People + Planet
“Slow Farmed Beauty is our way of doing no harm. We take slow mindful steps to ensure every ingredient sourced and bottle filled benefits the Earth, communities, individuals, animals, and plants along the way.”
Commitment to People + Planet
How can we do less harm to people and planet? Is it possible do no harm? What does this look like?
We’ve been asking these questions more and more frequently in these last few years. It seems like we are so removed from nature, and from our human interconnectedness, that the concept of ‘no harm’ is impossible to grasp. And so first, we must start by doing less harm.
At Laurel Skin, we are committed to doing less or no harm to both People and Planet.
Does ‘doing no harm’ sound like a lot to you? Or maybe, not enough? Most of us are not yet aware of the ways we do harm with our actions or with our consumption. Doing no harm comes as a result of learning from each other, keeping an open mind, expanding our awareness and imagining ways of doing things that may look completely different than present day. It is not an overnight achievement; it a journey that we are here for.
We are committed to a world where all people are treated in a way that embraces no harm, including but not limited to: immigrant farmworkers, Indigenous peoples, the AAPI community, Black folks, Latinxs, the LGTBQ community, and neurodivergent individuals. We want equal, sovereign human rights for all, in ways that lead to inspiration, opportunity, freedom, the transformation of old systems, and effortless accessibility to our most basic needs like food, water, and healthcare.
We are committed to having the lowest impact possible on Planet Earth, including the fierce protection of our waters, forests, Native lands of all kinds, our farmlands, animal habitats, and plant habitats. Every bee and every flower play an equal role of value in Nature, and we want all species and every picturesque landscape to be here for as long into the future as possible. We want to spark, envision, and actively assist in the rediscovery of what planetary health looks like.
Our current action initiatives for both People + Planet are below. Do you have more actionable suggestions for us? We are open to growth and additional steps that results in positive transformation!
– Laurel + the Laurel Skin team
“Mother Earth is our first teacher. she has informed us that oneness does not equal sameness. she shows us this through the harmonious balance that is held in the rich biodiversity that exists within our world.”
-Sherri Mitchell weh’na ha’mu’ kwasset
SOURCING AS ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Sourcing and tracing the supply chain is not only an environmental issue, but a major human rights concern. Forced labor, child labor, and unethical treatment of farmworkers span across the globe. At Laurel Skin it is our priority to source our ingredients as close to home as possible so this can be closely monitored. When we have to source internationally, it is direct from a human being with humanitarian intentions that mirror our own. In addition, we advocate for the profitability of the small family farmer. We encourage them to charge for their hourly labor versus the average industry botanical pricing model. We also regularly contribute to supporting our farms with purchases of equipment, additional staffing, and resources like water.
Do you contemplate who made your belongings and how they were paid or treated? This is something to consider with all of our belongings from our cell phones to our clothes to our skincare. What about your food and the hands that harvested it? Do they have healthcare, running water, or heat in their home? Were they victims of forced labor, child labor, or unethical treatment? And how can we know for sure?
Finding honest answers to these questions when sourcing botanicals on a commercial scale requires diligent awareness of these major human rights concerns among others. Unfortunately, even well intentioned organizations such as ‘Fair Trade’ are not without gaps in this movement for change. We have a responsibility as a brand that sources large amounts of plant material to go beyond certifications.
The sourcing initiative and commitment on behalf of Laurel Skin is unwavering from both an energetic and financial perspective. We could not be more proud of the work that we do in this area and we know it makes a substantial difference towards doing less harm.
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR EQUALITY
BIPOC Partnership Grant Program: We offer two $1,000 grants for BIPOC estheticians or spa owners each year. The intention of these grants is to provide opportunity in an industry where systemic racism has created barriers. The credits can go to either an existing BIPOC partner who expresses the need, or to a new partnership applicant. Please see this page for more details on this program or to apply.
In addition to the BIPOC Partnership Grant Program, we will offer one full scholarship for a BIPOC esthetician to attend our next Laurel Skin Retreat. We will also offer multiple partial-trade accessibility credits to as many attendees as is financially possible for us. We will announce these details and open applications once the next Laurel Skin Retreat is formally scheduled.
PUSH TOWARDS DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
At the next Laurel Skin Retreat, we are excited to welcome a diverse range of educators to touch on issues like racism in the wellness industry and cultural appropriation. We will also address financial accessibility and creative ways to be more accessible in wellness for those who need it. Finally, we will bring in folks to address LGBTQ acceptance and safety in wellness spaces.
We will have a minimum of 20% paid affiliate partnerships and collaborations with BIPOC, and are actively seeking LGBTQ affiliates and collaborators as well. We welcome more diverse partnerships of all kinds in the wellness community!
INTERNAL COMPANY INITIATIVES FOR CHANGE
Laurel and Eric, the owners of Laurel Skin, and Kelly, our Director of Operations, have undergone in-depth anti-racism education. Laurel began her anti-racism journey with Layla Saad’s 28 day initial online challenge; where she dove into the depths of her shadow with 28 days of writing prompts that were publicly displayed on Instagram. This work progressed over the years, and most recently continued with Dive In Well’s four-week workshop to push for diversity, inclusivity, and equality in the wellness space.
Eric and Kelly are seeking to make our internal workplace equitable and inclusive, and have attended the Adaway Group’s “Whiteness at Work” four-part seminar series. We are actively changing the language we use both internally and externally to be inclusive, altering our hiring process to be more accessible, and have directed focus on ways that we can foster a supportive learning environment and inclusive culture for our staff.
We have offered our Laurel Skin team complimentary anti-racism education and resources, and will continue to do so. We created a continued education initiative known as the Laurel Library. This library is a culmination of staff-picked educational books to share with the rest of the team, allowing everyone’s unique interests and passions to be shared, promoting inclusivity and internal growth. Book topics have ranged from Black history, racism, sexism, mental health, roots of herbalism, the medicinal properties of plants, and natural history. We make the effort to order all books from Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre which amplifies marginalized voices and donates a percentage of sales to The Loveland Foundation, which supports mental health accessibility for Black women.
In 2020 we started an employee self-care initiative, offering an annual stipend to our staff to support their personal health. Additionally, we offer an Employee Assistance Program that provides confidential resources to both employees and their families to take care of challenges, life events, and various needs that range from mental health support, caregiving, financial services, counseling, substance abuse support, and more.
At Laurel Skin, we understand the value of the collective team of humans behind the business. No one role is more important than another, and we operate in a ‘people over profits’ way of doing business, which we believe is the way of the future. We feel it is important to lead the way in what we give back to our team with competitive pay, healthcare services, and a yearly profit sharing initiative that Laurel started in 2016.
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
SOURCING AS AN ACTION FOR PLANETARY HEALTH
Just as we use sourcing as an actionable step for human rights, we also utilize sourcing as an actionable step towards planetary health. As we mentioned above, this sourcing initiative on behalf of Laurel Skin is a deeply involved financial and energetic commitment that we take pride in knowing the benefits of our efforts.
Utilizing only organically farmed ingredients is an unwavering choice. Widespread pesticide use continues to poison our water and food sources, and harm the habitats and ecosystems of animal, plant, and microbial life. Insisting against the use of GMOs is also essential to allowing Nature’s own intelligence to prevail, instead of alternatively forcing or manipulating Nature. We prefer Indigenous, biodynamic, or regenerative agricultural methods; eliminating mono-cropping and creating healthy full-circle ecosystems that support all of life within them. This commitment goes well beyond USDA standards, because there are gaps and loopholes in their systems that can be easily taken advantage of.
Additionally, we avoid ingredients that are ‘wild harvested’ or ‘wild crafted.’ These terminologies are not monitored, and over-harvesting can lead to plants becoming at-risk or endangered, creating vulnerable animal habitats and unhealthy ecosystems. Also, these ingredients are not typically from ‘pristine’ or ‘wild’ areas of nature as their marketing would suggest, and can come from heavily polluted regions. On the other side of that conversation, when they are commercially taken from the ‘wild,’ taking from Native lands feels equally harmful. It is for these reasons we choose farmed ingredients, or we work directly with Indigenous communities.
How our ingredients are processed is of equal importance. We do our own in-house manufacturing. One of the reasons for this is to ensure that we are not relying on the pharmaceutical or petrochemical industries. Larger industries like this are often driven by profit and greed, at the expense of both people and planet. Most cosmeceutical synthetic or bio-identical ingredients involve both of these industries, and having a greater understanding of any harm these operating facilities might have on the planet is something to examine.
Our Abundant Harvest initiative is centered around our use of abundant plants and supports both our farmers and their land. Ingredients can become trendy before a healthy supply chain is in place for that plant, which means that the use of trendy ingredients can cause harm. For our Abundant Harvest program, we worked closely with farmers closest to our Petaluma Barn to decipher what plants grow most effortlessly, with as little strain on resources and land as possible. We utilize these locally grown ingredients to formulate our spa line, as well as some of our limited edition products.
Our products and ingredients are never tested on animals, and we take an active role in preserving diverse animal habitats in nature. Bees are an essential part of planetary health, and we only work with small scale bee farmers who put the health and growing population of bees over profit. Many of our farms have hives that are not for harvesting honey; they solely exist to support happy bees.
This never ending topic of sourcing only leads to more questions: What sourcing techniques do no harm? Is that even possible? At this moment in time, being conscious to these factors at all seems like a step in the right direction.
PACKAGING TO ELIMINATE WASTE
All of our shipping materials at Laurel Skin are made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. At this time there is only one small business left in the United States producing paper materials like this, and sourcing from them is a large financial commitment for us. While many plant-based options can sound appealing when it comes to packaging, they do still consume new plant material, as opposed to utilizing pre-existing post consumer waste materials, as well as drive farming methods that we do not support for reasons we mentioned above. It is for this reason, we feel 100% post consumer is the best option for us.
Once our packages are in your hands, all of our shipping materials and product boxes are paper that can be either recycled or composted. Our glass bottles and jars are also recyclable or re-useable. All paper used for educational items like brochures or training materials are printed on post-consumer recycled paper as well, and printed with plant-based biodegradable inks.
Additionally, we created a “Box Opt Out Program” as a sustainability option for both our retailers and our customers. This allows both the customer and the retailer to choose if they would like the additional product box packaging or not. This is something our internal shipping team keeps track of for each individual retailer and then packages according to their preference. This initiative has kept tens of thousands of product boxes out of land fills or recycling centers thus far.
NON-TOXIC CHOICES FOR PEOPLE + PLANET
While the term ‘non-toxic’ has a broad definition and scientific skepticism, we feel aligned with this term as it sparked the birth of our company. We stay away from utilizing ingredients that are not easily processed by the human body or harmful to the the planet. In all of our internal cleaning and manufacturing processes we eliminate the use of dyes, fragrances, and harsh chemicals.
We choose to sterilize our packaging with organic grape alcohol, and clean our lab with a plant-based disinfectant. We clean our floors and other surfaces with a vinegar water solution. Fragrances are not allowed in the Laurel Skin Barn, for the health of our team and in consideration of what goes down the drain.
The energy we use is also a conscious choice for our company. We partner with Sonoma Clean Energy to ensure our Barn is powered by renewable energy resources.
“We often forget that we are Nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost connection to Nature, we have lost connection to ourselves.”
Who We Support
Aside from the above action steps we take towards the health of both people and planet, any donations we provide as a company are for the health of people and planet as well. Here is a non-comprehensive list of non-profits that we have chosen to share our profits with in the last year. Reparations to BIPOC are ongoing for us and not listed below.
- Food Empowerment Project
- Farms to Grow, Inc.
- Jamaa Birth Village
- The Loveland Foundation
- Direct Action for Farmworkers
- Save the Redwoods League
- Sylvanaqua Farms
- A Growing Culture
- Slide Ranch
In addition, we also financially contribute to individuals who offer ongoing anti-racism education on their platforms such as Layla Saad, Rachel Cargle, and Leesa Renee Hall who has a specific focus on anti-racism work with highly sensitive empaths.
“Health stems from an integral relationship to Nature and longevity depends on a deep connection to community.”
-Zach Bush, MD
What Keeps Laurel Up At Night
Food deserts. Plastics in the ocean. Toxic waste in water systems. Global dependency on broken systems.
In 2020, Eric and I spent many a night awake wondering how humanity actually arrived to where we are today. We decided to give up our television, and instead opted for talks with revolutionary thinkers like Charles Eisenstein and Vandana Shiva.
The issues that plague us personally transcend party lines and patriarchal political round tables.
The issue that cuts right to our heart is food and water sovereignty. This is interconnected to so many different things— Indigenous rights, health inequality in Black and Latinx communities, higher rates of metabolic disease and specific cancers in lower income areas, and more.
From our perspective, our health depends on access to and interconnectedness with Nature, because we are not separate from Nature. We believe that we should all have the right to grow our own food and have effortless access to fresh pristine water. We don’t personally see any shortcuts to health, but we understand these basic human survival necessities don’t exist for those who lack financial and/or geographical accessibility.
We aren’t sure what our role in this arena looks like yet, but you’ll notice almost all of our financial donations are to folks who have a hand in food or water, and ultimately health as well. We are grateful for the health privilege we have, and our desire is for that to be accessible to everyone. We are currently in the very early stages of brewing up what we hope will bring healthier food options and educational food growing tools to an area in the Mojave Desert, and we look forward to collaborating with our small community there on a path towards food sovereignty.
Can we all be the ones to create something new? Not just me and Eric, but rather a collective WE — can all of us humans make choices towards something bigger than ourselves? We are watching decolonization slowly dismantle outdated systems that do not support life, and we are contemplating what the collective ‘we’ will create in their place that genuinely supports all PEOPLE and PLANET.