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Is Your Fragrance Sustainable?

Perfumery may also seem benign, yet ingredients derived from vegetation and animals can involve critical environmental and ethical tolls

The perfumery could seem like a fairly benign company. It has to do with its own scent more than the rest. But as one of the world’s critical largest luxury industries, perfume production can have a major impact on certain flora and fauna valued for their rare scent profiles. Most body spray formulations are hidden behind one word on fragrance labels, always ‘Fragrance’ or ‘Fragrance’, making it complicated for the customer to know if a product is made with ethically sourced ingredients. The sustainability of the raw substances used in perfumery has not always been a major issue for shoppers, however environmental awareness of the reasons seems to be growing.

photo via FotoMediamatic The specific raw materials used in perfumery are extracted from animals and rare flora.

Most perfumes are designed using artificial elements these days, however there is a resurgence in vaporizing more natural and organic materials and some perfumes are referred to as “mixed media” blends that consume both synthetic and natural products. Although artificial elements are usually cheaper, there are clear advantages to natural fragrances that attract attention from producers and buyers alike, including the undeniable fact that they are much less likely to cause allergies, asthma or headaches. However, the use of herbal elements can also be challenging. Some crude plant substances have been so over-exploited by perfumers and adored by perfume lovers that they are now endangered, and the evaporation of animal-derived materials raises critical ethical concerns.

The perfume industry is one of the largest consumers of precious oils extracted from vegetation. although many plants are grown specifically to meet customer demands, there are some wildflowers that focus on the industry. Almost all of these are highly prized by perfumers due to their rarity, difficulty in harvesting, and because they have a special scent profile and add wonderful nuances to body spray formulations.

Sandalwood, which is each used in perfumery and conventional medicine, is one example. it is mainly collected in India, where it is now virtually extinct in the wild. The Indian government imposed strict rules on sandalwood harvesting in the 1960s, and as a result, production in the country declined dramatically. However, sandalwood is still listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. With sandalwood being threatened in the wild, Australia has entered the sandalwood market and is producing the timber sustainably. Environmentally responsible body spray brands consistently highlight the sandalwood base whether it is used in their formulations.

Although cultivation can provide an alternative option to unsustainable wild harvesting, it poses additional challenges. trees such as sandalwood and aquilaria—another tree commonly targeted for making body spray—proves sluggish. They take a long time to mature and the maturity is typical for oil extraction. but this potential that for farmers, it takes several years, sometimes up to 10 years, for a return on their investment. And when supply can’t keep up with demand, poachers turn to wild incense wood, particularly in the case of waterbucks. Aquilaria wood is loved for its agar resin, which is formed when the trees are infected with mildew. In some cases, these poachers destroy the wild population of centuries-old shrubs. In Hong Kong – which in Cantonese translates to fragrant or incense harbor – the wood is almost extinct in the wild with almost all of the older and larger timber having been illegally logged.

“Poachers are looking for bigger trees that are naturally infected as they have extra value, so these shrubs will be increasingly threatened,” said Gerard McGuirk, sales director of Asia Plantation Capital in Hong Kong, which is trying to save the timber with help for the operation of hydrocarbon plantations, the BBC informed. “Now in Hong Kong, you’d be lucky to find a 30-year-old tree.”

In addition to the threats they pose to certain flora, there are animal welfare issues involved in perfume production. Animal species have been slowly disappearing from perfumes in recent years, however some manufacturers, however, unfortunately use them and the style is actually being revived by some perfume makers. Animal products—including castor from beavers, glandular secretions from musk cats, perineal secretions from endangered musk deer, and amyl, a substance produced by using the digestive system of sperm whales—were historically used as stabilizers in old perfume formulations . Stabilizers are used to stabilize the aromas and to slow the cost of evaporation. Fragrances such as those derived from musk and civet can now be produced synthetically, however due to the excessive demand for herbal fragrances, some manufacturers have not prioritized the practice of synthetic ingredients.

These animal-derived materials are in most cases harshly produced. Ambergris is the only possible exception – it is usually considered cruelty-free as it is a type of whale waste and can be found on beaches and oceans after being expelled by whales. Spending it in the US is still illegal, as sperm whales are listed as an endangered species and the Endangered Species Act prohibits the use of any product from an endangered species, however it is still harvested in Europe and remains one of the rarest critical species elements of the business today.

However, even with ambergris, there is a challenge to whale poaching. Eleonora Scalseggi, co-owner of standardized petroleum company Hermitage Oils, says that in a series of events, her business has been approached using Americans trying to update huge quantities of low best amaryl. “Now, in my opinion, these are clear signs of poaching ambergris,” he says. “Floating ambergris is found stranded in extremely small quantities. It is unusual to find massive pieces, and even if they do, they are never many kilos. It has been recently killed. It could actually come from a dead, beached whale, but the suspicion is simply too great.”

Civet cat secretions are a tricky ingredient. In Ethiopia, for example, nutmegs are caught from the wild and stored on home farms, a practice that goes back centuries. Animals are usually kept in small cages through which they can rarely move. Cages can be found in dark rooms with no daylight hours or ventilation with a relentless fire source to create a smoky atmosphere – warmer temperatures are thought to facilitate musk production. As a result of extreme temperature fluctuations between day and night, stress and painful extraction methods, there is a high mortality cost among captive animals.

Castoreum derived from beaver sacs has always been a very popular perfume ingredient, especially in extravagant perfumes. As much as many fashion designer perfumes have replaced it with synthetic parts, the herbal kind can also be found in area of ​​interest perfumes. It was so common in early perfume creations and for medicinal applications that by the sixteenth century, beavers had been hunted to extinction in Scotland. In 2016, the rodent was reintroduced to its plant habitat. It’s expensive and basically impossible to get secretions from live beavers, so they have to be hunted down and killed – and sacked and dyed – to get this aromatic ingredient.

Perhaps, perhaps the most notorious unethical animal product is venison. However, use of the musk has declined, today six musk subspecies are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List, and a seventh is recorded as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. However, deer populations are declining and the main threat is the illegal pursuit of musk for the perfume industry in addition to medicinal use in Russia, Mongolia and China. Deer musk can also be extracted from live animals, however they are usually killed to get rid of their glands. Musk is taken from male deer, and to locate a deer that will yield enough musk to be economical, about 25 grams, consultants estimate three to 5 deer are killed. Non-target animals are also regularly killed by hunters looking for deer.

Body spray manufacturers can steal a few runs against sustainability. Rare uncooked substances can be sustainably sourced, replaced with different vegetable oils with identical aroma profiles, switched to artificial alternatives, or avoided entirely when no sustainable alternatives exist. Although even some of these alternatives can be complicated. For example, some artificial alternatives are not considered eco-friendly, and some vegetable oils are offered under normal names, yet they are extracted from a few different plants, making export certification extremely complicated to handle.

From an eco-consumer’s point of view, there’s only one technique to make sure fragrances are sustainable and cruelty-free: assess how clear a fragrance company is. considering it’s still somewhat of a new fad, a few small indie brands are starting to pave the way for a more responsible approach to fragrance manufacturing and ingredient sourcing, and increasing transparency in the way, and a number of well-respected Body spray companies have also begun to make commitments to sustainability.

You don’t have to stop using fragrances if you’re an environmentally conscious consumer. logically, you need to be more careful when you buy your next bottle and look for manufacturers who value nature and whose ethos is not only more effective about using ethically sourced raw substances but also advertising sustainability throughout the trade.

Kamila Abdurashitova Kamila Abdurashitova, also known as Kamila Aubre, is an independent creator and unbiased perfumer. He holds an MA in Political and Social Science from Lancaster University. Meanwhile she lives in Belgium and designs natural fragrances, as well as promoting an ecological approach to beauty and fragrance products.

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