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.
Camu Camu, Acerola, Plumeria, Acai, Cacao and Palo Santo. These plants are dear to my heart, used in our products, and come from the Amazon rainforest. This weekend (Friday-Sunday, August 23rd-25th) we are donating 100% of our profits from our sales to Rainforest Alliance. They have committed to giving 100% of their donations in the month of August directly to local groups on the ground in the Brazilian Amazon that are fighting to protect the land from future deforestation, and defend & advance the rights of the indigenous communities.
While we talk extensively about most of 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 has been difficult to witness for multiple reasons. I’m considering indigenous people and animals being harmed or displaced, and that is a primary concern for me, as well as how essential the Amazon rainforest is to the Earth’s climate overall.
I’d like to touch on our ingredients that do come from the Amazon, and how those are grown and harvested. 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. As a small brand (and even most medium and large brands as well), it’s impossible to source all ingredients directly from their original source. There are always middlemen or distributors involved. Ingredients often pass through multiple secondary businesses before reaching the brand or manufacturer. This process leaves me feeling disconnected from the source itself. I feel disconnected from the Earth, the land, and the people who steward it. I also have no control over how these ingredients are processed. Sourcing challenges me in every possible way, and international sourcing – well that is a massive undertaking. Sourcing domestically allows me to have more oversight over our ingredients.
That said, a few ingredients we use only grow in international climates. Specifically, our ingredients that come from the Amazon rainforest 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 so incredibly important. They are also not wild harvested to the point of depletion, at the expense of our planet and its indigenous peoples. They are grown on certified organic land and are consistently replenished.
I have seen for years that the beauty industry’s sourcing system is broken, and this is what I mean. We are so incredibly disconnected to where our ingredients come from. Do you consider where your Acai comes from when you make your morning smoothie? Or where the chocolate in your face mask comes from? As brand owners, we have a responsibility to not just take a third, fourth, or fifth party’s word for it that these ingredients are grown sustainably and ethically. As green beauty brands we cannot be complacent about worldly environmental concerns like deforestation and indigenous community displacement when we are profiting from these ingredients. 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.
Lastly, if you are unable to donate to an Amazon rainforest non-profit, or if you don’t need Laurel products at this time, there are still things you can do. The first is mindful consumerism. What are you buying? Where does it come from and what is it made with? Who made it? If you can get those questions answered in a way that makes you feel good about what you are buying then that is far more than what we typically do as consumers. Also, cattle/beef consumption. I am not here to judge anyone, and I do consume some meat myself. But again, where does it come from? Do you feel good about where it comes from and how it was raised? Also, can you consume less of it? Can you eliminate it from one meal per week, or two meals? I don’t think we make big shifts by judging the way others live their lives, or demanding huge dramatic changes from ourselves or others as individuals. Starting small is A-OK, because if we all do a little bit that adds up to quite a lot.
Love to the Amazon and our planet.