Here’s a name worth paying attention to in the space where sustainable business practices and the non-profit sector cross. He is Joshua Scott Onysko, a 30-year-old native of Rhode Island who turned a bonding experience with his mother making organic soap into Pangea Organics, a very successful Boulder-based manufacturer of organic body and skin care products. I first learned of Onysko and Pangea Organics from a friend in Saugatuck who was as enthusastic about the company’s all natural French Rosemary with Sweet Orange facial toner as she was about the box it came in. The package contained Genovese Italian sweet basil seeds embedded in the 100 percent post-consumer moulded fibre. The compostable box is designed to be moistened and planted. Two to three months later sweet basil will sprout from the seed bed.
Not only is the idea and execution of a plantable package just totally cool, it also indicates a facile business executive who is dialed into his customers’ values, as well as global market trends. I made a couple of calls, knocked around the Internet, and discovered that Onysko, who says he never gained a formal education, even as a grade schooler, is quite the instinctive entrepreneur who knows his way around a growing business. He also views himself as an agent of social change and is using the revenue and profits of his growing $2 million, five-year-old company to build the Pangea Institute, a non-profit devoted to teaching business executives how to be more environmentally sensitive and economically sustainable.
His own company, he says, operates a 10,000 square-foot manufacturing plant that is completely wind-powered. None of his employees earn less than $12.50 an hour, and receive generous health, dental, and eyecare benefits. Pangea employees manage a 3,000 square- foot organic garden that produces food that an onsite cook turns into a daily lunchtime feast. His line of soaps and other skin and body care products, Onysko says, supports 40,000 acres of organically grown oils and other crops around the world, much of it produced by women.
The neat compostable package with embedded basil seeds was developed by UFP Technologies, a 44-year-old maker of custom packaging based in Georgetown, Massachusetts. UFP Technologies described its cutting edge package this way: “Molded Fiber, a division of UFP Technologies, manufactures the customised shells, which are made from 100% recycled paper fibres and offer a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based packaging materials. Pangea Organics recently redesigned packaging for its entire product line, and UFP Technologies provided recycled moulded fibre for a visually appealing packaging solution.”
It’s just this kind of union between a bright young entrepreneur intent on making things better, and a mainline technically savvy manufacturer willing to be inventive that is the essence of the Mode Shift we’re seeing in business, communities, and in peopleorienting their lives to respond to the powerful market forces that are reshaping the world.