At UMA, We’re Committed to a Sustainable Future—and Here’s How
Sustainability is a word that we see all around us, used by fashion, wellness and beauty brands and environmental justice organizations alike. Given how commonly the term is invoked, it can be hard to know what sustainability really means—both on a large scale and in individual contexts.
One of the most commonly cited definitions of sustainability is that of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, which states, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This development is both economic and environmental, working to redress global economic inequity and to combat the negative effects of industrial development and climate change. It is also first and foremost centered on promoting the long-term wellbeing of life, both human and nonhuman, on this planet.
As consumers, many of us want to make a statement with our practices by supporting businesses that are sustainable. However, a lot of the time there isn’t too much transparency around what being sustainable means: Is this brand sourcing and producing materials using sustainable production practices? Do they give fair wages and benefits to their employees? Do they give back to the communities in which they are based? It is important and necessary that this information is made available, and that we seek it out, in order to make the most informed decisions.
At UMA, we are committed to sustainability on multiple fronts, both in terms of economic vitality and the sustainability of our farming and production practices. Here’s how we have and will continue to promote a vision of sustainable beauty and wellness—in concrete terms.
Quality over quantity: We farm our botanicals with patience and care.
At UMA, all of the organic botanicals that make up our carefully-crafted formulas are farmed on the UMA estate in central India, whose 100-acre meadow is rich with nutritious soil. Our farm’s caretakers meticulously and thoroughly select the highest-quality seeds, and from planting to harvest our crops are given attentive care. Furthermore, each plant is only harvested up to two times before re-planting, ensuring that we are not only extracting the finest ingredients, but also that we are honoring the life of these plants —not exploiting them or over-extracting from the environment.
These practices take time and individualized effort; they’re not mass-farmed, nor are they optimized for the fastest and highest output. The quality of the results have set us apart from other producers, which is why we’ve been chosen as the supplier of organic oils to brands like Tom Ford and Estée Lauder. We prioritize quality over quantity or speed, caring for each plant so that it yields the most high-impact, effective botanicals in a way that respects and sustains the environment.
Combating the gender gap: We promote gender equality in the workforce.
Attaining financial autonomy is a crucial step in empowering and promoting women’s independence from abusive domestic situations, unfair workplace expectations, difficult childcare duties and more. Especially given that we are based in India, where, especially in the agriculture industry, significant gender-based pay gaps are the norm, here at UMA we take several steps to promote women’s financial autonomy.
First, over half of our employees are women, and they are paid commensurately with their male counterparts.
Second, we offer additional benefits like childcare services, education programs and generous pension plans so that our employees can have the foundational tools that are necessary to establish financial independence.
Third, we promote female artisanship throughout our products. Even our reusable packaging is hand-sewn and embroidered by our female artisans in India.
Beyond the brand: We reinvest in our local community.
For us at UMA, sustainability extends beyond our internal production and labor practices. We recognize that we operate our farms and distilleries within a rural community in central India, and that we have a responsibility to give back to that community.
On average, we reinvest one-third of our annual profits into our local community. This takes many forms: we operate a free health clinic, we provide resources for treating the common genetic blood disorder Thalasemmia, we offer academic scholarships for students that enable them to pursue higher education and more. By investing in the community, we can make sure that our practices are not only internally sustainable, but that we can operate alongside the community in mutual harmony and growth.
Truly clean beauty: We avoid pesticides and repurpose waste.
As we’ve already mentioned, our farming practices are slow, loving and sustainable. We further promote the production of high-quality, effective botanicals by not using pesticides or synthetic additives. In addition, we repurpose much of our waste for other products, like incense, or as fuel for our distilleries.
For us, sustainability is not an abstract, lofty ideal or a hazy concept—it requires a set of concrete practices that aim to promote economic, environmental and human equity in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. We believe that we can truly make an impact that begins locally and extends globally. Here at UMA, sustainability is a priority and an ongoing practice: we are constantly striving to understand our own place in the environment and to improve our practices for a more livable, harmonious future.