Good and clean

Sound Consumer September 2017 | by Marilyn Walls, M.S.

aaron and kim otto moonvalley

Owners Aaron and Kim Otto show off their new pollinator garden plot.

Is your soap made with 70 percent organic ingredients? Made by a local company with more than 100 beehives? Is the company a B Corp? Is the palm oil from a traceable source approved by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)? Do you get all this and more for only $3? If you’re using the PCC-brand bar soap, then the answer is a resounding yes!

Terry DeBlasio faced a challenge after she became the PCC health and body care merchandiser. The PCC private-label bar soaps at that time had no wrappers and the soap scents were a problem for many fragrance-sensitive customers. Terry decided that customer discontent represented an opportunity to improve the PCC brand and began to look for a local company to make bar soap exclusively for PCC. She wanted synergy and shared values. The difficulty would be to keep the soap affordable while adding a compostable wrapper.

Good value became the driving force for finding such a partner. “As a co-op we have a responsibility to provide a product within reach, cost-wise, for as many of our customers as possible. Customers needed a soap with a lower price point and PCC wanted to decrease our carbon footprint,” explains DeBlasio.

What does value mean to DeBlasio? “Very good quality, a fair price point based on that quality, and a product I would want to use myself.”

pcc body care staff visit

PCC body care staff visit Moon Valley in Deming, Washington in early August.

Enter Moon Valley Organics, owned by Kim and Aaron Otto. Their beautiful farm in Deming, Washington, is nestled beneath Mt. Baker among other family farms and pristine wilderness. Moon Valley, says DeBlasio, “was doing everything right.” Moon Valley is certified organic; it is a B Corp, a for-profit company certified because of its social and environmental actions; and its 15 or so employees work as beekeepers, sustainable farmers, or with the creation of products.

What Moon Valley staff doesn’t grow for products is sourced from local organic farms and suppliers that support fair trade and the Rainforest Action Network. These lovingly grown ingredients then are dried, processed and packaged on the Moon Valley farm.

PCC has carried Moon Valley’s non-soap products including lotion melts, lip balms, foaming hand soaps, and healing balms since 2006. When tasked with developing an exclusive soap for PCC, Moon Valley tested batches with various scent profiles, then covered them in compostable wrappers using no glue. PCC bar soaps were born.

Palm oil

Reading the ingredients of PCC bar soap, some may hesitate at palm oil. As Kim explains, “We understand that palm oil is a touchy subject but if it’s farmed sustainably, that can be better than replacing it with another ingredient that would be depleted as well.”

moonvalley organics bee on flower

A honeybee pollinates fresh mint at Moon Valley Farm in Deming.

In order to protect against the issues surrounding palm oil, Moon Valley works with a “trusted supplier,” Ciranda, that goes above and beyond RSPO standards. Ciranda’s palm oil offers true traceability. The name Ciranda comes from a Brazilian folk dance where everyone is invited to dance together in a circle, symbolizing the Ciranda goal to work together for the benefit of all. In the selection of palm oil, this is accomplished during in-person visits to suppliers around the world when quality, fair labor practices, and environmental health are evaluated from the field to the processing plant.

Ciranda claims the highest certification by RSPO, Identity Preserved (IP), which ensures that Ciranda’s palm oil is kept separate throughout the entire supply chain. These palm products also are produced with IBD EcoSocial fair trade certification, which combines organic, economic, social and environmental criteria into one verification program.

EcoSocial certification guarantees such important standards as traceable land ownership, no contamination of rivers, and no hunting, capture or trade of wild animals. “We have to pay a premium price but to us, the quality is worth it,” Kim said.

It’s understandable that DeBlasio raves about Moon Valley being a great partner. Moon Valley gives PCC excellent customer service and has been “super helpful” in every step of creating this partnership. The result is that PCC delivers to our customers a beautiful bar of soap with organic, ethically sourced ingredients.

Kim Otto believes that partnering with PCC gives Moon Valley credibility with customers who realize that Moon Valley meets PCC’s standards in body care products, possibly the highest in the industry. “It gives us pride,” she says, “to be working with our favorite co-op in the whole wide world.”

Marilyn Walls, M.S., is a nutrition educator at PCC.

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