Seedling was launched in 2016 by Stuart Landesberg, CEO of Grove Collaborative, as a sustainable alternative paper brand. Seedling products are comprised of paper towels and toilet paper made from bamboo fiber. The San Francisco-based company focuses on using sustainable, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free methods when creating its products. While they are based and located in the U.S, their products are sourced from China and shipped to the U.S to be sold. Since the bamboo is grown and shipped from China, the cost of shipping is a lot more than a few bucks. In a 2012 study, it was found that roughly 3% of all CO2 emissions each year can be attributed to shipping containers. So while the product is sustainable as a paper alternative, they have a large carbon footprint.
Seedling sources its materials from China, so much of the bamboo that is used is grown there. The companies that they source their bamboo from are family farms and do not use fertilizer and pesticides. In a quote from their website, they state “Seedling products use responsibly-sourced bamboo from small family farms in China, where bamboo is a native species. Our bamboo is not a source of food for pandas and does not contribute to clear-cutting forests, and because it’s native to the area where it grows, it can be grown without fertilizers or pesticides and doesn’t need to be replanted. Plus, bamboo generates three times the amount of oxygen than the carbon emitted from transporting it overseas, so we feel good about sourcing it from China”. While producing oxygen is good, bamboo does not have a very good carbon capture system. Their statement on carbon emissions seems like more of a personal pat on the back. Carbon emissions outweigh oxygen production by a long shot, so by sourcing their materials from China, they are still contributing to global CO2 emissions.
In order to make their paper products, they have to harvest the bamboo, then manufacturers break down the bamboo plant into fibers and add the fibers to a mixture that turns them into a bamboo pulp. Once the fibers have been turned into pulp, they soak, press, and form the pulp into the actual paper. While they get their materials from China, their products are made and packaged in the U.S. So far, the company only ships their products within the U.S, but they have plans in the future to ship internationally.
Seedling products are hand-produced in factories in the U.S. Reading personal reviews online by people who have worked and currently work for the company have all said positive things about the work environment as well as the quality of the treatment they receive. On their website, they state that they evaluate their partners' business practices for sustainability and ethics. If a company does not meet their standards, they do not partner with them. The only issues that people had involved work hours, while most said working for the company was pleasant. Overall, I think Seedling is a good brand that is trying to put more sustainable products on the market.