We integrated the regeneration of people, community, and nature into our business model. Every purchase of Guayakí Yerba Mate drives rainforest stewardship, indigenous culture resilience, carbon drawdown, and the regenerative practices described here under each product life cycle stage. Meanwhile your enjoyment of yerba mate reconnects you with the vitality of life. When we come to life, we care about one another and stand together to create a better future.
COME TO LIFE!
We go beyond our organic, Fair for Life, and Non-GMO certifications to cultivate the regeneration of ecosystems and livelihoods of the indigenous communities and small-holder producers who grow our yerba mate. This whole systems approach brings the life back to growing food. It enhances biodiversity of the South American Atlantic rainforest and stores carbon in the soil and tree canopy instead of the atmosphere.
Guayakí’s 2020 mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and create over 1,000 living wage jobs. To accomplish this, we take a co-participatory approach to working with approximately 1,100 families in three nations to grow yerba mate. This approach allows for the redistribution of wealth and avoids concentration of power.
Guayakí sources ingredients from suppliers that are certified organic through a USDA-accredited certification agency and that have clear and transparent working conditions and environmental policies in place. Guayakí Yerba Mate products are produced without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Guayakí became the first Fair Trade certified yerba mate producer in the world through Fair for Life. Fair for Life standards require that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and that small-hold farmers receive a fair price. Fair Trade premiums fund community projects and infrastructure improvements.
Guayakí’s long-term partnerships with approximately 1,100 families create a reliable source of income, enabling them to improve their standard of living and strengthen their cultural identity as both stewards of the forest and engaged local citizens. This is achieved through programs that support food sovereignty, language preservation, and the unique heritages of the people themselves. With dialogue and discussion as a primary means to enacting the change we want to see in the world, Guayakí facilitates Participative Workshops that provide a space in which to exchange ideas, analyze and debate challenges, and identify the strengths and goals of all local stakeholders.
The forested lands from which Guayakí sources yerba mate are within one of the most biodiverse biomes in the world, providing habitat for important plant, bird, and other animal species. Biodiversity supports the forest’s capacity to provide local and global ecosystem services (e.g., carbon storage, climate stabilization, water supply stabilization, airborne pollutant filtering, and soil nutrient cycling).
A 3rd party analysis shows that the growing of Guayakí Yerba Mate in forested lands subtracts more than the carbon emissions emitted from overall processing, packaging and transportation of the products we bring to market. This is because multistrata agroforestry (i.e., combining crops with a tree canopy) is one of the most effective ways to draw carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil and trees.
We carefully balance time-honored processing traditions with environmental impacts. Guayakí works with yerba mate producers in South America to hand harvest only the leaves and small branches of the shade-grown plants. The yerba mate then goes through a process of drying, milling, and aging to allow the flavor to develop character.
Guayakí Yerba Mate is shade grown in rich forest ecosystems, enabling it to deliver more flavor and nutritional value. Sheltered from direct sunlight, which can stress the leaves and make them bitter, the tender leaves and stems that go into Guayakí Yerba Mate add a light sweetness and contain the euphoric effects of theobromine – the component in chocolate that lends to sated feelings of love and happiness.
Because Guayakí sources yerba mate grown in fully developed rainforests or on land with tall shade-providing trees, mate leaves are harvested by hand without machinery. The result is both a lower carbon impact and a finer taste. In many cases, Guayakí has worked closely with producers to develop sustainable harvest plans, which allow for trees to regenerate new growth and for only the premium young leaves and stems to be picked.
The processing of Guayakí Yerba Mate includes multiple stages of drying before it is milled and aged. We’re researching and adjusting drying practices where possible to address its contribution to short-lived climate pollutants.
To better manage the processing impacts of Guayakí Yerba Mate, we are building a state-of-the-art processing facility in Brazil. It will be located near our producers and the port where our yerba mate is exported to the United States. The facility will include green building features such as sourcing renewable energy, FSC-certified wood, reusing food waste byproducts, and utilizing reusable bulk packaging.
While we provide the high-quality ingredients and packaging components to our manufacturing partners, we rely on them to deliver both consistent quality and sustainable use of natural resources. It’s therefore critical that we not only work with reputable co-packers but also build long-term, cooperative relationships with them to ensure values alignment between companies. We are committed to zero waste, renewable energy, and water conservation in our operations.
We choose manufacturing partners who share our values and who want to build long-term relationships. Where we can, we co-invest in equipment and processes and engage in mutually beneficial practices for the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.
Guayakí sources 100% renewable energy for the electricity usage at our headquarters through a Community Choice Aggregation option with our local utility provider. We are proud to support this model, which is revolutionizing the accessibility of renewable energy in a more equitable way. We encourage the use of renewable energy when possible with our co-packers.
We support a circular economy that repurposes and creatively reuses materials. Our goal is to divert over 90% of discarded materials from our office headquarters and warehouse from entering the landfill. To do this, we train all Cebadores (employees) on reducing waste, reusing resources, sorting for recycling and compost, and sustainable purchasing. We are working with our co-packers to repurpose byproduct and test reusable materials.
Our ingredient and packaging components travel a long way to get to our manufacturing locations before they are transported as finished product to stores where Guayakí Yerba Mate is sold. We also have a team of Cebadores (employees) who travel the nation sharing yerba mate as well as team members who commute to our headquarters. We track the greenhouse gas emissions of these miles and have programs to lessen their climate impact.
Guayakí launched The Yerba Mate Co. to distribute Guayakí’s products to worldwide markets. The Yerba Mate Co. has a fleet of Chevy Bolts along with a goal to have a 100% fossil fuel free fleet by 2019. Guayakí is expanding its electric tricycle fleet and will have approximately 20 trikes serving Guayakí Yerba Mate at gatherings and events.
Guayakí offsets the greenhouse gas emissions from our customers’ web order shipping through the UPS Carbon Neutral Shipping program. The offsets fund carbon reduction projects such as reforestation and riparian river restoration in California, as well as wastewater biogas and landfill gas capture.
Our Regenerative Transportation Policy provides incentives for Cebadores commuting to Guayakí’s headquarters to reduce their carbon footprint. Cebadores receive Guayakí Yerba Mate Café credit for traveling to work via carpool, public transportation, bicycle, walking, or electric and hybrid vehicles.
Guayakí lowers its carbon footprint through optimizing product to packaging ratios, product pallet configurations, and product ordering. This is an ongoing process involving trucking distribution, co-packing and packaging partners.
At Guayakí we show our team a lot of love, because personal regeneration is as important to us as ecological regeneration. It starts with our conscious leaders, who have built a strong culture of purpose, respect, compassion, and fun. It’s reflected in our Cebador (employee) benefits and programs, our philanthropy and support of progressive local initiatives, and our daily business interactions.
Guayakí started with friends surfing and sharing a gourd, which nurtured a sense of connection and love of nature. Guayakí’s culture encourages global consciousness and personal responsibility. We do this through our policies and trainings and by making time and space for: mindfulness practice, yoga, indigenous rituals, expressing gratitude, annual employee trips to South America, and being of service through the sharing of yerba mate.
In order to transform an economy that drives destructive thought and behavior patterns, it is critical to recognize the intrinsic value of nature far beyond its commodity value. Until our economic paradigm values global ecosystem services, social justice, and the vast contribution of nature to human well-being, Guayakí voluntarily incorporates these values into our business model. We are helping to advance a regenerative economy.
At our headquarters in Sebastopol, California, the Guayakí Yerba Mate Café offers our local community a warm and inclusive gathering place to experience yerba mate. At the Café, folks can gather, sip mate, chat, and heal. We reach further into our community when we donate product and volunteer for nonprofits. Nearly 100% of our headquarters team gathers every quarter for community service events.
Guayakí became a founding B Corporation in 2007 and changed its corporate status to a benefit corporation, thereby protecting its mission in perpetuity. B Corp certification provides rigorous standards with which to measure Guayakí’s social and environmental responsibility against other companies, set improvement targets, demonstrate transparency, and share best practices.
Guayakí launched The Guayakí Foundation to further community development in South America. The Foundation’s programmatic work focuses on supporting vibrant communities that: encourage equal and full participation of its governance; have safe and reliable access to water, sanitation, and healthy food systems; include environmental education for children; and use their revenues to regenerate environmental and social capital.
Guayakí is committed to equitable prosperity and dignity for all people. Guided by our Diversity & Inclusion Policy, we support team diversity and a living wage for our producers and Cebadores (employees). We are always working to minimize our climate impact, which can contribute to the displacement of marginalized people with limited geographic mobility.
We recognize that our team is the heart of our business, so we stay connected in fun and meaningful ways, such as our bi-annual all-team gatherings. All new Cebadores receive a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which builds awareness around self-limiting beliefs. Our benefits, such as 100% health insurance coverage, together with programs promoting well-being, safety, sustainability education and mindfulness, reflect genuine care for our team.
We support a circular economy that repurposes resources such as packaging at the end of a product’s useful life. Nearly all Guayakí product packaging and shipping packaging can be recycled or composted, and a portion of it is made from post-consumer recycled material that’s being reused again.
Nearly all Guayakí product packaging and shipping packaging is recyclable, and a portion of it is made from post-consumer recycled materials that are getting a second life. For years we worked with manufacturers to produce our home-compostable bag, made from renewable materials and capable of turning into soil in your home compost.
Single use packaging remains the mainstay of most beverage delivery. It’s convenient, transportable and safe, but also inherently wasteful. As an alternative, we cultivate less waste through selling reusable gourds and loose leaf yerba mate in home-compostable bags.
We actively engage in sustainable packaging coalitions to support the advancement of sustainable packaging technologies, advocacy around municipalities’ treatment of compostable material, and the education of consumers around recycling.
Guayakí has a Regeneration Policy to guide Cebadores (employees) in the purchase of environmentally-preferred packaging and supplies. The Policy’s six mandates, along with suggested practices exemplifying the mandates in action, help our team in their daily decision making.