Student’s Corner

Environmental Impacts of Essential Oils

How do essential oils affect the environment? Essential oils are potent extracts of herbs, spices, fruits, and other plants. These oils are the basis of aromatherapy, the therapeutic application of essential oils for physical and psychological well-being. Essential oils are also used in skincare, cosmetics, and do-it-yourself projects like the ones we’ve shared on this blog. 247.08 kilotons of essential oils were used in 2020 and the demand for them is expected to grow exponentially. 

With the increased demand for these essential oils, it’s important to stop and think about how much plant material it takes to produce them. Aromatic plants contain about 0.005 to 10 percent essential oil, with the average amount being 1 to 2 percent. For example, it takes about 40 to 60 rosebuds to produce a single drop of rose oil. This means it takes 18,000 to 30,000 roses to fill a single 1 oz bottle!

This does not mean we have to stop using essential oils altogether. What can you do to help? 

  • Shop wisely

Do some research before purchasing your oils. Learn more about the brand you decide to purchase from and whether they support environmental initiatives. 

  • Be picky

Some essential oils are derived from unsustainable sources so be sure to pick oils that will not only benefit you but also the earth. Some examples of less sustainable oils include Indian sandalwood, agarwood, and rosewood. Frankincense and myrrh are highly demanded oils but are collected from areas of the world that tend to suffer from severe drought conditions. 

  • Use sparingly

Now that we know that essential oils require many resources, we can be more cautious about how much we use. Remember that in aromatherapy, more is not always better. A little goes a long way, especially since the oils are highly concentrated. Instead of using 20 drops of peppermint in a warm foot bath, try using 5 to 8 drops. One drop of lavender on a mosquito bite will do the job so there is no need to pour out 4 drops. This will also make your oils last longer and save you a bit of money.

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