Natural skincare and biodynamic farming with B Corp Weleda

Founded over a century ago (yes, you read that right), Swiss-based Weleda is a leading manufacturer of certified organic and natural skincare and medicines for anthroposophic therapy.

Certifying as a B Corp in September 2021, Weleda Group consists of 25 companies worldwide, employing more than 2,500 people and with products available in over 50 countries.

As a purpose-driven company striving for a future that is environmentally sustainable and socially equitable, Weleda embarked on the B Corp journey to put their “values into practice even more effectively.” Sitting down with us to share why becoming a B Corp is so important to them as well as some helpful tips for feeling healthy and comfortable in your skin in a sustainable way, we hear from Weleda’s Managing Director Australia, David Johnston.

Hand in dirt

Photo supplied by Weleda

Tell us about your business and what makes it unique?

Since 1921, Weleda has been developing products for health and beauty and for a better world. We have more than 100 years of experience in manufacturing natural skincare and pharmaceutical products, which we are really proud of.

Our founders, physician Ita Wegman and philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner, recognised the connections between nature and the human body, mind and spirit. They began producing ‘anthroposophic medicine’ and body care products with natural ingredients, which is now practised by physicians, therapists, and nurses all over the world to treat a range of acute and chronic diseases. 

Our name, Weleda, expresses the deep connection between human beings and nature. “Veleda” was a title once given to wise, healing women.

Today, Weleda grows medicinal plants according to the principles of biodynamic farming in our eight Weleda gardens around the world.

These gardens sound like wellness havens and we understand they form an indelible part of Weleda’s harmony philosophy. Where are they located?

Everything that grows and thrives in our gardens is cultivated according to the principles of biodynamic farming. Besides the growing of medicinal plants for our medicines and body care products, the gardens are a great way to get people in touch with our core philosophy – ‘in harmony with nature and the human being’. 

Although our biggest medicinal herb garden is in Germany, we also have gardens in other countries such as France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, and Aotearoa New Zealand at the foot of Te Mata in the wine-producing region of Hawkes Bay.

Person working in a garden

Photo supplied by Weleda

There wouldn’t be many businesses, let alone B Corps, who could say they’ve been in business for over 100 years! What do you think are the keys to your longevity and sustainability?

We conduct our business with a sense of moderation in all we do. We only want to take as much as we can give back. In fact, we aim to give even more back than we take – that’s what sustainability and, in fact, regeneration is all about.

The way we see it — sustainability has a lot to do with resilience. In some areas of our business we are already doing very well, and in other areas we are working intensively to improve.

As a company, we are building resilience at different levels. Our biodynamic gardens and raw material projects around the world support the resilience of soils and local ecosystems. We also build resilience on a social level, by treating our long-standing cultivation partners with respect, paying fair wages and supporting social projects.

We dare to care and strive to make the world a better place for people and the planet, whether it’s through fair trade, biodynamic cultivation, or responsible use of environmental resources — sustainability is part of our roots and our future.

What would you say are some of the major changes over the past 100 years in your business?

Our world has changed since Weleda was founded in 1921. We face major challenges: climate change, dwindling biodiversity and resources, vast amounts of waste and high greenhouse gas emissions. 

Like our founders, we want to be pioneers today. Sustainability and regeneration, biodiversity, soil health and climate protection are rooted in our corporate goals.

Person holding weed roots

Photo supplied by Weleda

Why is it so important that more and more businesses, especially in the beauty and wellness industry, become a force for good?

Being in harmony with nature and people is only possible if we are a responsible and sustainable company. Is it enough for us to produce fewer emissions or increase the recycled content of our packaging? We don’t think so. Less bad is not really good. 

As businesses, it is incumbent upon us to act in a way that is socially responsible, ecologically sound and economically successful.

And why is biodiversity, in particular, so important to you?

It is the rich variety of life on earth at all levels: from the diversity of ecosystems such as forests, meadows and lakes, to the diversity of plants and animal species. The system of different life forms affects all of life on our planet and is highly sensitive. Its balance ensures our wellbeing. That’s why we are working hard to preserve, protect and increase biodiversity, above and below ground.

Protecting the climate is part of this. We are working to do this by sourcing our electricity from renewable energies and supporting initiatives for healthy soils. We also developed a seed strategy for more biodiversity and are advancing the use of recycled packaging.

Two people working in a garden

Photo supplied by Weleda

Palm oil is a controversial topic in the beauty industry. Can you tell us more about your commitment to sourcing palm oil from certified organic cultivation?

Palm oil is not inherently bad. It’s virtually impossible to imagine natural skincare without palm oil. Weleda soaps, for example, contain crude palm oil, and for many of our natural skincare products contain palm derivatives. 

Palm oil has some very positive properties. It does not need to be chemically hardened, remains stable when heated and has a long shelf life. It is a very efficient crop, needing much less land than soybean or sunflower plants to produce the same amount of oil.

Unfortunately, large areas of rainforest are often cleared for oil palm plantations. The biodiversity of the rainforests is unique, and their soils are huge carbon reservoirs. 

Deforestation of the rainforest not only destroys biodiversity as the basis of life, but also accelerates climate change. We want to change that. 

Since 2011, we have sourced pure organic and fair trade palm oil from Brazil, which certifies that no rainforest is destroyed for its cultivation. We also work with The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), supporting sustainable community development in Borneo and the reforestation of the rainforest, so that orangutans can once again have a home.

Purple wild flowers

Photo supplied by Weleda

What do you see as three of the most important practices for transforming your industry?

  1. Quality ingredients

Quality at Weleda is not just a buzzword. For us, the name Weleda stands for holistic quality from source to product, and onwards into the way it’s used by our customers. We believe that only carefully selected and processed natural substances can aid the body in its numerous delicately-balanced functions, and we want to see the industry using more quality, natural ingredients.

  1. Transparency of materials and processes

Businesses create trust through transparency and honesty. Gaining the trust of our community is important to us; it is important for us that we embody transparency on the outside, and also live and implement it on the inside. We strive for the greatest possible transparency and accept responsibility for errors. Our partnerships and collaborations are clear, authentic and fair.

  1. Harnessing the power of nature

We are part of nature, and nature is a wonderful role model. For over 100 years we have been harnessing the power of nature in our products to help support natural wellbeing and vitality. Through the cultivation of our raw materials according to biodynamic farming principles, we nurture healthy soils and help preserve biodiversity. And because we find deep meaning in our work, we love what we do.

Why did you want to become a B Corp?

The B Corp community is united by the desire to make a difference. In the business world, this attitude is synonymous with a paradigm shift. Most of the time, the main aim of a business is to make profits. While that’s not going to change anytime soon, it shouldn’t be at any price or at the expense of people, animals and the environment. This has always been the fundamental attitude at Weleda.

Person sitting in a garden

Photo supplied by Weleda

Do you have any tips for aspiring B Corps that you’d like to share?

Take your time and look for ways to integrate what you learn. More than 100 employees were involved in the process of Weleda’s B Corp certification, to gather and prepare all the information required. From our initial decision to pursue certification to verification, it took us about one and a half years, with the support of B Lab. 

The pursuit of the common good and ecological wellbeing had to be anchored in writing and integrated into the company’s bylaws. 

We always want to support any company looking to become a B Corp by being very transparent in sharing our experiences with the movement as a whole. There is great potential if everyone works towards common goals.

Managing Director Australia, David Johnston

Managing Director Australia, David Johnston

A big thank you to David and Weleda for sharing more about their work. You can find out more at or in the B Corp Directory

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