small farmed beauty

SUSTAINABILITY, + MORE, ZERO WASTE

Thoughts on Conservation, the Environment and Natural Beauty

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Perception is a funny thing. - everything we see and perceive as reality is only based on our experiences. Sometimes we think we are doing good but we are actually causing unseen harm.

I see this in the natural beauty sector. It's easy to assume that because something is labelled 'natural', 'environmentally safe' or 'vegan' that it's automatically a safe choice. Most of the time this is true, and we cannot expect everyone to invest time out of their busy days to investigate labels (trust me, I don't want to do that either -_- ), but creating a basis for understanding our environment can help take the guess work out of being sustainable.

What is "Sustainable", well it's being able to use a resource without infringing on its natural habitat or using so much of it that it becomes endangered (i.e. rosewood, etc).

Here are some key points in determining a products sustainability:

  1. Are the ingredients quick growing? Do they grow quickly like rosemary, orange, lemon, peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus for example. Slow growing, hard wood trees like Sandalwood , Frankincense and Rosewood are not sustainable, despite labels claiming that they are "verified sustainably farmed" - think about it, any tree that takes many years to develop has the potential (and usually is) illegally overharvested and bought from a black market.
    Bottom line: do we need to cosmetically use ingredients that harm the earth? No.

  2. Don't assume vegan is better for the earth. For example BEESWAX!!! I know, vegans think beeswax is wrong because it's an animal product. That determination is wrong because nature is not that simple. Beekeepers live and breathe for the safety and health of their bees, and the extraction of beeswax is a carefully managed procedure that does not harm or kill bees in anyway shape of form. Vegan waxes such as soy, palm, and carnauba wax is extremely unsustainable. Palm and carnauba come directly from trees that aren't sustainably grown - why use them? Beeswax comes from a caring farmer that values bees and the resource is 100% sustainable, whereas vegan waxes are not.

  3. Plastic containers or excessive packaging I always prefer to buy products that have a reusable or easily recyclable in your location.

These are just some quick and easy beginner tips to sustainable cosmetic choices! I'll be discussing this topic in a more depth in future blogs so stay tuned!

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SUSTAINABILITY

Everything is Connected - Why Small Farms Change the World (Part 1)

We talk a lot about how we want to #savetherainforest and planting trees... but the core of Ny’Ala started out with supporting small businesses - meaning we create products with materials bought from small farms or companies with a mission - and this alters how we effect the environment.

Every purchase we make has the power to shift the world in a positive direction. Sourcing locally, or from a sustainable small farm or initiative has incredible impact in our communities and environment. That was one of our huge motivators for creating Ny'Ala - prove that we can make good choices without compromising on quality or affordability (too much).

An example: Cheaply prices palm oil is the leading (nearly sole) cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Massive corporations need access to a hard oil in massive quantities in order to keep processed food and cosmetics shelf stable and cheap. Palm oil is found in absolutely everything from food to cosmetics to cleaners, used for fuel, etc.

A need is just a need. If we diversified where we got this oil, and cut it with other oils, there would be less impact. That is the bottom line - we choose the impact. If each company chose to use more local, or well-sourced ingredients, the social and environmental impact would be HUGE.

Poverty is a vicious cycle, and in a lot of countries the government does not offer assistance, so your left to your own devices to lift yourself out of that cycle. Supporting small business directly fights deforestation, mitigates chronic use of forest materials (like cutting endemic trees for charcoal), and allows people to have a sustainable job that isn’t demeaning (like gold or jewel mining, etc). 

I saw this is Ranomafana, where I was so blessed to have met the most amazing medicinal plant farmers. Unfortunately, with new medicines and technology the industry had crashed and the farmers families had moved onto to different jobs, or remained jobless.

In 2015, I had been hired for a short term job in Ranomafana to learn and work for a reforestation initiative at Centre Valbio, but also to talk about the new potential for essential oils in the natural body care and perfume industry worldwide.

The local medicinal plant farmers were so excited about the thought of having their traditional businesses back - and spoke of how it would positively impact the community and rainforest by allowing them to leave unsustainable jobs and choose better resources. They came up with a business plan and secured funding for a shared distillation machine. 

Now, in 2017, their business is developing and securing jobs for more people every day... and of course the essential oils are out of this world amazing! Deep green Geranium oil and wildly camphorous Ravintsara (and more to come!). These people have incredible talent and produce some of the highest quality oil I’ve ever used (it’s in our Magic and Revive Collections!).

It's amazing how this world is connected in every way - but it's even more amazing to be a part of the shift that's occurring... 

What a time to be inspired :)