TRU Organic Spirits is putting the friendly back in environmentally friendly. Not only are its lemon- and vanilla-infused vodkas and their aromatic gin completely certified USDA organic, but the Monrovia, California-based company plants at least one seedling in Central America (through its nonprofit partner Sustainable Harvest) for every bottle sold—that's 50,000 last year.
TRU commissioned an independent report, to be released next week, showing that each tree planted has the potential to absorb 790 square kilos of carbon dioxide, whereas the carbon footprint of each bottle in its relatively lightweight packaging is merely 1.04 square kilos—making the product an eye-popping 760 times carbon negative!
At that rate, a single glass would be enough to offset your carbon footprint for a day. At the upscale hotels (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott) and restaurants where TRU is mainly sold, the company distributes certificates showing how many trees the patrons have planted so far that year—a virtuous selling point that may make a $12 vodka tonic easier to swallow.
Of course, these carbon calculations are tricky. Those numbers assume each new tree lives out a full 50-year lifespan and isn't chopped down or burned by ranchers and farmers in Belize or Honduras. But I'm inclined to give co-founder Melkon Khosrovian, who dropped by Fast Company's offices on Tuesday, the benefit of the doubt for taking a holistic approach to making a sustainable product. Indeed, Khosrovian says that "the negative 790 kg CO2 number does take into account trees that don't make it to the end of their lives for any number of reasons. It's reflected in the 50-year lifespan, which would normally be higher."
Khosrovian started the company with his wife Litty Mathew (pictured), who studied French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu and preferred the delicate flavors of French wine to the harsher spirits his Armenian relatives were fond of hoisting. The couple started experimenting with infusing vodkas, buying their produce at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Khosrovian says their concern for the earth grew naturally out of the relationships they built with their farmer-suppliers. "Our industry has to change just like all industries have to change, to deal nature more of an even hand. If you keep ripping it off eventually it’ll come bite you in the ass."
I would like to drink to that. But Khosrovian wasn't able to leave us a bottle. He promised to send along samples: I'm especially keen to try the enticingly golden-colored gin with 14 aromatics. We'll hold an official Fast Company tasting and report back soon in this space.