As we start the year with good intentions and a focus on health we thought we’d start our sustainability campaign with Wunder Workshop. This London based functional food brand makes organic and ethically sourced turmeric based products. It focuses on consumption with purpose, by harvesting the power of plants for the ultimate wellness ritual. From oils, to teas to latte blends find your way to include turmeric in your diet and here’s an interview with founder Zoe Lind van’t Hof to tell us why.
What inspired you to set up Wunder Workshop?
My biggest inspiration to start Wunder Workshop has been my late mother who had been very passionate about health and wellbeing since her early twenties, so by the time I was born she had nearly 20 years of experience. This meant I was surrounded by interesting books about traditional medicine, the power of plants and how to create all kinds of natural remedies from an early age. I grew up eating organic and locally sourced vegetarian food, we grew many of our own vegetables and herbs and we used to go to very down-to-earth Ayurvedic health retreats in Sri Lanka.
After dabbling in different career paths (from politics to interior design) I realised that my true purpose lay in what was around me all my life, health and plants. This is when I decided to go back to Sri Lanka and find an organic farm that uses sustainable and ethical farming techniques with whom I could work together to bring some of their incredible plant knowledge in the form of herbs and spices back to London and started Wunder Workshop – focusing on turmeric and consumption with purpose.
Please can you tell us about the inspiration you had with Ayurvedic principles and how you used this in your products?
Ayurveda has such deep and vast knowledge about the plant world, our mental wellbeing and our bodies. Throughout my upbringing and trips to Sri Lanka where my mother and I spent time learning from Ayurvedic doctors, I was fascinated by it. The main philosophy I take from Ayurveda is to understand that all our bodies are different (doshas), and that there is no one solution for everyone, secondly that health isn’t just what we eat but also our way of thinking and mental wellbeing. Thirdly, that we must focus on prevention over cure. The products we create vary from powder blends, teas, honeys, and oil blends and incorporate these philosophies. We advocate to use our products in a mindful way, they are not a quick fix, but a long-term investment for your health.
You source your items ethically and sustainably, how challenging was it to ensure this is throughout your processes, production and products?
It’s hugely challenging and disheartening at times. We always feel a bit like lonely eco warriors out there in the world of sourcing production, ingredients and packaging. It’s so exciting to see a growing interest from the consumer and media but the system for it isn’t in place yet. We try and find out every little detail how things are produced and where they are sourced and how recyclable they are. It’s a thorough and long process, but so worth it, especially for my own conscience, as a conscious consumer. We are proud to know exactly where and especially how our turmeric and other Sri Lankan spices are grown. Using one of the most sustainable farming techniques called Forest Gardening, which is very similar to Biodynamic standards. It’s not using monoculture farming, and therefore maintains Sri Lanka’s natural biodiversity without depleting the soil of its essential nutrients. We are talking to the UN Food department and looking to form a partnership in order to source even more ingredients that have been grown in the most sustainable way. We also reinvest 1% of our revenue back into community projects, and plant trees in the Amazon to offset our CO2 emissions.
What are all the benefits of Wunder Workshop?
The list is endless, but I would say the two main focuses are anti-inflammation and stress relief. Two huge issues of our modern-day society, and very much interlinked.
Where do you hope to see Wunder Workshop in the future and what are your ambitions?
I want to work with additional small farms to our Sri Lankan suppliers, I want to expand our offering sourced solely from biodynamic, forest gardened, and wild-harvesting farms, and thereby creating a market for small farm holders. I want to avoid having to use mono-cultural farms and maintain our 100% organic status. I want to have the most environmentally friendly packaging (we have been working on this for the last few years, so slowly getting there). These are just a few of the key points on my daily manifestation list.
Why is being ethical and sustainable important to you?
As a conscious consumer, I strongly believe in our spending power, and that our daily choices have a huge impact on the world we are creating. I have been curious since I was little to know where things come from, whether it’s food or clothing. I grew up in a vegetarian family and we bought all our food from local organic markets or directly from our garden, so I was very lucky to see and understand where food comes from and appreciating the importance of growing things organically. But when I found out about fashion and its negative impact on the environment and the people that work in this industry, I decided to never buy fast fashion again. I now only buy second hand clothing or from small ethical fashion brands, or I have it repaired – that’s why businesses like The Restory are the future!
What is a favourite ethical/sustainable brand you would recommend?
Skincare: BySarah London
Fashion: Zazi Vintage
Food: Riverford Farms
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to support ethical and sustainable businesses?
To first understand what their interpretation of ethical and sustainable is. The words get thrown around quite easily nowadays, and I guess it somewhat also involves your personal approach as it depends where your values lie. But I would also recommend being patient and understanding, ethical and sustainable business are usually not as fast or consistent like the big players. Whether that means, that sometimes something is out of stock or that for example the texture/look/material isn’t the same as a previous batch. These are little things that are harder to control if one is trying to do it all right and when things aren’t done as mechanically. But I would also advise to be proud of yourself, for taking the extra time and effort to investigate something more deeply. It’s a beautiful and positive step into creating more awareness and hopefully all our small steps accumulate to positively changing the world.