Power of the People

Tea fields of Kericho

Tea fields of Kericho

In 2007, the Lipton Tea company announced its pledge to harvest tea leaves using only sustainable farming methods. The company joined forces with Rainforest Alliance, an organization dedicated to biodiversity, protecting wildlife habitats, conservation of water and soil, and the well-being of workers. The Lipton Tea estate in Kericho, Kenya, was the first estate to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance in 2007 as a model of sustainability. By 2015, Lipton pledges that all of its tea leaves around the world will come from sustainable farming and ethical systems.

For the past 55 years, Lipton’s largest teabag production facility in the U.S. has been located in Suffolk VA.  The company imports tea from 25 countries and makes 6-billion tea bags a year. In 2008, the company began an environmental campaign of their own. Plant manager Ted Narozny revealed that this was an employee driven quest for local company sustainability. Over 70 ideas poured forth leading to a gold medal award in 2009 from the governor of Virginia in cooperation with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, DuPont Corporation and Dominion Virginia.

Suffolk’s Lipton plant has been declared a Zero Landfill facility, no easy feat in this day and age. 70% of the company’s waste products is recycled or reused, 22% is composted and the final eight percent is reused. A bonus for the company’s efforts, they estimate their achievements have saved the facility a whopping $100,000 a year… which they reinvested in more energy savings in the building.

At the Garden Club of Virginia’s 52nd Annual Conservation Forum this month, Ted Narozny accepted for the Lipton facility, the club’s Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Meritorious Achievement in Conservation.  A conservation award first presented by club in 1974, it is presented to an organization, industry or an individual who is not a GCV member for outstanding work in conservation. As I listened to Mr. Narozny praise the employees of his company for their commitment to reducing the facility’s environmental impact, I was inspired by the resourcefulness and the might that individuals who join forces can generate. They’ve led Suffolk’s facility to produce the greenest tea of all.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

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