Sustainable Seed Company is the seed industry leader when it comes to taking care of the planet.
No other seed company can claim to be powered by 100% renewable green energy! It is what we mean when we say Sustainable Seed Company. Preserving heirloom seeds for the future is important, but so is protecting our planet. We are committed to implementing a green, sustainable future and bringing new innovative standards to the industry. After all, it is our mission to green the planet, one seed at a time!
In September 2011, we made our first landmark purchase of a new farm and headquarters. This farm was the first in the Valley to be powered by wind. This wind turbine provided over 2/3 of the necessary power needed to run our operations. Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation.
Our farm had a large freestanding solar array that supplemented the power generated by the wind turbine. This array provided needed green energy when the wind was not blowing. We hope to do the same with our new warehouse, implementing solar energy production by installing new solar panels on the roof.
Paper Seed Packets
Paper for our seed packets comes through the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is an international, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification.
- Seed packets are completely compostable.
- All new seed packets are made of 10-30% post consumer waste with a total recycled content of up to 55%.
- Remaining seed package paper content comes from sustainably managed forest. These forest industries are advised through the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit that promotes responsible management of the world’s forest.
- This seed packet paper is also covered under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The SFI is a comprehensive system of principles, objectives and performance measures developed by professional foresters, conservationists and scientists that integrates the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with long-term protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water quality.
- Soy based bio inks used on these packets are designed to meet the certification process of EcoLogo. EcoLogo is North America’s most widely recognized and respected certification of environmental leadership.
- All bulk seed is packed in reusable canvas bags or Paper EarthFirst bags. EarthFirst bags are made from 40% recycled paper and lined with EarthFirst, a compostable film which is made from plants. Remove the tin tie and then the whole bag can be composted.
The 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
How we are reducing our impact on the earth and its resources:
- We do not generate a paper seed catalog unlike our competition who destroys an estimated 2,200 trees to produce just one year’s worth of catalogs on non-recycled paper.
- We use paperless ordering systems to reduce paper waste.
- Reducing the use of petroleum and CO2 emissions. Team members live within a 3 mile radius and either bike/walk to work or carpool. Currently in the design process of implementing the production of bio-fuel for our tractors. Committed to using 50% less tractor time and replacing it with horse/man power in 2012.
- Implementing the use of power monitors and other technology to reduce our energy consumption. All lighting will be motion-sensor controlled so if a light gets left on, it will automatically turn off.
- Seed packages use up to 55% post consumer recycled paper. Currently in the implementation phase of using organic soy based inks reducing VOC emissions.
- Using biodegradable packing supplies in shipping material. Our packing peanuts are made of corn and are 100% compostable. All paper packing is unbleached or dyed and is also 100% compostable.
All shipping boxes are Cradle to CradleSM certified. It’s recyclable, of course. But it's so much more than that. This is environmental "big picture" certification. It starts at the design stage, considers energy and water use through manufacturing, and ends with a product that can be safely recycled.
- Composting, which has reduced our landfill waste by up to 95%.
We reuse material of all kinds whenever possible. For example:
We have a 0 waste policy when processing seeds. Unlike other companies that use harmful acid to process tomato seeds, we process them naturally allowing all waste to be fed to our heritage animals or composted on site. All chaff produced from processing seeds is used for animal bedding, compost or in the case of barley straw as an natural algaecide in ponds.
- All substandard vegetables/plants in seed production are donated to employees, the local community food bank and senior center.
- We have had a long standing relationship with using wasted products from other business. One such example is with a coffee roaster. We recycle 100% of their organic coffee bags and coffee chaff back into our land for mulch.
- Boxes received by us with previous shipments are always reused back to the shipping department or composted on site.
- Packing material received from other companies is always recycled back into our shipping department. We work hard to eliminate Styrofoam use.
- Replacing disposable batteries with rechargeable ones.
- Using recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer waste whenever possible.
- All boxes or packing material that cannot be reused are composted.
This is at the heart of what we do! There is too much to list, but here is just a sample of what we are doing.
- Our new farm is currently in the process of being certified organic. This process will be complete by January 1, 2012 We NEVER use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
- Implementing horse powered cultivation. By 2012 we hope to reduce the use of petroleum based tractors by 60%.
- Currently designing and trying out battery powered tractors that are recharged by our farm's wind turbine and solar panels.
- We are currently installing bat, bluebird and owl houses all over the farm. These are natures allies in the war on agricultural pests and what we consider organic pest control.
- We were one of the charter members of PARTNERS FOR SUSTAINABLE POLLINATION and the only seed company to join this groundbreaking movement, pursuing collaborative approaches between farmers, growers, beekeepers and scientists to develop ways to improve the health of honey bees in pollination services and support native pollinators. Sustainable Seed Company not only supports this effort, but we keep over 24 hives on our farms. We also run a bee rescue service, protecting bees from being exterminated. No other heirloom seed company in the world is doing this!
- Pollination plantings. It is key that we help native pollinators not only survive, but thrive. Seed and food production depend on it and we go out of our way to plant native species that help native pollinators thrive.
- We are currently revising our smaller farmer contract specification to include our stringent sustainable farming practices. Soon, any farmer wanting to sell seed to us will have to meet the standards and inspections.
- By 2014 we plan to be growing 75% of our seed needs on farms directly owned by us or contracted exclusively by us using our stringent organic sustainable farming methods.