As consumers have become more environmentally conscious, opportunities for green businesses have grown. Women entrepreneurs, in particular, are encouraged to explore green ways of doing business.
Women often take the planet's health more seriously than men. They are concerned with raising their children without harmful pesticides in their food, and they want other products that they use to be ethically made and with concern for the environment.
Organic food, clothing, cleaning products, and personal care products like makeup have all become successful over the past several years as consumers realized just how much damage their favorite products could cause. Using conventional products could also be associated with serious health problems.
Organic products are made using mechanical, biological, and cultural practices that promote ecological balance, support resource cycling, and conserve the biodiversity of our planet. Today, many consumers are concerned with their health and the health of our world. They turn to organic products in hopes that they are produced ethically and without serious health impacts.
The founder of Organic Bunny Amanda Jo shares four things that women entrepreneurs should know about the organic industry and how they can enter it.
Organic products are grown, raised, or manufactured according to a strict set of environmental and health standards. Organic farmers must raise their animals without the use of artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Also, organic farmers need to provide their animals with organic feed and cage-free living conditions.
In order to carry the USDA Organic seal, a product must have at least 95 percent organic ingredients, excluding salt and water. Up to 5 percent of the product's ingredients may be nonorganic.
When a product is certified organic, the consumer can be reassured that no chemical fertilizers or sewage sludge have been used. Products are not irradiated, and genetic engineering is not allowed.
In addition to the standard USDA organic label, there are a variety of levels of classification. Under the 100 percent organic label, there is no exception for 5 percent inorganic ingredients. If the label says "made with" organic ingredients, 70 percent of the ingredients must be organic.
If there are non-organic ingredients present, they must be included on the National List. This includes products like baking soda and yogurt enzymes. Salt and water are also exempted.
The "specific organic ingredients" label means that products cannot carry the USDA seal, but they can include the organic designation in their ingredients list.
The process of getting an organic label for your product is difficult and expensive. For this reason, many small, family-run farms that follow organic practices may not be able to acquire USDA certification.
According to the USDA, the first step in receiving organic certification is developing an organic system plan. This plan details how a farm or manufacturing facility will comply with organic regulations. These plans cover every aspect of production, including grazing, storing, and harvesting.
The next step is to have the plan reviewed by a certifying agent. The agents that validate organic certification may be private or public. It is possible to have a product that is made in another country certified as USDA organic as well.
Next, the production facility must be inspected. All aspects of growing, harvesting, and caring for plants and animals must be examined in detail. Certifiers inspect the health of crops, the soil conditions, weed and insect management strategies, and the safety of irrigation systems. For livestock, the certifier must look at health records, feed, living conditions, and the condition of the animals.
The next step is to have the inspector bring the report to the certifying agent. The inspector completes their report by checking on whether there is any potential for cross-contamination.
Finally, a decision is reached by the certifier. The process must be repeated once per year for certification to be maintained.
Consumers of organic products are generally willing to pay a premium price. Though the cost of organic certification is high and the costs for raising the plants or animals could also be higher than conventional farming, the possible profit margin is greater.
Organic products appeal to a segment of the population that is concerned about their impact on the planet as a whole. Customers who buy organic consider themselves to be stewards of the earth and reward producers that make high-quality food and other products.
The founder of Organic Bunny Amanda Jo encourages women entrepreneurs to consider going organic. When a business goes organic, the employees can feel good about their impact on the planet, and traditional farming methods are preserved.
Women are concerned with keeping the planet green and working to create more organic products helps this movement grow.
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