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The Square Root of Sustainability

We delve into the sustainability movement within the soft drinks industry, exploring how one brand are paving the way with their uniquely British product

words by Elliot RAMSEY

With a growing consciousness surrounding what we consume, where it is sourced from and how it is produced, many drinks companies have begun to implement sustainable practices in order to reduce waste, preserve the environment and champion local and seasonal produce. In the modern world, in which our impact on the environment has become increasingly apparent, the public mood has turned towards socially-conscious businesses that operate with environmental awareness in mind. Square Root Soda, the London-based, small-batch drinks brand, are one such company, placing a passion for sustainability at the very fore of what they do.

Founded in 2012 by Ed Taylor and Robyn Simms, Square Root Soda began in the couple’s kitchen where they initially began producing ginger beer. Quickly blown away by the demand for their products, the pair established their Soda Works in 2013 and have since continued to produce innovative soft drinks, driven by their desire to offer consumers a high quality alternative to alcoholic beverages. Last month, we joined the team on their road trip to Tomlinson’s Farm in Pudsey, West Yorkshire (where they source the raspberry rhubarb used in their seasonal rhubarb soda) to get a sneak peek at the latest crop and to learn a bit more about what makes their soda a truly unique, natural product.

Farmer Robert, at the helm of his fourth generation family farm, is passionate about growing the finest quality rhubarb. Located in the infamous Rhubarb Triangle, a 9-square-mile area famous for producing early forced rhubarb, Tomlinson’s is a cornerstone of the region’s rich farming history. Rhubarb, native to central Asia, thrives in West Yorkshire’s cold, wet winters and some of the rhubarb roots on Robert’s 140-year-old farm have even been in the ground since the late 1800s. The only rhubarb producer left in West Yorkshire to use pre-WWII crowns, Tomlinson’s now supply raspberry rhubarb exclusively to Square Root, ensuring that the highest quality produce goes into their drinks.

Through choosing to source their rhubarb from Tomlinson’s, Square Root are reducing haulage costs and championing quality, British seasonal produce. Once the rhubarb is in their hands, the whole process of creating their sodas is focused around ensuring as little intervention as possible from fruit to bottle. The sodas are produced by hand by a small team in Square Root’s Soda Works in East London, and have a guaranteed zero artificial additives, making them a healthy and responsible alternative to many of the market’s mass-produced and less environmentally-conscious beverages.

As co-founder Ed Taylor notes: ‘Sustainability has always been at the forefront of our minds. That’s why we’ve always had a seasonal element to our products – it’s never made sense to me to try and prolong the season of something by importing it from the other side of the world, which has huge CO2 emissions implications. And because we’re also buying from farmers, we can communicate directly with them – so if there’s produce they’ve had rejected from a supermarket, we can react to that and save the excess from going to waste.’

Unsurprisingly, Square Root’s seasonal rhubarb soda has garnered praise on a national level; in 2018 it was awarded the accolade of Best Non-Alcoholic Drink at the Great British Food Awards, demonstrating that fresh, sustainably-sourced ingredients and small-batch production can still pack a real punch. Currently in the process of installing a new automated package line, the team are putting measures in place to become more efficient, reduce waste and continue to produce the best drinks they can. 

Square Root Soda are setting the benchmark in the drinks industry by championing the very best in seasonal produce, nurturing relationships with British suppliers, and keeping their sights firmly set on creating the highest quality soft drinks underpinned by a homegrown, sustainable ethos. EJ

Head to to view the full Square Root Soda range, to shop online and to read more about their sustainability pledges