We started Nú Infusions first and foremost because we loved the taste and even more so the effect of guayusa. And we love getting more and more people (like you!) to discover it. But the more we read about where guayusa comes from, how it’s grown and what its cultural history is, the more interested we became in how it could not only benefit those who drink it, but also those who grow it as well as the ecosystems it’s grown in.
Inspired by this bigger picture, we’re setting out three commitments we are making as a brand, which relate to the communities we source from as well as the ecosystems they harvest from.
1. Indigenous Land Rights
Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples to protect and maintain lands that they have inhabited for centuries is not only the right thing to do for their sake, it’s also something that the rest of the world stands to benefit from.
According to the UN, maintaining land under the guidance of indigenous communities is one of the most effective ways of combating climate change, due to the skilled way in which indigenous groups typically integrate their needs with the needs of nature.
At the same time, guayusa is really a gift of the rainforest and the indigenous peoples who have cultivated it for centuries, and so it only seems right to recognise that.
That’s why we are committed to donating 1% of our revenues to Amazon Frontlines, a non-profit dedicated to defending indigenous rights to land, life and cultural survival in the Amazon rainforest. The more we learn about the challenges facing indigenous communities and the solutions they hold for modern issues, the more value we realise in this cause. You can read more about AF’s great work on their website or social media channels.
We chose to donate based on revenues rather than profits, as we want you to know that with each purchase of our products, you are making a direct contribution to this great cause, regardless of our profitability that year.
2. Fair Supply Chains
The guayusa industry is in its early stages, which means we can more easily set new standards in pay for farming families, without the colonial hangovers that keep down prices for farmers of commodities like coffee and chocolate.
We have chosen to work with a company who sources and processes (dries and then crushes) guayusa leaves from over 100 indigenous smallholder farming families, each of whom are paid 15% above the Fairtrade rate for their produce. This increases their income available for things like education and healthcare, while setting new and higher standards of pay for farmers, and promoting indigenous methods of agriculture.
3. Sustainable Agriculture
80% of tropical deforestation occurs as a result of agriculture. This is in large part due to the industrial and insensitive approach that modern agriculture takes to nature – delicately balanced ecosystems brimming with biodiversity are slashed and burned and replaced by rows and rows of mono-crops such as palm trees, or even green tea (mostly in Asia) or coffee (mostly in Africa or South America). Because of this disturbance of the natural balance, pesticides and inorganic fertilisers are needed to keep crops alive, bringing about negative impacts not only on the health of the consumer, but also on the soils in which these crops are grown, as well as nearby waterways. It’s clear that a major shift towards more sustainable forms of agriculture is needed, especially in tropical regions such as the Amazon.
Fortunately, indigenous peoples in the Amazon have been practising and perfecting sustainable agricultural systems for millenia, long before modern agricultural practices became the norm. The smallholder farming families from whom we source our guayusa are part of an indigenous community known as the Kichwa. Over centuries of living in the region, they have developed farming systems known as “chacras” (like the yoga word, but as far as we can tell that’s just a coincidence!).
In a chacra system, multiple crops (such as guayusa, cacao, plantains, lemongrass) are grown together in a way that mimics the natural beauty and biodiversity of a rainforest ecosystem. It is essentially a way of managing a rainforest so that it produces a bit more of what humans need, without reducing it to just one crop and throwing the whole thing out of balance. The result is greater biodiversity, healthier soils, and even tastier crops – because healthier soil means healthier plants!