Kathy Kellogg Johnson
Healing the soil through sustainability
While her brother Hap Kellogg is committed to sustainable business operations, Kathy Kellogg Johnson is focused on sustaining the health of the planet and its people. As the Director of Sustainability at Kellogg Garden Products, Kathy is committed to making sure the company’s practices contribute to the future wellbeing of its employees, customers, and the environment.
For Kathy, that means finding ways to reduce and reuse waste. “Since our earliest days, Kellogg has had a history of recovering organic material others consider waste,” she explains. “Our soil is starving for organic materials. If we can use the organic materials in waste, instead of throwing them away or burning them, then we’re doing something healthy for our soil and our planet.”
Kathy is equally committed to reducing waste in the company’s own operations, as well. For example, Kellogg strives to recycle all cardboard and plastic products used onsite. “The plastic bags we use are collected and recycled as shoes,” she adds. In fact, Kellogg is well on its way to becoming a zero-waste company.
“We were one of the founding members of the Zero Waste Business Council, and have won the State of California Zero Waste Award multiple years in a row,” she explains.”We were pursuing zero-waste practices in our company long before it was a state law.”
Kellogg’s waste-reducing practices have extended to the company’s partners and vendors as well, many of whom have adopted sustainable practices in their own operations. “We ask our vendors to come along with us in this journey, to meet our standards even when it’s not law. And many of them have done exactly that.”
While waste-reduction and recycling are key components of Kellogg’s sustainability strategy, the company also strives to use locally sourced organic material whenever possible, such as forest waste from Washington state and turkey manure from Northern California.
Like her brother Hap, Kathy approaches sustainability as a continuous learning opportunity. “We have a high tolerance for mistakes,” she explains. “People grow from their mistakes. We’ll never reach the finish line for what we want to do. We’re always discovering something we can do better.”
Everything Kathy has learned over the years points back to that one essential ingredient for a healthy environment: Soil.
“The more we learn about the healing properties of soil, the more focused we are on making sure our products enhance those properties,” she says. “We engineer our products so that they prepare soil to better absorb nutrient-rich rain water. That’s not only important for our customers’ lawns and gardens, but for entire regions.”
This passion for replenishing soil led Kathy to become an active participant in Plant with Purpose, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rural poor around the globe adopt sustainable farming practices that protect the land. Kathy regularly volunteers her time to educate remote villages across the world about organic growing and gardening, and Kellogg is a proud supporter of the organization.
More than suppliers of organic gardening products, Kathy wants the company to serve as a model for sustainable methods. “Part of our responsibility is to equip the next crop of gardeners with the information, tools and products to grow in a sustainable fashion that heals rather than harms the soil,” she says. “We’re very open about what we do, because we want people to repeat it.”