White Sage at Meadowsweet: a lesson in ethics, respect and sustainability

What is White Sage you say? White sage is one of the most popular smudging plants used today. The White sage smudging tradition is passed down to us from Native American traditions, although each tribe also has their own sacred plants (in addition to and possibly different than White Sage). There are many opinions on whether using White Sage is cultural appropriation or not. We have always carried and sold several smudging options including cedar, sages, and incense. In keeping with our policies on the ethical harvesting of plants, we also want to respect the cultures that all of our herbal traditions have come from.

In our efforts to respect these traditions, and to also respect the taboos against selling some of these items, we have decided to not “profit” from the sale of these items any longer. All profits will be donated to the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center, or other non-profit community building services as an effort to “Pay it Forward” and to also allow folks who wish to purify their spaces to be able to get the tools they need to do this.

That being said, we are concerned, as many herbalists are, about the sustainable harvest of plants not only for their continued availability but also for the habitat and wild populations of these plants. Two smudging items that are of concern at this time are Palo Santo and White Sage. Other incense plants such as Sweetgrass, Myrrh and Frankincense are also under heavy harvesting pressure.

There are many different elements that shape the habitat for these plants. Environmental destruction, climate change and over-harvesting can all push a plant to potential extinction. Our policy is to only purchase commercially and organically grown incense and smudging products. However we have found another option that feels good to us. We are currently only buying White Sage wands from the Red Lake Chippewa tribe in Minnesota. This purchase, along with our policy of “Pay if Forward” brings the sale and resale of this sacred plant full circle within the Indigenous Communities we strive to support and honor. We hope you support us in being respectful. There are many levels to ethical and conscious medicinal plant consumption, and we truly believe we all will be a better herbal community for the effort.

Kelly Needs