Herbs, and Medicine, and Workshops, Oh My!
I was first introduced to the herb store Tippecanoe in Milwaukee through a family friend, who talked about the amazing (and sustainable!) products offered there. Immediately intrigued, I visited Tippecanoe for myself, and to say I was impressed is an understatement.
Since my first visit almost a year ago, I have tried many products from this store, all of which have been high-quality and locally-made. Some of my personal favorites are their Elderberry syrup, Kava Hot Cocoa Mix, and Peppermint Essential Oil Roll-On, which are sold in glass containers and have gotten me through school-related stress and unwelcome winter colds.
The thing that stuck out to me most about Tippecanoe is their focus on being “community herbalists”, meaning that they source their herbs and products locally, from local farms or organic sources. In addition, owners Kyle and Serena aim to teach people about herbs through classes and workshops and even nature walks to see these local herbs in the wild.
In a world where you can buy virtually any product online, Tippecanoe is a refreshing way to connect with local, sustainable businesses and the earth. In their “about” section of their website, Kyle and Serena describe the main point of their business perfectly: “We care about our Earth, and we care about you.”
In an interview with Kyle, I asked him about his sustainable practices, why sustainability matters to him, and why it is so important to shop locally.
What are some ways that Tippecanoe focuses on sustainable practices?
Kyle shared that he asks neighbors, customers and friends for plastic wrap, bubble wrap and any other packaging/shipping materials to reuse for their own shipments. I was truly SHOCKED when Kyle told me that in their almost 5 years of operation, they have never purchased any shipping materials! Even in this stressful time, Kyle manages to reach out to people via Facebook and other social media in order to reuse packaging materials. Another aspect of sustainability that is utilized at Tippecanoe is through their processing of medicine with herbs.
Instead of throwing the remainder of used herbs away, Kyle puts all of them in the compost. In my visits to Tippecanoe, I have also seen their bulk herb section, where people are encouraged to bring their own jars or bags (and receive a discount if they do so). A large portion of their products are packaged in glass bottles, making it easy to bring back for a refill (and receive a discount for refills)! Overall, my interview with Kyle showed me that by getting things locally, businesses like Tippecanoe are taking a burden off of shipping and transportation while also providing incentives for customers to act sustainably. For Kyle, his motivation comes from trying “to have a healthy bioregion and be stewards to the land and support those treating the land well; which translates into making amazing herbal medicines.”
Why does sustainability matter to you, as a small business?
Kyle says as a small business, they are “saving rather than purchasing” and that it is really a matter of perspective. In reality, by reusing other people’s packaging materials, Kyle doesn’t have to spend money on more shipping supplies, bottles, or plastic wrap, saving him money and adding significantly less waste to the environment. Kyle claims that when it comes down to it, Tippecanoe’s customers and clients make it easier because they understand the community aspect. As said by Kyle, “when they’re close to the community, people can get community feedback and work together as a community. It's a mindset of valuing the earth, the community, and being flexible with accepting gradual change, improvement, and adaptation.” By focusing on the community aspect, Kyle is able to form a connection with customers that makes it easier to promote sustainable practices. So don’t forget those reusable jars or bags when you go check out the store!
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
According to Kyle, it's important to shop locally because you can get a professional recommendation from someone in the community. When buying online, you may be going off a recommendation that is only about marketing and profit making. Shopping locally is so important because we want there to be local farms and businesses in the future! Kyle and I discussed how we’ve noticed that in smaller-scale projects there is often more attention paid to details and quality, whereas large-scale processes don’t have that same focus. In supporting your community and your local world, you are supporting your neighbors and other community businesses.
START LOCALLY, THINK GLOBALLY.
Tippecanoe is an incredible store that has taught me so much about how local businesses can take small steps to be more sustainable. Not only does this store emphasize sustainability, but they also focus on the connections within the community. This sense of community is essential in creating change and spreading the message of sustainability in your own towns and cities!
See my fav products pictured below and check out there website for more products: