Sustainable Herbs Program Blog

Sue Evans talks about ideas for teaching herbalists about sustainability

Regenerative Farming in the Herb Industry

We are excited to announce the first of what will be a series of webinars that explore the specific steps involved in sourcing botanicals in ways that are good for the plants, for people, and for the planet.

The Business Case for Sustainability

5 Lessons: Why Sustainability is Good for Business

Brian Zapp, of Applied Food Sciences, and Andrea Zangara, of Euromed talk about why investing in quality and sustainability makes good business sense.

What Makes a Good Leader?

What Makes a Good Leader?

What is the role of leadership in a mission-driven botanical company? What does it take to create and nurture a culture of sustainability and regeneration within that company? What role does a strong and clear vision and mission play? How do certifications fit in?

Ethnobotany and The Secret Life of Plants

The Stories Plants Tell

A free webinar with ethnobotanist Claudia Ford about her research into the uses of medicinal plants by African slaves in the American South during the 1800s and the implications of this research for the decolonization of herbalism.

COVID Stress test for the Botanical Industry

COVID: A Stress Test for the Botanical Industry

SHP Director, Ann Armbrecht spoke with SHP Inaugural Underwriters, Loren Israelsen, President, United Natural Products Alliance, Angela McElwee, President and CEO of Gaia Herbs, and Ajay Patel, Founder and CEO of Verdure Sciences about the challenges the botanical industry is facing because of COVID and steps companies can take to ensure ...

Business Case for Sustainability

Webinar: The Business Case for Sustainability

In this webinar, SHP Director Ann Armbrecht will speak with Brian Zapp, Creative Director at Applied Food Sciences, and Andrea Zangara, Scientific Marketing Manager at Euromed, two companies that are Inaugural Underwriters of SHP, about why investing in sustainability is essential to sourcing high quality botanicals.

Plant Allies

Plant Allies During COVID

Herbs mentioned in Dr. Tieraona Low Dog's Sustainable Herb Program/American Botanical Council (ABC) Webinar "Planting Seeds of Wellness."

Kiss the Ground Documentary Explores Promise of Regenerative Agriculture

Kiss the Ground Documentary Explores Promise of Regenerative Agriculture

Sustainable Herbs Program DIrector, Ann Armbrecht reviews Kiss the Ground, a new movie celebrating the potential of regenerative agriculture.

Webinar: Dr. Tieraona Low Dog

Tieraona Low Dog, MD is a physician, author, educator and thought leader in integrative medicine. She speaks with SHP Director, Ann Armbrecht about what young people can do to care for themselves and their communities, physically and emotionally, during this time.

Botanical Supply Sustainability in the Time of COVID

Webinar: Botanical Supply Sustainability in the time of COVID

The disruptions caused by COVID-19, challenging as they are, offer an opportunity to address these underlying environmental and ethical issues. In this conversation, industry leaders will discuss the particular challenges the botanical industry is facing in terms of supply and sourcing and specific steps companies can take to ensure susta...

Equity in the Botanical Industry

Equity in the Botanical Industry

SHP has recently made a commitment to The J.E.D.I. Collaborative (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) to work on addressing economic and racial inequities in our work and in the botanical industry as a whole. This post is a section from the SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices Toolkit and provides resources for companies ready...

Mission-Driven Marketing

Marketing in Mission-Driven Botanical Companies

Summer Singletary, Social Media and Content Marketing Strategist, focuses on content and social media marketing for natural products companies. I spoke with Summer about her approach and any advice she has for approaching marketing with a mission.

The Mission in Mission Driven Companies

Building a Regenerative Culture at Pukka Herbs

In this case study from the SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices ToolKit, Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs, talks with SHP about creating and maintaining the mission and culture of a company through leadership changes.

What Can Herb Companies Do?

Exciting efforts are underway to use forest farming as a practice to develop sustainable and ethical supply networks of forest botanicals from Appalachia. Sign the Forest Botanicals Company Pledge to show your support!

Yew Mountain Center and

Why Does Forest Farming Matter?

"Think of the difference of looking at a black cohosh in a plastic container on a shelf in a store and coming upon black cohosh with its fairy wand of tiny white flowers growing in an Appalachian forest," Erica Marks, Director of Yew Mountain Center says. "t’s really hard to replicate the feeling you have coming upon black cohosh in tha...

Declaration of Dependence

A Declaration of Dependence

A new SHP video celebrating the interdependence of humans and the earth.

The Free SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices Toolkit

The Free SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices Toolkit

AUSTIN, Texas (April 21, 2020) — During the week observing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the nonprofit Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP) announces the publication of The SHP Sustainability & Regenerative Practices Toolkit.

COVID-19 and the Botanical Industry

COVID-19 and the Botanical Industry

As COVID-19 has made starkly clear, we are all interconnected. And as communities around the world rush to flatten the curve, we see more starkly than ever the ways our individual behavior impacts the whole. As demand for herbal products spikes, what can we do to help ensure that botanical ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced...

The final post discussing Herb Pharm's process of planning a low waste trade show booth at Expo West 2020, which was cancelled due to COVID-19

Sustainability at Trade Shows - an Oxymoron?

Can the recent cancellation of Expo West be an opportunity for the natural products industry to show the ways it is committed not just to the wellness of consumers and their company’s bottom line but to the wellness of the earth on which we all depend?

Wildcrafting in Appalachia

Wildcrafting Forest Botanicals in Appalachia

In this 10-minute video, wild harvesters and others from Appalachia talk about the tradition of harvesting forest botanicals, how that tradition is being lost, and efforts to revitalize practices that steward medicinal plants from the forest.

Becoming a B Corp

Banyan Botanicals: Becoming a B Corp

Have you ever wondered where to begin the process of becoming a certified B Corp? Erin Douglas, Corporate Responsibility Manager for Banyan Botanicals outlines the process; this case study is part of the SHP tool kit for companies, coming soon.

Seedlings at the Herb Pharm 2019 Expo West booth

Journey to a 'Low Waste' Expo West, part 2

The second in our series documenting one company's journey to a 'low waste' booth at Expo West. Listening to their discussion inspired me to think about how I can apply that process in my own work and community. Which also is Herb Pharm's hope with their booth.

As part of the Sustainable Herbs Program efforts to highlight innovative approaches to tackling sustainability challenges in the industry, Ann spoke with Andrea Zangara, Scientific Marketing Manager at Euromed, an ingredient supplier in Barcelona, Spain, about upcycling residue from extracting saw palmetto fruit.

Euromed Upcycles Saw Palmetto Residue

As part of the Sustainable Herbs Program efforts to highlight innovative approaches to tackling sustainability challenges in the industry, Ann Armbrecht spoke with Andrea Zangara, Scientific Marketing Manager at Euromed, an ingredient supplier in Barcelona, Spain, about upcycling residue from extracting saw palmetto fruit.

Webinar to address climate action in the botanical industry

9 Steps for Taking Climate Action

Nine takeaways from a special introductory webinar for botanical companies on creating a collaborative industry pathway to reversing climate change organized by SHP, AHPA, and Climate Collaborative.

Reducing Waste at Expo West, Herb Pharm's Journey.

The Journey to a 'Low-Waste' Expo West

The first of a series of posts exploring Herb Pharm's decision making process to reduce the environmental impact of their presence at Expo West. We hope this conversation can inspire the natural products industry to think seriously and creatively about reducing the environmental impact of trade shows.

Mountain Rose Herbs's Journey to Zero Waste

The Journey to Zero Waste

The Mountain Rose Herbs (MRH) Zero Waste program is an impressive combination of leadership, innovation, and perseverance. I spoke with Alyssa Bascue, Director of Sustainability, about the certification process, the challenges, and the lessons they have learned.

Cultivating Medicinal Plants

Climate Change at SupplySide West

A SupplySide West panel discussion with Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals and Rupa Das of BI Nutraceuticals on the importance of cross-stakeholder collaboration in the dietary supplement industry.

UN General Assembly Highlights

David Hircock, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs Global Communications, Estée Lauder Companies, writes about three major UN and International Awards given to longterm partners of Estée Lauder Companies for their work in sustainability and human rights.

Using UpS At Risk tool to monitor harvest of oshá root from Colorado.

Is Oshá Being Over-Harvested?

Is oshá at risk? To find out, Kelly Kindscher and his team at the University of Kansas completed a five-year research study to evaluate the sustainability of current harvest practices of oshá in southeastern Colorado and to develop best practices to protect oshá from over collection.

Andrea Rommeler talks about what sustainability means and its importance in her work with raw material suppliers for the Martin Bauer Group.

What Does Sustainability Mean?

In this video and interview, Andrea Rommeler talks about what sustainability means and its importance in her work with raw material suppliers for the Martin Bauer Group.

Digging Roots in Appalachia

Digging roots in Appalachia

A report from our recent filming trip documenting the supply of forest botanicals from Appalachia, an area facing a declining population of wild harvesters.

25 celebration of United Plant Savers

United Plant Savers Celebration

Highlights from the opening celebration of the Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation at the 25th Anniversary of United Plant Savers.

Sustainability Bootcamp for Herb Industry

An overview of NSF's six-week online Sustainability Bootcamp that provides tools and resources to leading sustainability initiatives in the natural products industry.

SHP interviews Verdure Sciences about planting Boswellia trees as a way to ensure a future supply of the gum resin harvested from these trees.

Verdure Sciences - Planting Boswellia serrata trees

SHP interviews Verdure Sciences about planting Boswellia trees as a way to ensure a future supply of the gum resin harvested from these trees.

Anastasiya Timoshyna, Senior Programme Co-ordinator for Sustainable Trade at TRAFFIC, discusses the role of FairWild in biodiversity conservation.

Biodiversity Conservation and FairWild

Anastasiya Timoshyna, Senior Programme Co-ordinator for Sustainable Trade at TRAFFIC, discusses the role of FairWild in biodiversity conservation. Watch the video to find out more.

The Hidden Harvest of Wild Plant Trade

The Hidden Harvest of Wild Plant Trade

Do you know what wild plants are in your cupboard? Find out more about the hidden harvest of the wild plant trade (video).

Making Pottery with Plants: An Interview with Zoe Gardner

Navigating the Science and Spirit of Herbs

Botanist and potter, Zoe Gardner, talks about her experience navigating the worlds of science and spirit in creating pottery with plants.

Jolanda Van Hal from ProFound talks about what is involved in sourcing raw materials and creating sustainable value chains in the botanical industry.

What is a Sustainable Value Chain?

Jolanda Van Hal, Consultant at ProFound, talks about some specific meanings that this word has when it comes to sourcing raw materials and creating sustainable value chains in the botanical industry.

Josef Brinckmann talks about the importance of wild plants and rural economies

Rural Economies and FairWild

Who harvests the wild plants in the products you purchase? Who processes those plants? Are they paid a fair wage? Do you know? Do the finished product companies know? In this short video, Josef Brinckmann talks about why it matters.

FairWild week: Why care about wild plants?

Why Wild Plants Matter

A short video introducing the FairWild standard. "FairWild is about taking care of our wild lands, taking care of our wild species, and taking care of the people who are harvesting them."

Pick a Plant – Now What? Five (easy) Steps for Herb Companies

Pick a Plant - Now What? Five (easy) Steps for Herb Companies

Josef Brinckmann, Research Fellow at Traditional Medicinals, outlines five steps for herbal products companies wishing to move toward regenerative and sustainable supply chains. “Just do something!” Josef says. “Just DO. Pick a plant. Be curious. ”

Sue Evans talks about ideas for teaching herbalists about sustainability

Teaching about the Herb Industry and Sustainability

Australian herbalist Sue Evans talks about the responsibility that herbalists have for teaching students and clients about sourcing, sustainability and transparency in the botanical industry and suggest ways to do just that.

Botanical Industry and BIodiversity

Herbs and Biodiversity: FairWild - Looking Forward

“FairWild: Today & Tomorrow”, a panel discussion at the BioFach trade show, brought together key stakeholders in the FairWild certification scheme to talk about the challenges and opportunities of presented by the standard.

Herb Pharm and the Regenerative Organic Certification

"How do we create greener industries for the next generation? ... Let’s make a positive impact on climate change and help others strive for that too," Matt Dybala. Read more about Herb Pharm's participation in the Regenerative Organic Certification pilot program.

The Soil Carbon Initiative

Tom Newmark discusses the Soil Carbon Initiative, an outcome-based, verifiable standard designed to improve soil health and build soil carbon by encouraging the shift to regenerative agricultural practices.

If you care about food security or the planet, the message is clear, Bethany Davis of MegaFood writes. We have to refocus our efforts on saving the soil.

Regenerative Agriculture - Where to Begin?

by Bethany Davis. If you care about food security, or the planet, or if you eat food then the message is clear. We have to rapidly refocus our efforts on saving the soil. In so doing, it turns out we can also save the planet and secure robust food systems for centuries to come.

Vicky Murray, Sustainability Manager at Pukka Herbs, talks about Pukka's pledge for science-based carbon targets and her top tips on setting carbon targets.

Science-Based Targets for Climate Change

Vicky Murray, Sustainability Manager at Pukka Herbs, discusses Pukka's public commitment to set a science-based carbon reduction target with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi). Below are her top tips on setting carbon targets for a company.

Five steps to support sustainable and ethical sourcing of medicinal plants.

Five Steps to Support Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing

Five ways herbalists to support ethical and sustainable sourcing of medicinal plants, based on a multi-stakeholder presentation at the AHG Symposium.

Josef Brinckmann talks about ethical supply chains, wildlife conservation, and biodiversity.

Sustainable Schisandra Sourcing: Wildlife Friendly Tea

Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals talks about the importance of wildlife in implementing sustainable harvesting in the botanical industry.

FairWild and Conservation

FairWild as a Conservation Strategy

In this 4-minute video, Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals, Ben Heron and Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs, and Jayent Sarnaik of AERF talk about FairWild as a strategy for protecting biodiversity conservation and promoting sustainable livelihoods for wild collectors.

Promoting Livelihoods the FairWild Way

Promoting Livelihoods the FairWild Way

Through the voices of villagers in the western Ghats of India, this 7-minute video documents the ways FairWild certification is supporting rural livelihoods.

What Herb Company to Buy From? Three Reasons Why That's the Wrong Question.

What Herb Company Do You Recommend?

I’m often asked what herb company people should buy from. I’ve been visiting herb companies for the past few years, so it’s a logical question to ask. But I find this question increasingly bothers me. I decided to tease out some of the reasons why. I came up with three.

Reflections standing in the moonlight.

The Moonlight and Meeting the Day

Of all the many things we do and do not do each day, what are the things that might add up to something that matters? Given the turmoil in the world right now, given the demands calling from every direction for our attention, how do any of us know, really, what we can do that might make the difference that is needed?

Unilever buys Pukka Herbs

Unilever Buys Pukka - What Can We Learn?

Is Pukka Herbs Selling Out? What lessons can we all learn about impact, scale, and sustainability in Unilever's recent purchase of Pukka Herbs?

Stories from India

A brief overview of my multi-sited ethnographic research project on the medicinal plant supply chain in India as a 2017 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar.

Domestic Herbs – Survey Results

As Ann mentioned in her recent blog post, Where Are the Domestic Herbs?, 2 surveys were created to better understand the domestic herb market and the key issues involved from the perspectives of both growers and buyers. Thirty-one growers/farmers and 35 herbalists/practitioners responded…not a huge response, but enough to recognize seve...

Domestic Herbs – Where Are They?

Where are the Domestic Herbs? As part of the Sustainable Herbs Project, we are working to understand the supply chain of domestic herbs more fully. So far I’ve discovered it’s a lot more complicated than saying, simply, that locally grown herbs are always best. I’m trying to tease out the key issues involved from the perspectives of...

Oregon's Wild Harvest

Randy Buresh: Connecting with the Plants

Randy Buresh, co-founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest, became interested in traditional herbal medicine during his 20-year career as a registered surgical nurse. He noticed a pattern of unnecessary surgeries and pharmaceutical side effects and knew there had to be a better way. He started dabbling in herbs, making tinctures and studying Nat...

Ben Heron: Sourcing Medicinal Plants for Pukka

Ben Heron, Sustainable Herbs Manager for Pukka Herbs, oversees sourcing of key ingredients, ensuring that the methods of growing, harvesting, and processing the herbs meet Pukka’s quality and sustainability standards. SHP Intern Anita Burke edited the following from a Skyped conversation between Ann and Ben in October 2014.

Five Most Popular Interviews on the Herb Industry

I’ve created a list of our top 5 most popular interviews with leaders in the herb industry to make it easier to find them.

SHP How you Can Help

AHG Interview with Ann Armbrecht

Anne de Courtenay generously included an extensive interview with me about our work following herbs through the supply chain in the Journal of the American Herbalist Guild which should be available for free on the AHG site in the future. I wanted to include this one excerpt from the interview about my vision for the Sustainable Herbs Proj...

The Business of Herbal Medicine by Josef Brinckmann

This conversation with Josef Brinckmann, Vice President of Sustainability for Traditional Medicinals, for Numen inspired my current research following herbs through the supply chain of the botanical industry. And so I wanted to include some excerpts here to provide the foundation for this new project.

Stories and Sustainability in the Herb Industry

I went to Poland and Hungary this past fall to follow plants. I wanted to see how and in what ways they changed as they moved through the supply chain. Yet what captured my attention and my curiosity were the people: the men and women working hard at whatever part they play in that supply chain: collecting, drying, storing, selling, shipp...

Five Thoughts on the Herb Industry

We’ve just returned after almost five weeks of visiting herb farms, primary processing centers, and finished product manufacturers of herbal products. It’s been a whirlwind tour through three states and five countries. I have hours of footage and pages of notes to sort through, all of which will take many, many hours. But before immer...

Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs

Mountain Rose is the go-to source for bulk medicinal herbs by most herbalists in the US and a generous supporter at herb conferences and of United Plant Savers. What started out as mail-order part of Rosemary Gladstar’s herb shop in northern California more than 20 Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs speaks with the Sustainable Herbs ...

Contradictions in Herbal Medicine

I went to Nepal in the late 1980s as a graduate student in anthropology to look at the impact of a conservation area on a local community. It was a smart project based on a lot of research by some of the brightest Nepali researchers in the country at the time. I was interested in conservation, and I was interested in doing research that m...

Essential Oils by Cathy Skipper

At the 2013 International Herb Symposium, I attended herbalist Cathy Skipper’s workshop on essential oils. Cathy trained and now teaches at the ‘Ecole Lyonnaise de Plantes Médicinales‘ in France. I didn’t know much about essential oils and was curious to learn more.

Sustainable Sourcing: Pukka Herbs

I met with Sebastian Pole in his home south of Bristol. He served me a cup of Pukka tea and then led me to his office, a large room lined with bookshelves filled with books on India and Hinduism and Ayurvedic medicine and plants. As soon as he sat down, he began talking and, with little prompting from me, spoke for almost two hours about ...

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A Local Medicine Movement

Our Vision: Households, urban and rural, with pots of medicinal herbs: Thyme, Sage, and Rosemary on their back porch. Echinacea and Garlic grow in their garden. Grown ups and children know where and when to gather St. John’s Wort and Stinging Nettles. They know how to dry them for tea, prepare an oil or salve, and when to use each.