March 28, 2019

We’re so proud of our products and believe in ethical business practices, and we think you should know where our ingredients are from and how they are made.

Improving people’s lives is really what it’s all about for us. The lives of our customers, the people we work with, our suppliers and their families and communities. We do this through supporting organic farming, sustainable wild-harvesting and fair trade programs. We believe that building strong, lasting relationships are better for everyone, and we're passionate about understanding exactly where our ingredients come from, how they are produced and meeting our suppliers out in the field (literally).

Today, awareness and interest in natural treatments, skin and body care are on the rise. But when we opened our first shop in Covent Garden, we were one of the few pioneers challenging the synthetic chemical approach to skin and health care that had been adopted by much of the industry, and many of the suppliers are still with us.

Our pioneering spirit has led us to achieve many ‘firsts’ along the way, including being the first to sell organic essential oils in the UK and the first to achieve Soil Association organic certification for non-food items in 1990.

In 2002 we launched the first Soil Association organic certified skincare range, and a year later were approved under Cruelty Free International’s Humane Cosmetics standards. In 2004, one of our enduringly popular products, Wild Rose Beauty Balm, was launched – a product we have just updated to include FairWild sourced rosehips from Serbia.

In 2011 we celebrated our 30th birthday by launching our Bee Lovely product range that includes a donation from every product to help save the bees, using organic beeswax from New Zealand.

 

Fairness is the key to successful business in our opinion and we work with a variety of accrediting bodies to ensure that we remain at the forefront of this in our industry. FairTrade, which applies to ingredients sourced from developing countries, FairWild, certifying a standard for the sustainable use of wild-collected ingredients, and Fair For Life, the certification standard for Fair Trade and responsible supply-chains, are all highly valued in our business and whilst it never makes it the easy option to pursue, we believe it is the right way to do business.

This women’s cooperative in Pakistan is a great example of how getting a FairTrade deal for the local growers is a real lifeline and does change lives. We get our Apricot Kernel Oil through this group.

Apricot Kernel Oil farmers in Pakistan

In Mexico, the reliance on coffee farming has been found to be a real risk with the volatility of coffee bean prices over the last few years. To help manage that FairTrade honey collecting is very important for the farmer in the Tzeltal Tzozil cooperative as it has helped to supplement their incomes and leave them less vulnerable to market swings. We use this honey in a wide range of our products.

honey farmers in Mexico

We also work with the Samburu tribe in Northern Kenya, where we source our Frankincense resin for the essential oils that we sell individually as well as using in some of our best-loved products. In 2013 we achieved the world’s first certified organic FairWild Frankincense Oil, which was the result of a long project working with the tribes in that region.

frankincense collectors in Kenya

The most important thing about this project was that it supported women, and part of our commitment to communities is to find out from them what they would find transformational for their lives, rather than imposing something that we assume would be needed. As a result of our trading with the tribe, the FairTrade premiums were voted to be used for high school fees and healthcare, so the influence of our trading with them is passed on to future generations too.

The other thing they wanted was a well to stop the women having to walk many miles every day in the scorching sun to fetch small quantities of water. Working with them we built a solar-powered well which brings fresh water into the centre of the village, with a pump that can draw up water from deep within the arid landscape – something that is particularly life- saving when there are severe droughts in the region.

The FairTrade Geranium Essential Oil is at the heart of our very popular Geranium & Orange range. The project is in Central Congo, and was started, and continues to be run, by a Congolese man called Charles. After the war Charles went back to Congo and converted his family farm to grow geranium oil, getting the geranium seedlings from Reunion, the traditional home of the best quality geranium. The project has been going for 7 years and has been Fair For Life certified since 2015. The project employs around 150-200 people and their whole families live in the villages on the land – so we are supporting the total community, not just the working adults.

geranium oil farmers in Congo

In Madagascar, we work with a plantation specialising in aromatic essential oils, which has been certified Fair For Life for 6 years. All of the oils produced are certified organic, including our Palmarosa essential oil. This is a big operation and there are several villages included in the plantation supporting around 250 families and growing this native grass which also helps boost biodiversity in an area that is dominated by cocoa plantations.

palmarosa farmer madagascar

We choose to tread lightly upon the Earth, and we were the world’s first Carbon Neutral approved high street retailer, which is quite an honour given the fact that the CarbonNeutral Company works with over 350 businesses in over 35 countries.

Back in Madagascar, we have another project called the Makira Project. This is focused on protecting their primal forest environment and is teaching villagers about sustainable farming, setting up fish farms and even getting them involved in the increasingly popular eco-tourism industry. The most important thing is that the forest remains for their children. No project would mean no forest – it really is that simple.

makira forest madagascar

Choosing to build an ethically sound business is not the easy choice, but it is in many ways the only choice. We are working towards changing the world ‘one blue bottle at a time’.

 Neal's Yard Remedies - Feel the Love


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