THE MOMENT I BECAME AN ENVIRONMENTALIST
When I was in elementary school we had an assembly about the Amazon rainforest. We learned it was being destroyed for timber, but that it was essential to our survival and the survival of the native species. I remember we were asked to sell something to raise money to buy acreage in the rainforest, and I had a t-shirt that said Save the Rainforest with a colorful macaw on it, which I wore far too often. I was so proud of however many acres I personally helped to ‘save’. That was honestly a big turning point for me as a child, and helped solidify my path towards environmental stewardship for the rest of my life.
LAUREL SKIN AND SOURCING FROM THE AMAZON
Camu Camu, Acerola, Plumeria, Acai, Cacao and Palo Santo. These plants are dear to my heart, used in our products, and are all sourced from the Amazon rainforest.
While we talk extensively about our ingredients that are grown domestically, a few of our ingredients require tropical climates and are sourced from the Amazon. Reading about the devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest in recent years has shined a light on that region and all that ethically goes along with sourcing there. Considering Indigenous Peoples and animals being harmed or displaced through fires is a major public concern, however in my opinion, mindless consumerism is doing the most destruction.
I’d like to touch on our ingredients that do come from the Amazon, and how those are grown and sourced. But let’s rewind first. One of the primary reasons I source our ingredients as locally as possible is oversight; ethical and environmental oversight, as well as quality control. It is impossible for any brand to source all ingredients directly from their original source. There are always middlemen or distributors involved. In fact, most brands don’t source anything direct and leave that entirely up to their third-party manufacturers or distributors. Ingredients often pass through multiple secondary businesses before reaching the brand or manufacturer. This process is disconnected from the source itself, and can lead to a lack of awareness and responsibility in harm done. If I were to source in that way, then I would feel disconnected from the Earth, the land, and the people who steward it. I also would have no control over how these ingredients are harvested, processed, stored, and so on. This is why Laurel Skin chooses to go through the painstaking process of sourcing as many ingredients directly from the source as possible – which at this point is well over 90%. Sourcing challenges me in every possible way, and international sourcing specifically is a massive undertaking.
Now, back to the Amazon! Our ingredients that come from the rainforests of South America are Camu Camu, Acerola, Cacao, Acai, Palo Santo, and Plumeria. Timber and cattle are both large industries in South America, and both demand rainforest destruction. The plants that I list above actually grow within the rainforest, without the need for mono-cropping or deforestation. This is incredibly important – to farm in a way that mimics Nature’s surroundings is also known as “regenerative farming”. We do not work with ingredients that are wild-harvested from the Amazon, because that act depletes Nature’s resources in an unbalanced way. We instead look to Indigenous communities that are generationally connected to the land and are farming in a reciprocal and harmonious way with Nature.
HOW THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY AFFECTS THE AMAZON
I have seen for years that the beauty industry’s sourcing system is broken. We are so disconnected to where our ingredients come from. Do you consider where your Acai comes from when you make your morning smoothie? How can we be assured it was not wild-harvested to the point of depletion in a specific region? Where does the chocolate in our face masks come from? Just because it is organic, how can we be sure it didn’t involve child labor? As a brand, we have a responsibility to not just take a third, fourth, or fifth party’s word for it that these ingredients are grown both sustainably and ethically – in a way that supports both people and planet. Green beauty brands cannot be complacent about worldly environmental concerns like deforestation, plant and animal endangerment, harm to Indigenous Peoples, or unethical labor practices. When we are profiting from these ingredients, we then have a responsibility to the full supply chain, including Mother Earth directly. We have to restore our own connection between us, these plants, and where they come from in order to shift the way sourcing is done.
We want you to know how much thought and care goes into sourcing every single ingredient for Laurel Skin.
Love to the Amazon and our planet.
We originally shared this blog to raise money for the 2019 fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest. The weekend of August 23-25, we donated 100% of our profits to non-profits directly focused on supporting local Indigenous Peoples in Brazil.