Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Is Your Sandalwood For Real?

Question: I read on the internet that almost all Sandalwood when listed as an ingredient in perfume is synthetic but you say your perfume is organic! Is that true?

Answer: Yes! Not all my perfumes are 100% organic but they all contain 95% organic ingredients or more. Sandalwood is an endangered species. At the time I first bought my supply of Sandalwood this was not the case. But because I was and still am such a minor player in the world of perfumery it wasn't really considered an issue. I bought a fraction of an ounce because the price was so high and use it sparingly in all the products I make.

The last time I bought Sandalwood I wanted to get quite a bit more—a whole 1 oz bottle! This is a ridiculously small amount but my supplier, a small one-woman importer with a big heart, sold me a little of what she had left in stock but informed me that she no longer had a source that harvested Sandalwood sustainably and she was encouraging everyone to buy something else. She sold me a sample size of a couple of other essential oils and I already use them in some of the products I make. I will most likely have to switch over entirely to new formulas in the near future.

It's a sad day in the world of natural perfumery. It used to be a field made up entirely of tiny micro-businesses and small businesses like myself. Now large corporate entities have jumped in—there's GOLD in them thar organic hills!—and all hell is breaking loose.

Most of us care A LOT about the environment. That's one of the reasons we went the all-natural product route in the first place. But some of the bigger players just thought about the bottom line...at first. Now the damage extends far enough that even the big players who unconsciously pushed the demand for these ingredients through the roof have to stop and take a second look.

It's not too late to turn this situation around but it's going to take time. Sandalwood trees with high quality oil take 50-100 years or more to grow to harvestable age. And even some of the alternatives are getting scarcer. New regulations are on the way but there's no doubt in my mind that in the next 10 years or so news of this recovery period will be on everybody's mind. It's going to have to be—we can't keep destroying the earth at such a rapid rate. And figuring out how to do organic agriculture sustainably on a worldwide scale is just a tip of the iceberg.

No comments: