The “Company Profile” is an Earth911.com series highlighting consumer goods and services making a difference through product stewardship and recycling. Products and services featured do not pay for placement and are not endorsed by Earth911.com.
Pangea Organics, founded in 2001, is trying to do much more than sell soap. The company, which began in 31 year-old Joshua Onysko’s garage, has expanded to include bodycare products like lotion, lip balm, shower gel and moisturizer. Today, their line of organic skin care comprises a multi-million dollar business.
Despite its exponential growth, the company has stuck to its goal of being “ecocentric,” producing products that are “always beneficial, never artificial.” Earth911 recently spoke with Onysko to hear how he is attempting to shift the business paradigm, one bar of soap at a time.
From the Garage to the Gourmet Aisle
Once Onysko decided to pursue his soap-making endeavor, he moved to Boulder, Colo., landed a job at Whole Foods, and began making soap in his off-hours. As the company has expanded, so have their product offerings, but Onysko has been unwavering in a his commitment to producing goods that carry the increasingly familiar trade monikers of organic, non-toxic, handcrafted and cruelty-free. Pangea also strives to educate consumers about the impact of their purchasing choices. According to Onysko, “what we consume today directly impacts how we – and future generations – will live tomorrow.”
High Quality/Low Impact
From the production process to the inevitable waste stream generated throughout a product’s lifecycle, Pangea strives to be as sustainable as possible. To that end, they have begun to sell many of their products in recycled cardboard packaging embedded with seeds. These boxes can be planted, and a few weeks later, the box will biodegrade and herbs will emerge. These types of innovations are ones that Onysko hopes will be embraced by the business community at large, not just in “green” or “eco-friendly” sectors. He explains, “the best product we sell is knowledge. We have created a company that is thriving proof that sustainable ideals and philosophies can not only be utilized but can also be fruitful.”
Changing the World in Herbal Scents Too
Onysko credits much of the company’s success to the fact that as awareness grows around issues such as depletion of resources, pollution and waste associated with many conventional production processes, truly eco-friendly and socially responsible products are in increasingly higher demand. He says, “I think the concept of a company like Pangea has been in the making of the minds of the consumers for a long time. People inherently want to do the right thing. Our best selling product is information. Pangea always takes the time to teach and not preach the processes that go into creating the brand.”
Planting the Seed of Sustainability
Pangea uses post-consumer re-grind for their packaging, as well as boxes made of a 100 percent post-consumer recycled newspaper. By February, Pangea plans to pack their entire product line in 100 percent post-consumer containers. Of course, the company also encourages consumers to recycle (or plant!) the packaging associated with their products.
Spreading the Word to Businesses Large and Small
Onysko has spent a lot of time visiting other companies and speaking with CEOs and business leaders, who are also trying to implement innovative environmental initiatives. Lately, this has been his favorite part of the job because of the potential for these types of conversations to effect widespread change. “Much of the future is determined by the companies that create the products that we buy,” Onysko says, “it is important to know that the future is not proprietary; rather, the future belongs to everybody.”
Education and Expansion
Pangea is committed to continuing to teach both consumers and corporations about the power of their decisions and their dollar. To that end, the company has started the Pangea Institute, a non-profit funded by Pangea Organics “dedicated to researching and teaching all aspects of sustainable living and business practices.” Onysko also hopes that Pangea will someday be completely “vertically integrated,” meaning that “the entire supply and delivery chain has the same ethics as the company, and Pangea would manufacture, produce, fabricate and sell everything we make.”
Favorite of the Three R’s
Despite the fact that Onysko is a businessman, he is still a fan of reduction. His explanation is simple: “Regardless of the ‘eco’ products we buy, they all still take resources and energy to produce. When we buy less, we have more money to spend on truly sustainable products.”