Conseil readily admitted to Makower that the growing threats to the environment and natural resources -- via climate change, reduced biodiversity and species loss -- are risks to Aveda's business operations.
"It’s not just what you want to do but a question of self-conservation. If we don’t worry about it, we will have to change the kind of business we do," he said. "We've tried to limit risk for years by having several sources in different hemispheres."
Conseil said that Aveda has an environmental policy which focuses on doing business in a way that keeps in mind several domains, including climate change, toxics, biodiversity, loss of habitat, waste and pollution.
Yet for some plant extracts, such as essential oil from the Bavarian rose, it may be too late, according to Conseil. "There are not many substitutes," he said.
And ironically, the company's supply chain was threatened for months when guar gum -- a natural substance used in several Aveda products as well as in toothpaste and ice cream -- was out of stock due to its use in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) boom. Made from beans mostly found in India, guar gum's thickening properties enable fracking fluid to blast through shale for oil and natural gas extractions.
To address risks, Aveda's research and development arm is "constantly finding better ways to be responsible" through reformulation, Conseil said.
But Conseil doesn't feel the tension within Aveda's founding vision of using natural products in sustainable ways is a bad thing.
"Sometimes if you focus on being sustainable, a cradle-to-cradle approach might lead you to a synthetic [approach]. When I look at this, the conjunction of opposites is what makes great things happen," he said.