Prudent Practices for Sustainable Aromatherapy
You may be aware of our devotion to providing you with sustainable products and working with you to reduce our impact on this earth. Given that we now focus so heavily on zero waste products, we get a lot of questions about how to decrease waste when working with essential oils. You also ask us how much of an impact essential oil production has on the earth and how we can be mindful of that.
Impact of Production
Essential oils are plant materials that have been distilled down into super potent products. It takes acres and acres of grown plant material to create a kilogram of a certain oil. This is just one reason that we should be mindful of the quantities and concentrations of essential oils that we use — and one reason why we always say, “Less is more!” It’s not just because they’re potent and can be hard on our bodies in high concentrations, it’s also because it takes a lot for the oils to get to you.
One of our jobs here at The Apothecary is to ensure that the oils we are selling are sustainable. We stay informed of current events and factors that might make it irresponsible for us to carry specific oils. For example, we no longer sell rosewood, because the plant itself is once again endangered, due to black market rosewood furniture production. When we learn of things like this, we act accordingly.
Another excellent example of this is sandalwood. It takes almost ten years for the sandalwood tree to reach a level of maturity that will produce a saleable essential oil (that explains the price!). Because of this, we practice prudence when including sandalwood in our synergy blends so that we do not contribute to the over selling of sandalwood oils, being mindful of the need to protect those trees. There are also different types of sandalwood (Hawaiian sandalwood is my favourite) that you can special order if you really want that special smell or you want to put it in a perfume. You’ve got options!
If we don’t carry an oil and you’re wondering why, you can always ask us — there is always a reason. We are doing the research for you!
Reducing Essential Oil Packaging
Now let’s talk about reducing your footprint in regards to essential oils! Specifically, reusing instead of recycling.
If you’re interested in reusing your essential oil bottles, you have two options: 1) buy your favourite essential oil (one you know you’re going to go through in a one to two year time period — maybe lavender, geranium or ylang ylang?) in bulk and bottle it down using essential oil bottles that you already have; or 2) visit our in-store Blending Bar, where you can buy essential oils in bulk or by the drop, or simply have your (again, clean) bottles refilled. If you’re in Calgary, this is a perfect option!
First, you’ll need to clean your empty essential oil bottles using lots of soap and hot water (remove the orifice reducer first — unfortunately that needs to go in the garbage since it’s too small to recycle and it gets degraded by the essential oils over time). You need to emulsify the essential oils, and also sanitize the bottle. Let air dry thoroughly before refilling.
Once your bottle is refilled, you will simply need a new orifice reducer (we sell these!) — and don’t forget to label the bottle!
So let’s talk about recycling, for those times you can’t reuse. Your essential oil bottle is recyclable — clean it well (as described above), peel off the label and pop it into your recycling bin! The orifice reducers and lids will need to go in the garbage because of their size. At least here in Calgary, any plastic item smaller than the size of your palm cannot go into recycling — but check with your local recycling service to be sure.
I hope this helps you envision how you can make less of an impact on the earth while still enjoying essential oils. It really is all about being mindful of where things are coming from and how we can reuse wherever possible!