Environment

Amazon Action: Alter Eco spearheads coalition to save one of world’s vital resources

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Drought conditions caused by El Niño caused fires to spike around 2010, but regulations have curbed much of the manmade fires set to farm the land. Recent fires are reaching those levels, according to a study by National Geographic. Pic: Getty Images/gustavofrazao
Drought conditions caused by El Niño caused fires to spike around 2010, but regulations have curbed much of the manmade fires set to farm the land. Recent fires are reaching those levels, according to a study by National Geographic. Pic: Getty Images/gustavofrazao

Related tags: Sustainability, Sustainable agriculture, regenerative agriculture, Sustainable cocoa, Amazon, Brazil, Peru, Collaboration, partnership, Rainforest alliance

The eco-conscious chocolate brand gathered likeminded companies to form the Amazon Alliance, which strives to protect 4.5m trees – one for each product sold in September.

Alter Eco hopes its own efforts will save 1m trees, while the coalition as a whole has committed to protecting 3,695 acres of trees this month.

“With full-circle sustainability at the foundation of our business, we believe the time for action is now, and that there is power in numbers,”​ said CEO Mike Forbes. “Giving to non-profit organizations, changing purchase habits to avoid products contributing to Amazon deforestation like beef and soy, and supporting brands with a transparent supply chain all collectively make a difference.”

The joint program – put together in all of five days – will focus on a region in the San Martin region of eastern Peru, near the Brazilian border. Alter Eco has for a decade supported this land through a project called The Biocorredor Martin Sagrado, home to 147m trees and a ‘biodiversity hotspot.’ It protects 400k hectares of forest that have been targeted by illegal logging, gold mining and dynamite fishing, according to PUR Project, the regenerative agriculture group founded by Alter Eco cofounder Tristan Lecomte.

So far, six eco-conscious companies have joined Alter Eco on this quest, including fellow San Francisco-based food company Bread Srsly, which makes gluten-free sourdough bread, and Thrive Market, a health-focused online grocer. Others range from Gaia Herbs, a Certified B corporation dedicated to using heirloom seeds, to the Town Kitchen, a culinary youth education company.

Natural home cleaning company Grove Collaborative and self-care producer All Good round out the list of businesses supporting this cause, one built on the group mentality of 'get involved now and fine tune later,' Forbes told us.

“Taking care of our planet through reforestation and conservation has been a founding pillar of our brand from the beginning, and we cannot stand by and watch as the fires in the Amazon spread,”​ he said.

“Our mission is to help more people feel empowered to make small changes that can add up to big change for our planet.”

Collaboration increasingly seen as key to true change

As a chocolate brand (and quinoa supplier), the company was founded on a premise of environmental and societal responsibility.

This particular alliance will also partake in OSC2, or the Organic Sustainable Community, a group of companies in California and elsewhere in the world focused on natural, sustainable products made through regenerative processes. In other words, it aims to create a world in which society gives back to nature what it takes.

"There's certainly something to be said about power in numbers,"​ Forbes told ConfectioneryNews. Such collectives "can amplify the impact of your work and larger global issues...Where there is passion, there is change, and nobody – including us – can do it alone."

Together, he continued, companies "can help break through the sense of hopelessness and complexity of issues, acting as catalysts and educators for a greater movement" ​– while expanding their reach to previously inaccessible outlets or audiences.

This particular group of companies do not operate in the same circles per se, but Alter Eco sees that reality as a positive, "showing the public and people in positions of power that the issue matters to more than just one industry."

This announcement comes on the tails of other corporate commitments to collaborative efforts to curb climate change. In August, Mars Wrigley joined Danone and more than 30 other global companies at the G7 summit in the B4IG coalition – one that will bring these businesses to the same table as governments and nonprofits​ to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The Rainforest Alliance has also called for a collaborative approach​ to the raging fires in the Brazilian Amazon, and the World Cocoa Foundation will focus on such ‘Drivers of Change’​ at its annual summit in October.

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