Sustainability and the IASC
By Jeff Barrie, Aloecorp
There is clear evidence that our world has entered a perilous time and we all need to do our share to protect our fragile environment. The International Aloe Science Council recognizes the need for sustainability and is encouraging its members to take action now. Merriam-Webster defines sustainability as 1: capable of being sustained; 2a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged; 2b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.
Sustainability is much more than a “method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” That is the simple definition but, sustainability needs to be a movement; a process and commitment to protect the Earth. In the year 2021 and beyond, sustainability refers to the capacity for the Earth and humans to co-exist. It also means a process of people maintaining the change in an environment, in which the use of resources, how investments are made, technological development, and corporate and government changes are all in balance and enhance today's and future human needs and aspirations.
The 1987 UN Brundtland Commission tried to clarify the definition of sustainability as “the ability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Without any practical guidelines to meet this goal, the commission did not provide a way to proceed for supplement and food suppliers and manufacturers. This tough journey of interpreting what the public wants and responding to their customers is a huge part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. Consumers may be skeptical when changes are made when so many are thinking climate change is a hoax.
Transparency and sustainability should be independent of each other, but have become married as corporate social responsibility continues to be more of an issue to savvy consumers and particularly to the increasing number of consumers who are in tune with their health.
While IASC Certification is a guarantee that the aloe vera consumers are buying is high quality, and without adulteration or misrepresentation, it cannot guarantee how that aloe vera was farmed, processed, packaged and got to the marketplace.
Many consumer groups are wanting more knowledge regarding the supply chain of the ingredients in their supplements, beverages and food; millennials are playing a huge role. They want to know where the product originated, how it was produced, and the amount of processing that was required. Interest in the packaging used is another issue being asked and whether the materials for packaging were from sustainable and/or renewable resources.
A number of good policies have emerged under the term sustainability. Companies must think globally and be intentional about sustainability, partnering with staff, simple water and energy conservation, sustainable and environmentally friendly supply chain partners, recycling programs, gaining knowledge about the impact of chemicals on our environment, using energy efficient products and developing work policies and habits that are focused on sustainability. These are just some ways to achieve sustainability.
The challenge to sustain the environment is overwhelming, but if everyone from giant corporations to individuals will do its part, we will protect and conserve our planet… our home.
Third-party groups are meeting the demand with organizations like the Union for Ethical Biotrade, Avieco, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and third-party verifiers like Intertek are just a few companies eager to support and verify that sustainable practices are being followed.
The IASC invites its members to consider the incorporation of sustainable farming, processing, and overall business procedures in anticipation of consumer interest in these practices. The IASC also recommends its members to have third party verification of their practices and policies as a means of providing transparency to consumers.