World Environment Day may be June 5, Honest Tea does things to help the earth year round.

Honest Tea is the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea company with a mission to make great-tasting, truly healthy organic beverages sweetened with less sugar and fewer calories than most bottled beverages. Honest Tea’s product lines include: Honest Tea ready-to-drink bottled teas in glass and PET #1 bottles, Honest Ade organic thirst quenchers and Honest Kids drink pouches. All varieties are USDA-certified organic and by the end of March 2011, all teas became Fair Trade Certified™.

Since Honest Tea was founded in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998, the company has sustained an annual compound growth rate of more than 60%. Honest Tea has been continuously recognized for its impressive growth and mission-driven business practices. In addition to being named one of The Better World Shopping Guide’s “Ten Best Companies on the Planet based on their overall social and environmental record,” Honest Tea was also listed as one of’s “Top 7 Green Corporations of 2010,” received’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating as “the greenest beverage company” for the third year in a row and was recently ranked by The Huffington Post as one of the leading “8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies.”

Small Version of the History

People had always told Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea, that he drank a lot of liquids. An active person, Seth Goldman was continually in search of the perfect drink to quench his thirst after a run, a game of basketball or between grad school classes. Yet, Seth found most drinks either too sweet or too tasteless.

Barry Nalebuff, one of Seth’s business school professors, found that he and Seth shared a passion for the idea of a less sweet, but flavorful beverage during a class discussion that involved a Coke vs. Pepsi case study. They agreed that there were tons of sugary sweet options and lots of new waters, but there was nothing in between to fill the void.

Fast forward to ’97, Seth goes for a run in New York City with an old classmate, nicknamed Juice Master Zeus, who used to concoct juice drinks with him after class. They found themselves doing the same after the run, combining several different beverages to cut the sweet and intensify the flavor. Seth knew then that if he was going to quench his thirst for good, he would have to create the drink himself. He e-mailed Barry to see if he was still as excited about the idea as he had been in class.

Timing was everything. Barry had just returned from India where he had been analyzing the tea industry for a case study. Among other things, he learned that most of the tea purchased for bottling by American companies was the lower quality dust and fannings left after quality tea had been produced. Barry had even come up with a name to describe a bottled tea that was made with real tea leaves – Honest Tea. When Seth heard the name, the bells started ringing – it was the perfect name to fit an all-natural brand that would strive to create healthy and honest relationships with its customers, suppliers and the environment.

Seth took a deep breath, quit his job at the Calvert Group, and started brewing batches of tea in his kitchen. Five weeks after taking the plunge, he brought thermoses of tea and a bottle with a mock-up label to Fresh Fields (Whole Foods Markets). During that meeting, the order came for 15,000 bottles, and so did the heavy pause as Seth’s mind raced, trying to figure out how they would produce that much tea. They were, at that moment, in the tea business. Honest.

That was over 13 years ago. Today, Honest Tea can be found in glass bottles, plastic bottles, barely sweetened, or even ‘a tad sweet’ in tens of thousands of stores across the US. The company has applied its passion for social responsibility to initiatives in the environment and to creating partnerships with the growers, cultures, and communities behind the teas.

In 2009 they continued to push the envelope of sustainability by introducing a new plastic bottle that is 22 percent lighter, conserving over a million pounds of packaging material from the production line each year. The first few tries weren’t perfect, as we dealt with dented bottles and puzzled consumers. We were awarded’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating “the greenest beverage company” and partnered with the Sierra Club for a national marketing program. We launched two new Honest Kids varieties, Super Fruit Punch and Appley Ever After, which earned its name from an online contest inviting kids to submit imaginative names online. They launched Honest Kombucha an innovative line with active probiotic cultures that promote digestive health. Additionally, they introduced Mango Green Tea, and expanded our mate offerings by creating Honest Mate, with two new varieties:

Agave Mate and Tropical Mate.

With their support, Bethesda Green cuts the vine on a new green business incubator down the street from our headquarters. Sales hit $47 million.

Fair Trade Certified

In 2003, Honest Tea launched the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ bottled tea in the U.S. with its introduction of Peach Oo-la-long. Since then, the company has continued to expand its Fair Trade offerings. Over the past three years, Honest Tea expanded its Fair Trade offerings from seven to 19 varieties and with this new initiative, all 28 of its teas became Fair Trade Certified™ in December 2010.

“After water, tea is the most consumed beverage worldwide. We’re excited to expand our commitment to Fair Trade as a way to help ensure the people who are picking and processing our tea leaves are earning a fair wage in third-party monitored working conditions,” said Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO of Honest Tea.

“Honest Tea is once again raising the bar for the entire industry. Honest Tea has been a pioneer in social responsibility from the beginning, so this decision is a natural, authentic progression in the company’s history,” said Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “This expansion makes the statement that sustainability and empowerment in the developing world matter to Honest Tea, and that they care about the workers who harvest their tea and the future of their communities.

Their line of PET bottles are 22 percent lighter and still recyclable. They require less energy to produce and use less fuel to ship which saves natural resources.

Working For The Earth

Jeopardized habitats. Impacted watersheds. And hundreds of thousands of acres of rich, natural beauty destroyed.

It doesn’t always take a wildfire; invasive species and over development have taken their toll on areas once carpeted with forest. But in a region near you, renewal is taking place. In partnership with the National Forest Foundation, you can plant a tree in a critically affected area.


The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a fascinating and unique ecosystem located just one hour from Chicago. This former Department of Defense site has long been used for agricultural purposes but is slowly being restored to native tallgrass prairie. More than 100 songbirds, deer, waterfowl, and hundreds of native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and other plants are finding new homes in the restored landscape. Help them find new space by selecting the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

In June of 2002, the perfect conditions for a devastating fire converged in the forests near Denver, Colorado. For 20 days, the Hayman Fire raged through the Pike National Forest, burning a total of 137,760 acres including state and private lands. In its wake, the fire consumed 600 structures, jeopardized habitat for numerous threatened or endangered species, and severely impacted the water source for more than 75% of Colorado’s 5 million residents as well as states downstream. Join our effort to restore the watershed, the forest, and the recreational center for more than 4 million residents and millions more visitors to Colorado’s Pike National Forest.

The mission of the Bag To Tree Program is to reforest regions hit by wildfires and disasters. While our program goes across the country, it really starts in your neighborhood as you contribute to local causes leading efforts to reforest.
Why Trees?
THEY PRODUCE OXYGEN. REDUCE AIR POLLUTION. AND PROVIDE STORM WATER CONTROL. In short, trees are imperative to our very way of life. Each year, 100 trees remove two tons of carbon dioxide as well as 1,000 pounds of pollutants, including 400 pounds of ozone and 300 pounds of particulates. And that’s not all.

Trees Absorbs Greenhouse Gases

Trees are sponges, constantly absorbing and storing carbon dioxide aiding mankind in our fight against greenhouse gases. Throughout its life cycle a tree, will develop the ability to accumulate carbon dioxide, thus reducing the amount in our atmosphere, and therefore, slowing global climate change. In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.

Trees Produce Oxygen

Acting as not only a producer of oxygen, a tree also has the ability to filter the air we breathe. One, mature leafy tree will produce as much oxygen in one season as 10 people inhale in a year.

Trees Clean the Soil

Trees gather harmful pollutants that navigate their way into our soil, and have the ability to transform those chemicals into less harmful forms. They also act as filters for sewage and animal waste, and in turn, provide clean water runoff for our streams.

Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff

Trees reduce storm water runoff by intercepting rainwater on leaves, branches, and trunk, deterring erosion, flooding, and water pollution.

Trees Provide Shade

Like giant umbrellas, trees shade urban environments and reduce temperatures in these populated areas, which due to the lack of natural elements can be as much as 10 degrees warmer.

Trees Act as Windbreaks

During windy and cold seasons, like in Chicago, trees can act as windbreaks. A windbreak can lower home heating bills up to 30%! A reduction in wind can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place.

Sources: EPA, Honest Tea and Hidaya Foundation

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