natural products expo west

I am a little behind in writing this post, but I have been trying to organize my thoughts after an amazing weekend at the Natural Products Expo West, March 13 & 14.

It is always inspiring to be surrounded by innovative entrepreneurs, and it is an added bonus when said creative folk are passionate about living green! After two days on my feet, and having sampled enough organic food to feed my entire family, I left the show with renewed energy and inspiration for the launch of Zoe Organics!

So what is "natural" anyway? Who exhibits at a "natural" products expo? Whoa. The spectrum is so broad, it covers the company who incorporates some healthier, more natural ingredients into its sugary snacks, to the 100% organic body care line, contained in biodegradable packaging. I don't mean to be a pessimist, but for a group of people who are so concerned about saving the environment, there was enough waste created from all of the samples distributed throughout the show that we could have created our own mini landfill!

It doesn't take long to spy the wolf in sheep's clothing. The company who is just trying to capitalize on a hot market trend, but in all reality, doesn't know a thing about walking the walk. On the other hand, some of my favorite organizations were there, like Mountain Rose Herbs, where I purchase many of my raw ingredients, and Healthy Child, Healthy World, a non-profit organization committed to educating parents and caregivers on the negative effects of toxins.

A few of my other favorites from the show were Andina Diapers, these beautiful cotton diapers made in Peru, and my new favorite (triple certified) coffee company; Caffe Ibis.

I was interested to see how the cosmetic industry responded to what I believe is one of the biggest challenges for a "green" company: packaging. How can we eliminate the excessive waste in product packaging? Plastic bottles, tubes, jars, pots, compacts...they all end up as waste. A really fascinating man I spoke with from LivingEcho, told me that only 5% of these containers are actually recycled! I suspected the number would be low, but ONLY 5%?! I guess this shines a new light on all of these companies touting recyclable plastic. I was, however, intrigued by the invention of biodegradable packaging by Ellery West of Eco-Vision.

Finally, although there is a lot of "greenwashing" out there, the natural and organic products industries are really making steps in the right direction. There are so many hurdles for a company to overcome in greening their organization; finding cost effective alternatives, overcoming perceptions, finding the right resources, and staying current.

Without a doubt, it is an exciting and rewarding movement to be a part of.

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