Our raw materials are obtained from sustainable sources, and we support organizations that are working toward replenishing species that are endangered. We work with nature, human and otherwise, to maintain harmony, believing in the rights of all persons and places. But we do not judge. What is best for one family's farm, or one country, at any particular time, may or may not be what's best for me or you. We offer organics and non-organics because we want people off synthetic soap first, even if they feel that they cannot afford a 100% organic product. Our thought is that real soap is an important first step, the step away from synthetics and harmful chemicals. Perhaps tomorrow's step is into organic, which would certainly please us.
We use essential oil of rosewood in our Bois de Rose and Orange Vetiver bars. We made a conscious decision to allow rosewood in our pantry, and here's why. But first a little background. Rosewood trees were harvested in large numbers from the 1930s through the 80s. Family farms elsewhere and throughout Missouri, USA, where we live, experienced the same broad wave of wood harvesting. In the States, trees were used for lumber and paper. In Brazil, rosewood was cut because of its valuable oil, which was distilled from the tree's trunk. Rosewood oil is highly prized for its therapeutic qualities, which are listed on the product page of our Bois de Rose Soap. By the 1980s, there was mounting concern about too many distilleries in Brazil producing rosewood oil. The trees were being overharvested. At the time, there was widespread concern about the deforestation of the Amazon, in general, and if you're old enough, you remember the "Save The Rainforest" rock and roll concerts of the day. Brazil wanted to modernize, but it heard the world. The Brazilian government stepped in and heavily regulated all forest industries. Many flavoring and cosmetic companies switched to synthetics, creating a much smaller market for real rosewood oil and reducing the pressure on the plant. Since 1992, the number of distilleries legally producing rosewood oil has dropped from dozens to only two. Still, rosewood was listed by the 2010 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES). Even more stringent laws with severe penalties, including jail, have been passed since that time. The Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) monitors distillation and harvest in a very precise way, mapping the rosewood, with each tree tracked via GPS coordinates. Seedlings are collected at the base of mother trees, dug up and transplanted in a nursery setting before being placed back in the forest. If a tree is cut, it must be replenished. Understand that even the Brazilian government acknowledges that there is not accurate information on how much rosewood really exists in Brazil, Peru or French Guinea. The Amazon is vast. There are still tracts with no roads and access only by river. There is a possibility that a great deal of rosewood still exists in the wild farther from the rivers. Most importantly, the sustainability of rosewood oil lies in this latest requirement of IBAMA which says that all the oil must come from cultivated trees only. The industry was scheduled to convert from extracting the oil from the entire tree to using just the renewable leaves and stems over a five-year period ending in 2015. Before, when rosewood was harvested only the main trunk of the tree was used. New methods allow for the oil to be extracted without harvesting the tree itself, and in a twist of market reality, small farms need our support to make the switch.
We do know about Linaloe wood, which is remarkably similar in chemistry to rosewood oil and almost identical in aroma. The therapeutic qualities of this oil are being evaluated. However, we want to be certain that we aren't jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If rosewood oil suppliers have met and overcome their challenge, we don't want to be part of a stampede to the next unregulated species just for marketing purposes. Stay tuned.
We use essential oil of sandalwood steam distilled from the wood of Australian Sandalwood trees in our Rose Sandalwood bar. Australian Sandalwoods are abundant. In no way are they endangered like the East Indian Sandalwood trees have become.