmetic manufacturing. With Ecocert there must be an absence of GMO’s, parabens, I phenoxyethanol, nano particles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes, and animal derived ingredients.  These standards close the loopholes that happen here in the US where a product can be certified organic but still contain a percentage of undesirable ingredients like phenoxyethanol.

MNFC:  What is your favorite product that you make? What scent?

Kirsten:  This truly does change with the seasons but overall I would say it is the GingerElixir+Arnica Body Oil. We have always been huge users of arnica for our entire family, but it is usually scented with menthol or peppermint-which I do not love. Having rheumatoid arthritis, I use arnica frequently and don’t always want a heavy medicinal smell. So I created this oil, infused with arnica flowers for pain and inflammation relief but with a warm, spicybeautiful ginger scent. So it’s more like a special treat.

MNFC:  What is your favorite thing about your job as a creator of natural body care products?

Kirsten:  Definitely when people who have tried our products tell me how much they love them!

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