The Power of Plants: Inside the Job of a Compounding Herbalist

TKTK. Photo: Haley Shapley

Sunny Sweet uses no chemicals, perfumes or dyes in the products she makes for Herban Arts. Photo: Haley Shapley

When you see an herb on the shelves of a store — say, Echinacea — you might think something like, “Hey, I heard that’s good for colds. Maybe I should pick some up.”

Sunny Sweet has a different thought process. She thinks: When was it harvested? At what elevation? How was it dried? How was it packaged? How old is it?

“Plants like me,” says Sweet, the owner of Herban Arts and a compounding herbalist who’s made a career from studying them inside out.

“I’m very focused on sustainability and improving people’s lives,” Sweet says. “It’s important to me that what I make is not only good for people but not hurting anyone to be made.” Her herbs are all ethically harvested and pesticide-free, and she makes an effort to meet the growers and always verify their practices. She reuses milk jugs for containers, selects materials for packaging that can be recycled, and decorates her space largely with secondhand furniture.

Sweet sat down with Earth911 over cups of tea — her very own blend of earl gray, peach, chrysanthemum and lavender — to talk the power of plants and why she loves her job so much.

Next page: Becoming a compounding herbalist

Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.

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