What are the benefits of using organic beauty and wellbeing products?
When you opt for certified organic products, you’re casting a vote for companies that can make a world of difference for people, planet and wildlife too.
Read on to find out how certified organic products:
- Minimise harm to the environment
- Benefit wildlife
- Avoid controversial chemicals
- Champion cruelty-free beauty and wellbeing
The ingredients in certified organic health and beauty products are grown in a way that’s designed to respect nature, and enhance the health of our planet.
Organic farming is all about ‘closing the loop’ - making use of what’s to hand, limiting the amount of imported resources and working with nature. The result? Healthy and fertile soils, reduced risk of pollution from chemicals, and on average, less energy use too.
Key reasons why COSMOS-certified organic products are better for the planet:
Use of palm oil: Palm oil is permitted in organic health and beauty products, but certain specified ingredients must be from organic origin or certified sustainable plantations.
Many organic manufacturers will choose not to use palm oil in their products, however COSMOS organic standards do support the responsible production of palm oil on existing agricultural land where it is appropriate to do so.
Why is palm oil allowed in COSMOS standards?
Rightfully, there’s growing global concern about deforestation, and an urgent need to protect the planet from irresponsible farming practices - half of oil palm development between 1972 and 2015 took place on recently deforested lands.
However, the responsible production of palm oil can play an important role in sustainable livelihoods for tropical countries, and palm oil is a hugely versatile and productive crop. COSMOS believe that the organic and natural cosmetics industry should take responsibility for the sourcing of palm oil and palm kernel oil, to ensure as best we can that the environment is not being harmed.
As such, certain specified ingredients listed in the standard, according to availability, must be from organic origin or certified sustainable by RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).
What’s the difference between RSPO and organic?
At the moment, there are only a small number of companies producing organic palm oil worldwide - many of these growers are pioneers in sustainable production, that must meet strict organic standards which control the use of harmful inputs and destructive deforestation. These producers also tend to work closely with smallholders and communities, generating positive social, environmental and economic impacts. COSMOS would prefer all ingredients from palm and palm derivatives from organic sources but at present, this is not possible due to availability.
As such, COSMOS standards currently also permit palm products from RSPO certified sources. These standards ensure certified palm oil producers:
- Protect, conserve and enhance ecosystems and the environment
- Behave legally, ethically and transparently
- Respect human rights and the rights of local communities and smallholders
Packaging: is a big part of organic health and beauty standards. Businesses must have a plan to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging, throughout a product’s life cycle. COSMOS standards require minimal packaging with maximum recycled and recyclable content and has a list of accepted and banned materials to help guide companies' decisions.
Manufacturing: Organic standards also consider the waste produced at the manufacturing stage. Businesses must have an environmental management plan in place, to ensure as much waste as possible is reduced, reused or recycled, and non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products must be used at the manufacturing site too.
No artificial fertilisers are used in organic agriculture: These energy-intensive chemicals are derived from fossil fuels, and their manufacture contributes to global warming. Instead organic farmers build fertility in their soils naturally, using manure from local livestock, and natural fertilisers, like compost and woodchip.
Healthier soils: Soil is a really important tool in the fight against climate change – there’s currently 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon stored in soil around the world! Taking good care of soil is at the heart of organic farming. By nourishing them and reducing soil erosion, organic soils can become up to 25% more effective at storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Protection for vulnerable plants: Organic standards take care to protect any endangered plant species – and ingredients sourced for organic products must respect the requirements of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Green Chemistry: COSMOS organic standards are based on the principle of green chemistry, throughout the manufacture and life cycle of a product. In short, green chemistry means working to avoid and eliminate the use of hazardous, toxic and non-bio-degradable substances, especially where sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives exist.
Did you know that, on average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms? In the face of widespread decline in biodiversity, the role these nature-friendly farms can play in restoring wildlife populations is vital.
The reason why organic farms are such havens for wildlife include:
- Fewer pesticides: Pesticides are cited as one of the major drivers of insect decline, particularly pollinators, like bees. Pesticide use in organic farming only happens as a last resort, and under very restricted circumstances. Instead, farmers must create a balanced ecosystem on their farms, where pests are controlled through natural means.
- Nature-friendly habitats: For every 10% increase in bee-friendly habitats - like that found on organic farms - bee numbers and diversity increases by over a third! Organic farming is a form of agroecology – which means working with nature to farm your crops. As a result, organic farms are much more likely to have nature-friendly habitats on their land, like hedges and trees (known as agroforestry), beetle banks in field margins, and wild areas for nature to thrive.
- Cleaner water for wildlife: As well as being energy-intensive to produce, the nitrogen fertilisers used in conventional farming can create ‘dead zones’ when they run off fields and into waterways, reducing the amount of oxygen in rivers and seas. This nitrogen pollution can kill fish and other aquatic life. Organic standards ban the use of these manufactured fertilisers, significantly lowering the risk of pollution.
Organic standards follow the 'precautionary principle'. This means that when there is scientific evidence that an ingredient, technology or process might pose a health or environmental risk, they will not be allowed, especially as many natural and eco-friendly alternatives to these products often already exist.
For this reason, a number of controversial chemicals often be found in health and beauty products, like parabens and phthalates, and synthetic colourings, dyes or fragrances are not permitted in certified organic products.
Testing beauty and wellbeing ingredients or finished products on animals is not permitted under the COSMOS organic or natural standards.
The only animal products permitted in COSMOS organic products are ones that are naturally produced by them, such as milk, honey and beeswax - no ingredients extracted from living or dead animals are allowed.
Keen to take action now you know the benefits of organic?
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