Do Pure Essential Oils Deplete Natural Resources?
We Use Essential Oils From Sustainably Grown Plants
It is our practice to purchase essential oils, as well as other raw materials, that are harvested or made in an environmentally and ethically responsible manner. The harvesting of most plant material used in essential oil production is done responsibly.
As a company committed to making natural products, we are also committed to our planet and its people. So we do our research and buy from companies that share our commitment.
Using any raw material to the point of extinction makes no sense. When we know that the plant from which an essential oil is extracted is “endangered” or “threatened” we simply choose not to use it. For example, at this time we do not use Rosewood, Sandalwood or Frankincense essential oils.
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) trees are tropical and grow primarily in Brazil. The essential oil, which is very valuable in perfumery, is derived through steam distillation of the bark and wood chips of the tree. The decline in rosewood is due to massive over-harvesting practices for the precious sap and well as its beautiful wood. It is also a victim of deforestation. Rosewood is now listed as an endangered species.
Sandalwood (Santalum album) is one of the oldest known perfume oils. It is extracted by steam distillation from the heartwood of the trees. A sandalwood tree must grow over 30 years old before the wood is suitable for distillation. After that, the entire tree is cut down, even the roots which contain valuable heartwood. Trees are being illegally cut, leading to serious depletion and often indigenous people are subjected to unsafe or unfair labor practices. Some companies are substituting Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicta) which has a different and less aromatic scent.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) was listed in the IUCN List of Threatened Species in 2008. The oil has been used for thousands of years. It is derived from the sap of the tree. Traditional methods of harvesting were done judiciously with just a few cuts in the bark and then the tree was allowed to rest for a year. Unfortunately, due to increasing demand, the sap is being over-harvested and the trees are dying and becoming scarce.
According to The World Commission on Environment and Development, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability is our goal.
Some of these essential oils may soon be available in a sustainable form. For example, Rosewood tree planting is now considered a viable alternative to logging as it can support both reforestation and sustainable agriculture thanks to sales of the essential oil extracted.
We will only buy oils like these if we can source them from companies with transparent supply chains who harvest responsibly from sustainably managed tree plantations and groves.
If a company is selling products made from threatened or endangered species, you should be asking about the origin of essential oil. Be careful that the supplier is not trying to sell you an inferior or an adulterated product or claiming sustainability that is not true.
True story: Some skincare companies that use fragrance oils argue that synthetic fragrances protect plant life. I must say, I wonder what they eat?