“How and where we spend our money is a political choice, a social choice, and an environmental choice. It is incumbent on us to make these choices and they aren’t easy and we don’t always get them right.” – Sebastian Pole
As I come to the end of my journey following herbs around the world, I believe even more strongly that the best herbal medicine is made by yourself or by someone you know and trust using plants they have grown. Healing is far more complex than taking a product – and growing and preparing remedies yourself offers potent medicine that you can never find in a bottle.
That said, most of us do buy products. And most people, when they hear about the Sustainable Herbs Project, want me to tell them what products to buy. My goal has always been larger than recommending products or companies. I want to provide the resources needed to use our purchasing power to create worlds that are healthier, not just for ourselves but for the entire herbal products supply chain. We need to change the whole world, not just parts of it.
“Consumers that aggressively question and challenge the manufacturers of the goods that they use about their manufacturing and sourcing practices, their contributions to the world, can in fact make a huge difference in the directions that those companies take and the practices that they employ within their companies.” – Drake Sadler, CEO Traditional Medicinals
I have focused on companies not so everyone flocks to buy their products, but to use their standards to raise the bar of the industry overall. First, educate yourself about the issues involved. Next, find the companies you like – and support them by buying their products. Choosing what companies to support begins with defining your values.You might want a company that supports conservation and traditional knowledge for sourcing wild collected plants. Or domestic herb growing and bioregional herbalism. Or fair trade practices for small landowners around the world. Figure out what your values are, then find companies whose values align with your own.
Once you’ve done that, challenge those companies to go further. Let them know you will support them (by continuing to buy their products) as they take these risks of implementing more rigorous standards.
A few questions to ask herb companies:
The industry will only change when all of us, especially herbalists and the herb community, engage in the process of making it change.
If that’s more than you can think about now, here are some key takeaways:
A few other general guidelines about what to look for in spending that additional money: