In this Blog post, we talked to Terese Hoffeldt, the CEO and founder of HEVEA, about her experience building a sustainable brand. Hevea develops playful, non-toxic and plastic-free, environmentally-friendly toys – great for children and great for the planet.
Within the most hectic week of my life, I had my first child and lost my mum during a week in March in 2007. It was the biggest joy and the biggest sorrow combined and mixed, which led to think about what I wanted to spend my life upon and what kind of legacy I wanted to leave for the next generations.
Becoming mother to Augusta and losing my mother at the same time meant I obviously had a lot on my mind. My husband and I needed to provide our daughter with a pacifier but were only able to find pacifiers made from plastic, silicone or similar petroleum-based substances or wrapped in plastic. As I wanted to do better than plastic, and was searching for environmentally friendly products, I got the idea to design a pacifier from natural rubber, which is a plant based, biodegradable, compostable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly material.
Since the start of HEVEA, we’ve continuously developed innovative products for babies and toddlers, and sell these throughout the world (currently app 50 countries). We are most known for our pacifiers, but also make bath toys, teethers, home equipment, and now a product line for puppies and personal hygiene products (our menstrual cup, the LOOP cup).
Most recently and as the only company in the world, we’ve managed to develop products from upcycled rubber. This means that any leftover or cut out material from our natural rubber production is reused to make new upcycled products. Instead of throwing away the material, we’re giving it new life and thereby minimizing waste. Making our existing sustainable product portfolio even more sustainable! That’s what we proudly call “From trash to treasure”
Some examples of baby products that HEVEA developed:
In my opinion, sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It impacts all part of our lives and society as a whole and this is why no one can decide to not have an opinion about how we all can be even more sustainable.
This is a huge question. Sustainability is essential to everything we do at HEVEA. We have a set number of requirements, which our suppliers must meet. Obviously, this relates to the products, which must be of the highest standard possible for the natural material, but also to how they do business, what kind of wages and benefits they must ensure for their employees, etc. We’ve developed a Code of Conduct, which they have to meet. Fortunately, this has not been difficult, as we’ve been very selective when choosing our manufactures. We have had long-term business relationships with most of them, and I expect this continue.
As for the natural rubber we use, it is a more sustainable material than most of other types of materials on the market. Natural rubber is made from the sap from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree. It is a plant based and renewable source which is even compostable. And as long as we are successful in moving parents away from silicone, plastic and other petrochemical materials, we contribute to the increased focus on sustainability.
Additionally, using the rubber trees while allowing for biodiversity is fantastic as a tool to protect the wildlife. The rubber trees grow for approximately 30 years. During all of this period the tree absorbs CO2 and as such contribute to the fight against global warming. After 30 years the tree dries out. Other trees have been planted, and we can harvest the older rubber tree and use the wood to make lovely rubberwood toys. That’s sustainable!
We’ve recently started a cooperation with Tree-Nation, which is an organization which plant trees around our planet. We offer all our B2C customers to plant a Rubber tree for them when they place orders on our webpage for +60 EUR or if they purchase at least one of our LOOP cups. We started this cooperation, as we wanted our customers an opportunity to get actively involved in protecting our planet. You receive a link, so you can see the tree as follow it as it grows.
We decided on planting Hevea-trees, as….well, it’s what’s closest to our hearts, and you can say it’s our love for this particular tree, which is the basis of our company.
Trees can fortunately be planted on most of our planet, but the rubber tree can only grow in tropical climates. Although the rubber we use comes from trees in Malaysia and Thailand, we follow the horrible development in the Amazon carefully. The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and it’s under huge pressure due to deforestation and an increased loss of biodiversity. I am fully aware, that impact we have on this is limited, but I just felt I had to do something additionally to assist.
We’ve made products from natural rubber for more than 12 years. As the number of HEVEA products grew, we also produce more cut-out natural rubber from the trimming of products. We’ve carefully considered how we can use this and have – together with our brilliant manufacture – developed a method, where we can give new life to it.
We basically use all the high-quality leftover or cut-out material from our natural rubber production. Instead of throwing away the material, we’re turning trash into treasure, giving it new life and thereby minimizing waste and in this way make truly positive fingerprints on the planet. It’s been such a big success, that our manufacturer has had to purchase left-over rubber from their competitors. This, obviously, makes us very proud. Currently, we are making many different products from upcycled rubber, including bath toys, swim fins and bathmats. And our customers absolutely love it!
It is a challenge we all are facing. There is a lot of green washing, where companies claim to do one thing and actually is doing something completely different. We also frequently see, how some bigger companies state how green they are, by highlighting a single product, which might actually be environmentally friendly, but then “forgetting” to inform customers about the remaining 98% of their production’s negative impact on our planet.
You can find help and guidance from some of the certifications and commitments, but it’s close to impossible for see the whole picture. Personally, I have strong faith and believe in a few of the certifications, including B Corp®, which I know is thorough and which is not a certification you can purchase.
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