Osmia turns eleven this month; another lap around the sun for this little company trying to do big, good things. It makes me reminisce about the early days of Osmia—the crazy journey of leaving my job as an ER doctor to launch a green beauty business with two tiny kiddos and one sensationally supportive husband. From my feverish soap-making days to hiring my first employee to our bustling business today, it’s been a wild and wonderful ride.
Anniversaries are always a time of celebration, but often come with a healthy dose of reflection as well. Each year, I ask myself whether I’m doing what I sought to do when I created Osmia. In most ways, I know the answer is a clear, resounding YES! We are making beautiful, healthy products with extraordinary natural ingredients, encouraging self-care, and educating people about how skincare ingredients affect personal and global health. That’s a lot of good stuff for a day’s work, right? It’s also true that from the earliest days of Osmia, I have obsessed about the sourcing and quality of our ingredients, every aspect of our packaging, and how we operate as a company. Right down to the type of tape we use on our recycled shipping boxes, I’ve researched, analyzed, and made decisions that felt like the most informed ones for our planet. This obsession continues, and will continue, for as long as I hold Osmia in my hands.
In 2018, after attending a conference, I realized I wanted to do more. I wanted to give back in a more tangible way, but had not found what felt like the right philanthropic partner for our company—until then. Below is an excerpt from a post I wrote back then, when we decided to partner with One Tree Planted.
REFLECTING ON CARBON BURDEN
I recently attended a conference where a man named Tom Eddington talked about the carbon burden on our environment. He shared an interesting analogy for our current situation and our response to it. He told us to imagine stopping up the drains in our bathrooms and turning the sinks and bathtubs on full blast until they began to overflow. (This is the flooding of our environment with carbon.) Then he told us to turn down the water, but not turn it off completely. (This is the reduction of carbon emissions by conscious choices to reduce our carbon-creating behaviors.) Then, he said this: “You see the problem. It’s still overflowing, even if we have turned down the volume. We have to remove water and put it somewhere else if we don’t want the ceilings to cave in from the damage.”
Ouch. That was a powerful image for me regarding our poor planet and the damage we have done. My family and I live very consciously in our daily lives: we live in a straw bale home with solar heat and hot water; we compost all food scraps; we use metal coffee cups and water bottles; we recycle everything that’s recyclable; and we talk openly and often about the limited resources of the planet, and how small choices are critically important in creating change. The Osmia Team and I behave similarly at work, making earth-conscious choices at every opportunity, from a green facility to composting our lunch scraps. But all of these things, while they’re absolutely worth doing, are just turning down the faucet, and I want to do more.
Tom went on to talk about a very real way to take carbon out of the atmosphere, at least until there are better, large-scale options. He suggested planting trees. According to his math, if each person on earth (roughly seven billion) planted 36 trees in the next 12 years, we could sequester enough carbon to avoid reaching the carbon tipping point – the point of no return. Now, that’s a debatable topic. Plenty of scientists think we have already reached that point, but removing carbon from the atmosphere is clearly a way to reduce the burden while brilliant brains come up with new innovations to manage carbon. No doubt, the science regarding climate change is mind-meltingly complicated, but I left that conference with my wheels turning fast and a burning desire to plant some trees.
I researched various options and finally reached out to a Vermont-based organization called One Tree Planted. They plant trees from within Osmia’s own backyard in Colorado and Oregon, to Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They work with reforestation experts to plant appropriate species in areas where they will provide the most benefit to the surrounding ecosystems. They’ll even work with us to arrange tree planting days for our team, and any of our customers who want to get some trees in the ground.
ROOTED IN RESEARCH
So why trees? Well, planting trees is a simple act with significant impact.
Environmentally, trees clean our air of harmful gases, reducing the catastrophic effects of climate change. Their roots diligently filter our water, diminishing the absorption of pollutants into the soil while working to prevent soil erosion and preserving our coastlines. They provide safe shelter for animals, insects, and fungi.
Reforestation efforts also allow local communities to “empower themselves through the development of local economies and infrastructures.” Trees provide jobs, healthy food, safe shelter for our families, and are “key ingredients in one-quarter of all medicines.”
Are trees a perfect and complete solution to climate change? Definitely not. But that perfect solution does not yet exist, and planting trees is an incredible intermediate step we can all take until it shifts. I emailed the folks at One Tree Planted to ask some big questions about the whole picture when it comes to climate change, and they responded as follows:
“The science is certainly not clear-cut, and we don't pretend that trees are 'the answer' to climate change. When we look at the benefits of trees, we talk about the six pillars: air, water, biodiversity, health, social impact, and climate. We have a page on our site that runs through them very simply here.
So for us, planting trees is so much more than just a 'fix' for climate change. Trees are a huge part of the world we want to live in. They are a pivotal part of the complex natural ecosystem that we want to protect – one with diverse plant and animal species, clean waterways, and healthy forests to visit. Planting trees can also provide diversified and sustainable business for communities living below the poverty line – see our fruit tree planting project in India and community agroforestry project in Guatemala for some good examples.”
And that’s why we launched our partnership with One Tree Planted on Earth Day 2018.
After five years of partnership, we have now planted over 100,000 trees in Colorado with One Tree Planted. We were able to arrange a tree planting day close to our headquarters on Earth Day last year, where we dug in the dirt ourselves and put eleven trees in the ground. (And it took us six hours and a lot of grunting to get the job done—it's no joke!) With forest fires becoming part of the summer landscape here in the mountains of the American West, our tree-planting plans feel more relevant—and important—than ever.
From a seedling of an idea eleven years ago to a company firmly rooted in giving back to our planet, I am proud of Osmia’s journey so far, and incredibly grateful to each and every team member and customer who has helped us grow and thrive.
To learn more about One Tree Planted, please visit them here.
With love and loads of tree-hugging from us to you,