“Sustainability and transparency will be at the forefront of our company’s next 50 years.”
What is Sustainability Exactly?
Broadly defined, sustainability is a process of working to meet your own needs without damaging the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We believe that means acting as responsible corporate citizens in everything we do. Taking our stewardship for Earth’s resources—natural, economic and social—seriously and leaving plenty of everything for those who come behind us.
As we see it, the more we can act with environmental sustainability in mind, the better we leave our planet.
So how does Nature’s Sunshine value precious resources? What demonstrates our efforts at sustainability? Let’s look at four area for starters: sourcing of ingredients, farming, energy and packaging.
SUSTAINABLE SOURCING: INGREDIENTS
Nature’s Sunshine has been an herbal pioneer for more than 50 years and shares its life-changing supplements in more than 40 countries. To reach this level of success, we’ve always put premium ingredients at the forefront. Ensuring sustainability and transparency in the sourcing and harvesting of our raw materials has truly helped us become a Force of Nature.
Over thousands of years, communities throughout the world have embraced natural remedies from their surroundings and passed down their knowledge and experience for generations. Even with the technology and medicines of our modern age, the power of ancient remedies continues to attract new audiences.
The sustainable and ethical sourcing of botanical ingredients is more important than ever, as global demand for nature-derived health and wellness products continues to grow. Our unsurpassed botanical ingredients are carefully collected throughout indigenous communities on five continents with the help of people who know and respect the plants they harvest.
Selecting partners that support and protect the physical, financial and cultural well-being of these communities makes good business sense, and it’s the right thing to do. Through these conscious choices, we help local communities thrive, create trusting and lasting business relationships, and design better products.
What Goes into Sourcing?
Nature’s Sunshine ethically sources hundreds of unique raw ingredients and botanicals from various ecosystems around the world that are both cultivated and wild-crafted. We continuously search for farmers and collectors who share our passion for clean, pure, sustainable botanical materials.
We believe that caring for our Earth includes protecting both flora and fauna to the best of our ability. From the day our founders decided to leave plant harvesting to the professionals, it has been a top priority to find trusted vendors and to maintain lasting relationships with them so we can consistently source the quality ingredients our customers deserve.
Our experience shows that sustainably sourced raw materials result from supply partners who:
- Abide by our supplier code of conduct, including:
- Supporting our non-GMO requirements
- Following ethical sourcing guidelines
- Promising fair wages to their laborers
- Allow us to conduct in-person audits of their processing plants
In addition, we:
- Prefer organic, non-GMO and regeneratively farmed materials
- Support equitable labor practices
- Devote time and resources to finding and verifying supplier sites and farms to ensure best practices
- Remain committed to transitioning our business to suppliers who share our ideals
In short, we choose quality partners who care about the total well-being of the regions where our botanicals grow, both near and far.
Why it Matters So Much
“Sustainable procurement is about taking social and environmental factors into consideration alongside financial factors in making procurement decisions. It involves looking beyond the traditional economic parameters and making decisions based on the whole life cost, the associated risks, measures of success, and implications for society and the environment.”
The following spotlights on ingredient harvesting show just how much sustainability matters.
Barking up the Right Trees
The Pacific Northwest is famously home to conifer forests. These trees are used to make paper pulp. Once these pines are harvested, Cascara trees— regarded by some as “weed trees” not suitable for making paper—sprout up in their place. These trees are far more than weeds to the generational collectors whose families harvest the trees’ bark. The bark from these wildcrafted trees, Cascara Sagrada (or sacred bark), is one of the powerful, plant-based materials Nature’s Sunshine uses in its herbal laxative products.
Suppliers work collaboratively with the collectors to harvest and strip the bark during the late spring and summertime, employing best practices on how and where to remove it for minimal environmental impact. In addition to powering natural health products, this practice makes for high-quality raw material, reduces wildfire risk and enables conifer forests to thrive.
A Sustainable Harvest for Nova Scotia’s Kelp
Sea kelp is full of natural antioxidants, and it offers energizing nutrients for the glandular system as well as cleansing properties for the kidneys and bladder. Nature’s Sunshine sources much of its sea kelp from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, a region known for its clean, high-quality kelp.
Historically done by hand, harvesting sea kelp is labor-intensive and environmentally challenging. Furthermore, manual harvesting makes it nearly impossible to avoid pulling up the kelp’s roots along with the plant bodies. Once the roots are removed, it can take years for them to re-establish. That’s not what we want…
To prevent root extraction and keep the kelp population thriving, our suppliers use a special bladed rake to cut the kelp above its roots, removing approximately 17% of the plants’ biomass and leaving a certain amount of length to promote regrowth. Using GPS, the team rotates the location and timing of harvest to prevent growth disturbance, resulting in healthier, more abundant kelp yields in recent years.
We work with suppliers who have partnered with small farmers and independent harvesters for decades. Over time they have helped farmers rotate crops efficiently and minimize plant waste. They also teach collectors the best time and techniques for harvesting to help maximize plant quality, potency and sustainability.
These three examples of sustainable farming demonstrate our commitment to working with both experienced and dedicated suppliers and farmers to reap quality ingredients while supporting independent growers and boosting local economies by employing local citizens and paying fair wages.
Harnessing the Power of Missouri’s Black Walnuts
Missouri is home to more than 41 million black walnut trees that dot lawns and forests throughout the state. Black walnuts power a variety of our intestinal health products as well as local economies.
Each fall, local farmers, families and individuals—as well as community organizations such as religious groups and Boy Scouts troops in need of funds—collect black walnuts from their lawns, farms and local forests to sell to our suppliers. These suppliers in turn, separate the parts of the walnut to sell as raw materials for diverse products.
Helping Eastern Asian Farms Thrive
Red beet root is a natural source of energy and increased blood flow and a key ingredient in Nature’s Sunshine’s Rejuvenaid® formula.
Our suppliers source red beet root from family farms in China and Mongolia. Historically, these family-owned farms have focused on farming a low-cost commodity—often corn, wheat or cotton—limiting their income potential.
Partnering with these farmers, our suppliers teach them how to integrate more profitable crops such as beets, cabbage and broccoli. They also teach farmers to rotate crops and reduce plant waste by using unsold parts of the plants for animal feed, enabling farmers to grow their income and their farms.
Bringing Jobs to Appalachia
Many of our ingredients are grown in the areas surrounding the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky – a region that has experienced economic hardship as demand for coal, the most prominent natural resource, has declined.
Our suppliers have helped hundreds of people in this region gain a steady income throughout the year. They commission local residents to harvest and collect indigenous plants from the forests at different times of the year. Once plants are collected, other local residents, many of whom are naturopaths, dry the plants.
The mutual economic benefits aren’t the only value of these partnerships. Many of these local collectors have families who have lived in the region for generations, and through the years they have passed down a tradition of being connected to the land.
A large part of our 50th anniversary reimagination process has been devoted to our renewed commitment to protecting nature and creating a healthier planet by becoming an even more sustainable company. After all, without nature, our company and its products wouldn’t exist, so we want to help preserve our Earth and its life-giving nutrients for future generations.
Our reimagined sustainability focus includes lofty goals for waste reduction, renewable energy and reduced consumption, responsible sourcing, sustainable product packaging and otherwise reducing our carbon footprint.
Solar Is True Sunshine Power
It only makes sense for us to do what we did in July 2022: make the switch to solar power! Yes, we’re harnessing actual sunshine to completely power our world-class manufacturing facility. That means that the ONLY source of power we use to run our 250,000 square foot plant, labs and warehouse space is…the SUN. So every capsule, tablet, bulk powder and liquid made and shipped to our customers from Utah is now created exclusively with solar power.
This step makes Nature’s Sunshine one of Utah’s very first solar powered companies. In conjunction with our transition to LED warehouse lighting, it also:
- Reduces the total power usage at our manufacturing plant by 25%
- Immediately reduces our CO2 emissions by 42%
- Means that 91% of our US operations and 82% of our global operations are powered by the sun
We’ve also been able to power our corporate offices in Lehi, Utah with 50% solar energy!
We continuously assess and adjust our packaging to reduce waste. Our combined efforts over the past couple years have greatly impacted several markets and have vastly reduced our carbon footprint. Take a look…
In 2021, we began packing our bulk powders like Collagen, Everybody’s Fiber and Ultimate GreenZone in gusseted bags instead of plastic jars. This saves on shipping and storage costs and is much more energy-friendly as it takes up 90% less space in landfills. We also transitioned our capsule and tablet products to post-consumer-recycled bottles.
In the UK, we announced new, eco-friendly packaging for our Synergy Biome Shake intended to reduce GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption. The new durable, bio-based container is petroleum-free, 100% recyclable and derived from sugar beets.
In Taiwan, we have converted our TruGreen chlorophyll product from 2-ounce plastic bottles to flexible foil pouches. These pouches reduce the product packaging size and weight by 90% and 66%, respectively, and occupy 60-75% less space in shipping containers. Additionally, the new packaging requires 90% less energy and water to create and results in 90% less waste.
Increasing our efforts at sustainability in these and other areas helps make Nature’s Sunshine an even more prominent global leader in the supplement industry and a more responsible citizen of planet Earth. If you want to learn even more about our environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, click on the button on this link to read the full ESG report.