Sophie, talk us through the moment you decided to create Seed & Sprout?
It’s been a very organic journey and the brand has grown alongside my personal journey to reduce single-use plastic. A little over five years ago now, my son, Archie, was starting school and one of the requirements was to pack plastic-free lunches. I was really struggling to find a plastic-free lunchbox that ticked all the boxes. There was always something that wasn’t quite right, so I decided to create a new lunchbox that was. Our first product was The Stacker and from there our range has grown from lunchware to bags, bars, pantry products and more.
What are you hoping to achieve with Seed & Sprout?
For me, Seed & Sprout is more than the products we offer. While these are important, our mission is to not only do less harm, but to do more good. We’re passionate about the planet and people and are committed to contributing to a better future. Developing beautiful eco-products that help people make the swap to plastic-free seamless is at the heart of what we do. But, above this, I hope we inspire people to make more sustainable choices — to know that little changes add up, to feel inspired to protect the planet, and to provide a community where they feel supported on their sustainability journey.
What is the hardest thing about creating a sustainable brand?
When you’re doing things sustainably, everything feels a bit harder. From ensuring suppliers comply with our sustainable processes to running a zero-waste head office — a lot of effort and hard work goes into ensuring everything we do is sustainable. But it’s worth it, and it’s what allows us to rest our heads on the pillow each night knowing we’ve done everything we can to live and breathe the ethos of true sustainability.
Do you think there is such a thing as a truly sustainable brand?
Absolutely! While sustainability is well and truly having its moment in the spotlight, I do believe there are brands out there doing everything they can to be sustainable. I really applaud them because of how intimately I understand the difficulties of running a sustainable business (not only upfront but also behind the scenes). It’s not easy — but it’s what the world needs right now.
It was reported during lockdown there was a spike in recyclables sent to landfill. Reducing and recycling waste at home can often feel like a chore. How can we inspire people to adopt a low-waste lifestyle that doesn’t feel out of reach, even when life is chaotic?
We like to remind our community that living a low-waste life is about progress, not perfection. Getting tied up in doing everything perfectly can be overwhelming and stop people from making any changes at all. My recommendation is to start small. Start with a room in your house (or even an area of a room like the fridge in your kitchen) and see what sustainable changes you can make there. Once you start, it’s like a domino effect. Instead of becoming a chore, it actually becomes rewarding knowing that small changes actually work. Plus, we design our products to feel beautiful to use. That way there is some added motivation.
How much do you feel attitudes towards single-use plastic have changed in the last five years?
Although single-use plastic use has risen during COVID, the overall attitude change towards it has been amazing. To see states across the country banning different types of single-use plastic is incredible. It can feel like a losing battle sometimes, but the awareness that has grown over recent years is incredible and a sign that more and more people are becoming conscious of the choices they are making in their daily lives, which is a massive positive.
Do you think the government should play a part in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in our oceans and landfill? What action would you like to see them take?
We’re optimists at Seed & Sprout. We prefer not to dwell on what isn’t being done and instead focus on what is, and what we can do. Having said that, of course we’d like to see more action from the government towards climate change. Increased regulation of the top contributors would have an enormous effect, and although it can feel frustrating and deflating knowing that more isn’t being done, I truly believe that, as consumers, we hold a lot of power and should do as much as we can with the resources we have to make a difference. The market is built on supply and demand and companies will cater to their customers’ tastes. We can see that with many big companies going “green” — even McDonald’s is now using paper straws, which would never have happened without public pressure.
Can you imagine a world in the near future where we barely rely on plastic at all and what does that look like to you?
That would be the dream! I am actually in the process of building a tiny home at a permaculture community where we’ll be living as sustainably as possible. It’s been a dream of mine for years, so it’s amazing to see it coming to life.
Our property is totally off-grid. It has solar panels, huge rainwater tanks, dams and food forests. We are sharing the 66-acre working farm with seven other families and we each have a two-acre private lot to do with what we like. There are centralised facilities like a solar power plant, a workshop, education centre, campground, kitchen garden, main crops and over 20 dams! There’s even a beautiful creek that the kids (and adults) love swimming in.
The community grows hundreds of different fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts and herbs. There are goats, cows, ducks, horses, chickens and even eels and mussels in the creek. The community members are diverse and multi-skilled. We have people who can build straw-bale cob homes, we have fermentation specialists, we have alternative health specialists, herbologists, neurologists and entrepreneurs.
One of the reasons I’m so driven to create this sustainable, off-grid paradise is because I want to show others that this way of living is achievable, cost-effective and incredibly rewarding. People shy away from affordable communal living situations these days. But in less-affluent communities and cultures where there is multi-generational living, rates of depression and suicide can often be far less — in fact, in some cultures the concept of depression isn’t even recognised. So we can do so much more than just reduce our bills and our footprint on the earth. We can build a satisfying and fulfilling life by redefining our concept of living.
What is the one thing you would like more people to know about our plastic waste and what is one thing you would like to see people do more of?
If you look at the issue of plastic waste as a whole, it can be really confronting. I would love people to look at the plastic waste in their life and start taking notice of it. We like to encourage people starting out on their sustainability journeys to do a waste audit — either going through their bins or keeping a log of everything they throw away. Bringing awareness to the plastic in your life is a great starting point. From there, you can start making simple, easy, manageable plastic-free swaps. I think if more people did this, they’d realise that for a lot of the plastic they use in their lives, there’s actually a number of really cool plastic-free alternatives!
What makes you feel wild and alive?
Running into the cold ocean water at dusk with the moon in the pastel sky, or riding with the wind in my hair through some new and undiscovered place with strange scents, sounds and scenes.
What’s next for Seed & Sprout?
We’re always innovating new, exciting and practical products to help our customers continue making plastic-free swaps that make a difference. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what we have planned.