1 DESIGN DECISIONS
The starting point for any new natural fragrance is the selection of essential oils, plant absolutes, concretes or natural isolates. While our niche focus is on Australian native botanicals, we work with ingredients from all around the world.
In making a decision about which ingredients to use, a key design principle that we adhere to is not to incorporate any fragrant extracts from plants listed as “critically endangered” or “endangered” on the IUCN’s “Red List”
“Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.”
The Coalition of Sustainable Perfumery has published an abridged version of the Red List which identifies the fragrant plant species used in the perfume industry. This list is assessed and updated frequently, according to new data on the species listed and other fragrant botanicals.
On the “critically endangered” list:
- Agarwood (Aquilaria app.) or “oud” as it’s more commonly referred to
- Sandalwood, New Caledonia (Santalum austro-caledonicum)
On the “endangered” list:
- Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
- Guaiacwood (Bulnesia sarmientoi)
- Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)
- Vanilla (Vanilla plantifolia)
And on the “vulnerable” list:
- Sandalwood East India (Santalum album)
- Sandalwood Hawaiian (Santalum paniculatum)
- Sandalwood Mysore (Santalum album)
- Opoponax (Commiphora guidotti)
- Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)
- Gurjun balsam (Dipterocarpus turbinatus)
This list contains some of the most highly prized fragrant ingredients in today’s perfumery industry - oud, sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood, guaiacwood and vanilla. And not far behind, on the “near threatened” list is frankincense.
All of which lead us to a place where we needed to confront head on the decisions we made about which ingredients to include. And which alternatives to consider as substitutes. So we scoured the global suppliers for those who provided transparency on their essential oil countries of origin, GCMS reports on their quality and, most importantly, those who can confirm they hold CITES permits for ingredients on the IUCN’s Red List.
No permit, no trade. That’s the call we’ve made.
We recognise that the underlying reasons for why a plant species is classified as critically endangered or endangered in a particular country by the IUCN can sometimes involve complex questions involving population density, numbers of plants, assessments of farming practices and excessive wild harvesting with no adequate replanting program to increase plant numbers.
The Airmid Institute plays an important educational role in working with local communities and suppliers whose livelihoods may be significantly affected by the unsustainable harvesting of endangered or critically endangered species, but who are committed to obtaining CITES permits, thereby raising the bar for what excellence looks like.
We are proud to be a member of both the COSP and Airmid Institute and support the work both organisations are doing to increase awareness around sustainability issues in the perfume industry.
2 PACKAGING DECISIONS
In being more conscious about the materials we use in our product design process, by excluding all critically endangered or endangered plant species (unless a supplier has a CITES permit for the fragrant extract), we then turned our attention to our packaging.
We of course wanted to eliminate plastic, and so have done that, apart from in the spray nozzle of our eau de parfum bottles.
All our vessels are glass. All our packaging boxes and paper we use are FSC certified and biodegradable.
We wanted to take this further though, because single use packaging is still a significant cause of waste.
3 RECYLCE & REFILL PROGRAM
We offer a recycle & refill program where customers can send to us their original candle, reed diffuser, roll-on eau de parfum bottle and we will refill it for them for reuse and then send it back to them.
We think this more closed cycle of consumption and reuse will hopefully lead to more conscious purchasing decisions and a lighter footprint.
4 SLOW FRAGRANCE
The final element of our approach has been to examine how often we make something. Our goal is to share interesting stories about fragrant Australian native botanicals. We are guided by the seasons, unique locations, and the practice of making our products by hand.
We are an artisanal producer. We make small batches. Our eau de parfums are limited edition fragrances (only 250 bottles have been produced). Each is numbered individually.
By always making our finest fragrance product in a limited edition, we hope to elevate the concept of slow fragrance. There won’t be another bottle. Once they’re sold, they’re gone. It's something to savour and take quiet pleasure in: appreciating the beauty of exceptional natural ingredients drawing a link between conscious design, conscious consumption, and building a deeper connection to nature at the same time.