If you’re going for a hike in the woods, you might bring along a field guide to help you identify wildflowers or fungi. Often pocket-sized, field guides provide a base of knowledge for identifying wildlife and understanding taxonomy, meant to be referenced right in the field. If you work for a small company trying to lessen its environmental impact, a microbial sciences company called Seed hopes you’ll refer to its new field guide on going carbon negative, meant to be a primer to the complex world of corporate sustainability.
Seed’s main work is developing ways to use bacteria to impact both human health through probiotics, and environmental health by researching how bacteria can advance biodiversity, for instance by helping honeybees resist infection. (Seed recently raised $40 million in Series A funding, with plans to create oral care, skincare, and infant health products.) “These are big ideas that are really misunderstood and very confusing and murky,” says cofounder and co-CEO Ara Katz. To Seed, it’s important to deeply understand that science, and help other people understand it too. The company has launched Instagram courses and its own “Seed University” for influencers.
As Seed worked toward sustainability, it wanted to learn more about the world of carbon offsets and how to go carbon negative, and it decided to turn all that information into a resource for other companies. The field guide, which runs about 80 pages, is not meant to be the final word on how to run a sustainable company, and Seed is open about that—it’s titled “An Open Source, Incomplete Pocket Field Guide to Carbon Offsets (and Other Ideas) Vol. 01.” It’s meant to be one tool, and a call to action, Katz says, for others to build on this sustainability research and work.