A crucial but unspoken part about running a Botanical company is displaying an appreciation for and sensitivity towards conservation. India contains literally thousands of medicinal herbs which are great for skin and hair. However, a few of these herbs are much more famous among consumers and therefore make a product easier to market or sell.
It will come as no surprise that the more famous a herb gets, the more vulnerable the plant becomes to over exploitation or stripping.
A case in point is Sandal and Red Sanders. Both these trees are very vulnerable to smuggling and over exploitation. Over exploitation means that there is simply too much careless logging happening of the trees without enough time and space being given to conserve the existing population. And when we continue to demand these trees, we permit unlicensed cutting, rampant smuggling and fuel a parallel economy where human rights are strongly affected.
This is why at Krya, despite easy availability of unlicensed Red Sandal, we refuse to use it in our products. We do not want our money and your money to support illegal trade and smuggling of this vulnerable plant.
We do use small amounts of Sandal in our products. This is purchased from a government authorised license holder who is permitted to log restricted amounts of Sandal. This means that we get Sandal only in small quantities and the costs that we get it at are extremely high. This also means that we get the genuine Sandal. Which has been logged responsibly under checks and balances. And given the Sandal is a rare and expensive herb, we learn as a company to use it judiciously, only in the appropriate formulations where Sandal is strongly required – therefore the system keeps everyone in check.
We have strongly resisted using imported materials in Krya, despite their obvious value for skin and hair. There was a time when Dead Sea minerals were a huge “in” resource to be used in skin and hair care formulations. It stands to reason that the Dead Sea is a finite resource. If every single person in the world wanted to treat their hair and skin with the minerals from there, we would not have a Dead Sea left.
Similar is the case with soil based products. Green French clay and Moroccan Rhassoul clay are both extremely nutrient rich soils that are beneficial for skin and hair and can be used for different complaints. However, this is soil that is endemic to a particular region and has been created by a unique set of factors that is specific to that region. For example, French green clay was first identified in rock quarries in southern France. Their unique green colour comes from iron oxides that occur naturally and decomposed kelp seaweed and algal plant matter giving the clay its natural tint. The process of forming this clay is extremely old – and the clay samples we get today could be tens of thousands of years old. IF we simply take this clay away, from across the world, we are depleting the local environment of this natural soil WITHOUT doing anything to add it back to the soil.
The same maxim holds for Moroccan Rhassoul clay too.
There are 4 principles that should be held onto when using natural resources:
- They should be harvested carefully with a view of ensuring that the plant / animal / mineral being harvested is not stripped and decimated from its natural surroundings. The harvesting technique should ensure rotation so that we give enough time for this resource to re-generate so we are not depleting it by our actions.
- They should be used carefully and not frivolously. Every ingredient must be used in the right quantity, not wasted and should go towards treating the ailment the ingredient helps cure.
- We should use easily renewable plat resources first – this list includes fruits and flowers which are meant for harvesting. This list also includes plants that are easy to cultivate, have a short life cycle and do not depend upon very strong environmental forces to form (erg: volcanic soil, dead sea minerals, Shilajit, etc)
- The use of ingredients must be LOCAL and SEASONAL. This is a maxim given in all the Ayurvedic texts which state that herbs which are LOCAL to you tend to work best for you. So even if “French green clay” or “Moroccan Argan oil” sounds great, what will probably work best for us in India are Coconut or Sesame Oil and any one of our medicinal herbs.
If we harvest and use herbs and resources as per the above 4 principles, we will not over exploit or drain our resources in one area.
The next time you shop for a skin / hair care product and it is advertised as containing imported ingredients like Dead Sea Minerals, Moroccans Argan Oil or rare Amazonian herbs, do consider buying something local instead. And when you are buying something local, and it advertised as containing extremely rare and expensive and hard to procure ingredients like Red Sandal, Shilajit or Saffron, check for its authenticity and legality as well.
Remember, we don’t just buy. We vote and send out a statement about the ethical, business and moral practices we would like to see around us. .