Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you make a purchase through my link, at no additional cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.
In recent years, essential oils have gained popularity for their aromatic qualities and potential health benefits. However, it is essential to consider the environmental impact associated with the production and use of these oils.
In this blog post, we will explore the ethical aspects of essential oils, including sustainability, sourcing practices, and responsible consumption.
By making informed choices, we can enjoy the benefits of essential oils while minimizing harm to our planet. 🙂
The number of plants used to make the oil v.s. how much oil is extracted is tremendous. According to Eco Watch, to produce one pound of essential oils, it takes:
- 10,000 lbs of rose petals
- 250 lbs of lavender
- 6,000 lbs of Melissa plant
- 1,500 lemons
Plants are made of only a tiny amount of essential oil. One whole plant contains only about 1-5 percent of essential oil, so making just one bottle of essential oils requires many plants.
Some oils are more difficult to extract than others because the oils are stored in tiny cavities or ducts within the plant rather than on the exterior.
Weather is also a factor that determines how much oil a plant produces every year.
When choosing essential oils, it’s crucial to prioritize brands that practice sustainable sourcing. Look for companies that engage in environmentally responsible practices, such as:
- Organic and pesticide-free farming: Support brands that prioritize organic cultivation and avoid using harmful pesticides and chemicals. This helps protect ecosystems, soil health, and the health of farmers.
- Regenerative farming practices: Some brands follow regenerative agriculture methods that focus on soil conservation, biodiversity, and ecosystem restoration. These practices promote long-term sustainability and help mitigate climate change.
Fair Trade and Ethical Practices
Consider supporting brands that uphold fair trade and ethical practices throughout their supply chains. This ensures that essential oil production benefits local communities and workers, contributing to their social and economic well-being.
Look for certifications such as Fair Trade or direct partnerships with small-scale farmers, which help foster sustainable livelihoods.
Certain essential oils are derived from plants that are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Some of these plants that are being used in enormous quantities are endangered due to over-harvesting or habitat destruction.
- Sandalwood (Santalum album)(which is listed as vulnerable)
- Rosewood (Dalbergia abrahamii)
- Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
- Aniba (Aniba rosaeodora)
To produce essential oils, they are either farmed in controlled environments or wild harvested. Wild harvested oils are from plants that grow native to their location and are harvested to ensure the sustainable continuation of the species.
To minimize the impact on biodiversity, choose oils derived from abundant and sustainably cultivated plants. Additionally, some companies actively support conservation efforts by replanting or donating to organizations working to protect endangered species and their habitats.
It’s essential to use essential oils responsibly to minimize waste and promote sustainability:
- Dilution and proper usage: Follow recommended dilution guidelines to avoid excessive use of essential oils. This ensures their longevity and reduces unnecessary consumption.
- Choose quality over quantity: Invest in high-quality oils that are pure and potent. This means you can use smaller amounts and achieve the desired effects, reducing overall consumption.
- Reusable and eco-friendly packaging: Opt for brands that use recyclable or reusable packaging materials to minimize waste. Glass bottles and eco-friendly packaging options are more sustainable choices.
Companies don’t have to disclose which pesticides are used on the crops that are used for essential oils, and there are currently no organic certifications specifically for essential oils. There are NO FDA-certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils.
Obviously, making this sort of product will be expensive in terms of both labor and raw materials. So if you’re buying the cheaper option, it’s more likely to have been sourced unethically and may not be as pure as it claims to be.
Many essential oils on the market are heavily contaminated with synthetic chemicals.
Oils that are high in phenols, such as cinnamon, can cause skin irritation. However, essential oils are generally considered to be safe when combined with a base oil, like coconut oil. They are most likely harmless when used for minor health problems and when complementary to therapy.
Recycling and Proper Disposal
Most essential oils are extremely flammable. Flammable oils are considered household hazardous waste in small quantities, and the containers holding those items cannot be recycled unless the oil is washed from the container.
Some cities require that they be thrown in the trash rather than recycled, as even trace amounts of flammable liquid can pose a danger to recycling plant workers.
That being said, removing essential oils must be done carefully. Many oils are toxic to aquatic life and can have long-lasting impacts on marine ecosystems. Most also come with a warning that the oils themselves should not come in contact with a water supply or groundwater, meaning they should never be dumped down the drain or toilet.
If a bottle of oil has expired, the best option for disposing of the rest of the oil is to use it with a passive diffuser or to add it to homemade cleaning products for the scent.
If an oil is contaminated or expired and cannot be used, it must be disposed of through a hazardous-waste collection service, which can be found through local waste-management programs.
Dispose of essential oil bottles and packaging responsibly. Check local recycling guidelines and recycle glass bottles whenever possible. Some brands may offer bottle return programs or refill options, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy.
By considering the environmental impact of essential oils and making ethical choices, we can enjoy their benefits while being responsible stewards of the planet. Prioritize sustainable sourcing, fair trade practices, and responsible consumption.
Let’s support brands that prioritize environmental sustainability and make a positive impact on both people and the planet. Together, we can create a more ethical and environmentally conscious approach to using essential oils.
If we aren’t there to take the extra steps to check these essential oil companies, it’s going to be easy for them to fall into harmful ecological practices because this industry is so resource-intensive.
I really hope you learned a lot and thank you for letting me share this important information with you.
Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and if you have any helpful tips or more information, please share! I’d love to hear from you. 💚
Thanks so much for reading,