A DECISION TO
In November 2003, Aveda announced
the discontinuation of its Indigenous product line as well as its
intention to abandon the Indigenous trademark. The Indigenous collection
contained three SKUs (a hair and body cleanser, massage oil and
aroma candle), which ceased production immediately. The decision
was reached following a meeting among
representatives of several indigenous nations of the Americas and
representatives of Aveda.
We are discontinuing the Indigenous product line to demonstrate
our ongoing support and respect for indigenous peoples in their
efforts to protect their traditional knowledge and resources,
explained Conseil. Aveda will discontinue marketing any products
under the Indigenous trademark and, to emphasize its respect, will
begin the formalities necessary to abandon any rights it may have
in this trademark.
With this action, Aveda hopes to stand in solidarity with indigenous
peoples in their quest for recognition of intellectual property
rights in their traditional wisdom. Indigenous peoples are considered
the stewards of much of the worlds biodiversity.
It was an emotional decision, Conseil acknowledged.
It was an emotion that was in
sympathy with indigenous people. And it was emotional as a manufacturer
to discontinue a beautiful line that people liked and was growing
nicely. But when we met with indigenous
leaders, they made me realize how important respect is, how important
intellectual property rights are for their future. I didnt
think in my mind how many millions of dollars this business represents
because it was bigger than that.
The problem of sustainability cannot be solved so much by
governments signing protocols, but it can be changed by people individually
changing their way of thinking and becoming emotionally connected
to nature, Conseil added. We have a place in natureits
an equilibrium. Yes, the universe wants us to grow, to feed more
people who need food, etc., and its perfectly in line with
the universe as it intends, but not at the expense of other species
and destroying what sustains us in the first place.
The Aveda Indigenous line was originally introduced to connect the
modern consumer to the timeless wisdom and values of indigenous
peoples. Avedas intent was to raise awareness about the beauty
of their sustainable lifestyles, and to generate funding for key
indigenous programs through sales of these products.
Aveda remains committed to its indigenous partnerships, says Conseil,
and will continue
to seek the guidance and knowledge of these wisdom-keepers.
THE POWER OF PLANTS
Approximately 60 million Americans believe
in the power of herbs to promote well-being and currently use some
form of medicinal plant to prevent or treat a variety of physical
or emotional conditions ranging from a weak immune system to depression
to weight loss. But at the root of these healing plants is a consequence
often imperceptible to consumers. According to the International
World Conservation Union, one out of every eight known plant species
on Earth is threatened with extinction. In the U.S. alone, about
29 percent of the medicinal plant species currently used by Americans
are at risk.
Concern for this threat brought Native American elders to partner
with international conservationists and government agencies last
October in Philadelphia, PA, for the second annual Industrial Leadership
for the Preservation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Symposium.
The gathering signaled the second time in U.S. history that pharmaceutical,
beauty, vitamin and herbal manufacturers along with Native Americans,
conservationists, botanists, farmers and government officials met
to discuss the survival of wild plants used in popular herbal remedies
and perfumes. The two-day symposium, hosted by the Medicinal Plants
Working Group (MPWG) and the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA),
facilitates the sharing of information about this critical conservation
issue and open lines of communication throughout industry and public
and private sectors.
Founded in 2002, the symposium is supported by groups such as American
Botanical Council, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA),
USAID, the Steven Foster Group and Aveda.
Aveda stakes its long-term business plan on the lifecycle
of plants, says Conseil. To ensure the success of Aveda
and other companies using plant materials, a new paradigm for sustainability
must be developed.
Some people wonder how Aveda can strive for natural products
and also be
environmentally sensitivesometimes that doesnt go hand-in-hand.
Lets be very honest. If everyone started to make products
like us, without a concern for sustainability, were going
to harm plants like never before. Many plants are in danger in America
because of industries that use plantsfood supplements, plant
products and people like us, which is why we recognize our responsibility
to preserve plantsbecause we use them.
Recognizing the need for guidance from indigenous elders is also
a main focus of the
symposium. Historically, Native Americans have used nearly 3,000
different plants as medicine. Their knowledge of these plants helped
early Appalachian settlers survive in a strange new land and now
American ginseng, goldenseal root and echinacea along with many
others, have become best-selling commodities in the marketplace.
The loss of our native medicinal plants is a tragedy we live
with daily, says Tis Mal Crow, Cherokee, Hitchiti Elder and
root doctor. Plants that our grandfathers grandfathers
respected and protected for future generations are no longer available
to us. Until we see industry treating the plant kingdom with respect
can we as indigenous healers treat industry with respectand
work to heal the wounds that have occurred over centuries.