Make the Leap

If we hear another company misuse the word "green" or "sustainable," we might scream! But when we really got into it with Luke Penney, founder of Cambridge-based LEAP Organics, we realized what a commitment to sustainability truly looks like. And, no, it's not all about the eco-buzzwords and strategic marketing, thank goodness.

When we chatted with him at press time, Penney was gearing up to launch his new sustainable skincare company, due to debut in mid-May with a trio of organic soaps. But for this guy, who had a hand in creating the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell, simply marketing an organic product wasn't enough. Penney added fair-trade shea butter to the mix. And he made sure his product was totally vegan, never testing on animals. Penney even went so far as to incorporate his green ideals into his overarching business plan, powering production with renewable energy whenever possible, offsetting his energy use, and donating a minimum of 3% of LEAP's annual revenues to environmental nonprofits. (This year's recipients will include Clean Air Cool Planet, Trees for the Future, and the Student Conservation Association.) As he puts it in his press release, "Bottom line, LEAP tries to keep Mother Nature happy." It almost seems superfluous to mention that LEAP's soaps smell fantastic and left our skin totally buttery, too.

We're also big fans of the soaps' quirky, thoughtfully designed packaging. The product of artist Charles Bloom of Colorado-based firm Moxie Sozo, each piece features a gorgeous animal graphic; as a result, the trio's rugged yet artsy feel is sure to earn more guy approval than your average fancy-pants cleansing bar. (We can't think of a better complement to your collection of hiking gear than a stag's head on the guest soap, no?) And because Penney is Penney, there's more on the environmental front here, too. Each soap's packaging is 100% recyclable and manufactured with 50% post-consumer recycled material using strictly wind energy. Hell, the Forest Stewardship Council even ensures that the paper comes from sustainable forests. Suffice it to say, Penney has done his homework.

Distribution plans were still being developed last we talked, but the soaps ($4.99/each), available in lavender, lemongrass, and eucalyptus, are set to retail at later this month - and we can't imagine that they won't be quick to pop up on shelves in the area. From there, Penney is on to facial cleanser, exfoliating face wash, facial toner, and face lotion, all debuting in June. And if we know Luke (and, okay, we don't really, but he's just so nice!), we think he'll have even more green stuff up his sleeve that most organic producers haven't even dreamed of yet.