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Environmental Interview with Dean Hearst

April 30, 2007


Hello my name is Shane Jordan I run The Sietch.

The Sietch caters to a diverse audience of ecologically minded readers. We get about 40,000 readers a month and they are always interested in learning more about companies that care about the earth.  We have an ongoing series of articles called “ten questions” that seek to introduce these readers to interesting people and companies that are making a positive change in the world.  I recently read about your new solar system and would love to ask you some questions about it.

Could you introduce yourself to the readers, your name, your position in the company etc?

My name is Dean Hearst.  I grew up in Montana, and received my first exposure to “green” living when my parents built a passive solar house in 1980.  In 1991 my wife and I spent two years living on our sailboat, which did have a small diesel engine, but 95% of our power came from the wind, and our two solar panels.  It opened my eyes to how you can really live quite comfortably with use of “alternative energy”.  I am currently the Vice President of Manufacturing for Bigelow Teas.

1.  Could you tell me about your company?   How did the company start, interesting facts about, etc?

Bigelow Tea was founded by Ruth Campbell Bigelow over 60 years ago in 1945.  The company continues to be 100% family owned and managed by the Bigelow family with a special blend of pride and enthusiasm. Today the company is one of the nation’s leading producers of specialty teas, which includes more than 80 varieties of flavored, traditional, green, organic green, herbal, decaffeinated, and iced teas.  One of Bigelow Tea’s most well-known products is America’s number one specialty tea flavor “Constant Comment®” which is flavored with a delicious blend of oranges and spice. It is available in both black and green tea versions.

In 2003, Bigelow Tea purchased and restored the beautiful Charleston Tea Plantation – the only tea plantation in America. Here Bigelow Tea cultivates several hundred thousand tea bushes that are descendants of bushes brought from China and India during the 1800’s. Visitors are welcome to tour the facility and observe the tea manufacturing process.

And don’t forget about our high profile advocates of Bigelow Green Tea which include sports figures Yankees manager Joe Torre and the father-son football duo Phil and Chris Simms.

2.  What made Bigelow decide to go solar was it requested by your customers? 

Solar power was looked at as a means to reduce the increase in power rates by United Illuminating.  Bigelow formed a team to look at alternate methods of generating power and possible reductions to our current power consumption. With the help from CCEF “Connecticut Clean Energy Fund” and United Illuminating the process has been very painless and educational along the way.

3.  How are you working with the state of Connecticut, to install the system? 

The state of Connecticut has the CCEF “Connecticut Clean Energy Fund” for encouraging companies and homeowners to look at conservation and renewable production.  We have applied for and received a grant to help pay for the solar project from CCEF.  We are working with a local company “Solar Works” who is doing the engineering, installation and commissioning of the solar array.

4.  How large will the solar system be? 

The solar array is between 177 and 194 kW.  Sizing of the system is critical to CCEF and Bigelow because while we want to produce as much as possible we need to make sure it is as cost efficient as possible.  The size of the system is determined by the amount of roof space available to receive enough sunlight to produce an economical payback.

5.  Has the recent prominence of global warming in the news had anything to do with your choice to go solar? 

While the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and other articles and legislation has increased awareness in global warming recently, the Bigelow Tea Company has looked into green or recyclable products for many years.  We have partnered with companies that make positive environmental choices and we are pleased in taking this next step with our rooftop solar array.

6.  What sort of savings can you expect from your system? 

The system will generate 10% to 20% of our electrical demands.  Our peak demand happens to be during the summer time so our biggest savings should also be during the summer when we are generating the most from the solar array.  We will use a monitoring system that can be monitored via the Internet that shows what power has been generated by the hour or by the day.   We should save around $3750 a month in electric bills.

7.  Has the company made other energy efficient choices that follow in these same green footsteps? 

We are looking at ways to save energy from lights that turn off after a certain period with no movement in the area; new equipment that runs more efficiently with the same amount of power as old equipment; and brighter lights that use less electricity.  These are all ways we are working to improve our energy choices.

8.  I notice you have started to produce organic green teas, could you tell us a little about them and why you decided to start growing them?

Bigelow’s Organic Green tea is naturally grown and processed in accordance with USDA and QAI requirements using natural fertilizer to maintain a healthy and safe growing environment and working with socially responsible farmers  who also emphasize the conservation of soil and water to enhance  environmental quality for future generations.  Our consumers have enjoyed the benefits of our green tea line over the years as they have searched for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle while enjoying a quality product.  Now they can enjoy a healthy cup of organic green tea that comes from an all natural garden

Bigelow Tea works to keep the green tea category dynamic, with a tempting assortment of flavor innovations, where each and every one offer maximum enjoyment because our teas are so fresh.  In addition to our newest flavors, Green Tea with Pomegranate, Green Tea with Blueberry, Green Tea Chai, and Jasmine Green Tea, we now offer a total of 12 exciting flavors in the Bigelow Green Tea lineup.

9.  Are you planning any other lines of organic products?

We are always coming up with new flavors based on consumer demand….check the blog for updates.

10.  I have always been told that green tea is good for your health; can you explain why green tea is good for us?

Please go to our blog, www.bigelowteablog, and our website, www.bigelowtea.com, for tea health facts.  From cutting cancer’s risk to losing weight, many studies from around the world make note of the amazing benefits of green tea.

Please tell me anything else about your company, yourself, or your product that you feel was not covered under the above questions and you think would be interesting to my audience. 

This year will be our 20th year hosting the Bigelow Fun Run in Southport.  Over $50,000 was raised last year and donated to eight local charities.  This year we are also volunteering time and effort to Habitat for Humanity.

We are working with the town of Fairfield to raise awareness of environmental issues such as global climate shifts as related to everyday lifestyle and habits, and to provide meaningful opportunities for individuals, businesses, schools and government to actively affect change.

1-888-BIGELOW (1-888-244-3569)

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