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An Herbalists Environmental Responsibility

Updated: Feb 27

As an herbalist I use a variety of different herbs or herb derived products. Like but not limited to, essential oils, flower essences, herbs, and more. I use these in products that I use myself as well as items my loved ones and customers use. I have a responsibility to not only the Earth which I receive these herbs from but also to the people whom use these products.

When I purchase or grow my own herbs, I am aware of the quality of the herbs. To do this I need to know where the herbs come from, are the plants native to the area, how the plants are grown and what is used on them. If the plant isn’t native is it being responsibly farmed and is the environment around it being protected. I believe this is my responsibility as an herbalist.


You might be asking yourself why is this important? Knowing and utilizing this information by using sustainably, non-threatened herbs will keep habitats and bio-diversity healthy, along with keeping businesses responsible through buying power.


Some people may be asking how do herbs become threatened or endangered. Can it happen if we are unconscious of our actions? if we do not care? If we do not take responsibility for our actions and choices? If we simply do not know? Below are some of the ways the herbs we use for healing can become threatened.


- Over harvesting. This is when a person takes to much. Usually happens when wild harvesting or foraging.

- Habitat loss. This can happen with population growth and building development, pollution of habitats, climate change and all that comes with it.

- Habitat Fragmentation. This is when a big parcel of land is broken into smaller ones. It breaks up food, water and shelter of animals and insects alike. Animals and insects are important for seed dropping and/or pollination.

- Bio-prospecting. This is where plants are used for research to find medicine, biochemicals or other valuable material. If not done sustainably this can lead to a decrease from over use. It can also lead to bio-piracy which again is over use or a patent on plant/s.




It is easy to focus on the problem and then let everyone else figure it out, but that is not how I work. Below are some ideas on how to help. Some of these are ways that I learnt while taking my environmental classes, through discussions, and research. Please use the comments section below to get involved and come up with more ideas!


-Talk to the herbalist. Ask where the herbs come from, are they organic, how are they harvested and whatever else they can think of.

-Grow your own. If you have a yard great! Create a beautiful habitat for butterflies, honey bee`s and more. Don’t have a yard? There are many options now a days where you can have a simple table top garden!

-Get involved in habitat restoration, clean ups or invasive species removal. There are many different organizations to choose from non-profit, local organizations, or towns that do monthly meetups to clean up. Or just take a trash bag out there on you own.

-Make changes to your own actions. Be aware of what you are buying, how much waste you produce. Don’t litter. This keeps habitats clean so then they don`t have to cleaned. Use reusable items instead of single use or disposable items. Not only does this save you money but you will also have less garbage.

-Grow your knowledge. This could be about the local environment, the different species, or how to garden. Just be active!

-Most importantly lead by example!





With all that is going on in the world it is more important now than ever that we protect what resources we have left. Plants have been around for 500 million years, and have been used in medicine for the last 60,000 years, including up till today. They are essential to our lives and well-being.






References

Pennisi, E. (2018, February 19). Land plants arose earlier than thought—and may have had a bigger impact ... Science. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.science.org/content/article/land-plants-arose-earlier-thought-and-may-have-had-bigger-impact-evolution-animals


Roberson, E. (2008, March). Medicinal plants at risk - center for biological diversity. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/publications/papers/Medicinal_Plants_042008_lores.pdf


N. M. Haddad, L. A. Brudvig, J. Clobert, K. F. Davies, A. Gonzalez, R. D. Holt, T. E. Lovejoy, J. O. Sexton, M. P. Austin, C. D. Collins, W. M. Cook, E. I. Damschen, R. M. Ewers, B. L. Foster, C. N. Jenkins, A. J. King, W. F. Laurance, D. J. Levey, C. R. Margules, B. A. Melbourne, A. O. Nicholls, J. L. Orrock, D. X. Song, J. R. Townshend, Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Sci. Adv. 1, e1500052 (2015).


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