“Perfume is a story in odour, sometimes a poetry in memory,” said Jean Claude Ellena. Our connection with fragrance is almost ritualistic, it is a bond that deeply manifests itself into our day-to-day life, and there is no denying the fact that perfume is a whiff of luxury, it is an accessory that amplifies our confidence and defines the style. But this time instead of discussing the aesthetics of scent, we are going to present a different notion, a factor that is heard by all but understood by less — ‘‘sustainability in perfume’’.
There isn’t a day goes by when we do not read or hear about sustainability. But what does sustainability has to do with fragrance and above all do we care? Contemplating the effects personal impact on the planet, human rights and the future of the air that we breathe, then yes, sustainable perfume is the next crucial switch that you need to make on your dressing table. “I believe that sustainability is the luxury of life because the environment stands above everything,” says Shadi Samra, General Manager, Real Oud Factory Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations, Fragrance Du Bois, ME & Africa. The brand is exclusively available at Scentido Niche Perfumery. But the story goes beyond packing organic petals in a bottle, a truly sustainable perfume brand should uphold genuine respect for its ecological and social impacts.
Perfume-making is one of the largest global luxe industries, and it is creating a significant effects on both animals and plants, valued for their rare scents. Many perfume formulations are sneakily hidden behind one word on the labels, usually ‘Parfum’ or ‘Aroma’, which make it considerably difficult for consumers to know if the product is made using ethically extracted components. As the years went on, the surplus amount of perfumes sold commercially were made from cheap synthetic compounds, while the net worth of the industry started to grow by leaps and bounds. However, the shift towards a green fragrance concept is revolutionary. The usage of organic and natural ingredients emerged as a trend and the perks of ‘all-natural’ started to gain attention from manufacturers to consumers, given the fact that they are less likely to trigger allergies, asthma or headaches.
But having said that, the biggest concern is ‘all-natural’ does not necessarily mean environment-friendly, since the use of innate ingredients can be problematic. Certain raw materials have been so overexploited by perfume makers and lovers that they are at the verge of extinction or already are enlisted as endangered species, and the usage of animal-derived materials raises serious moral concerns. The fragrance industry is a huge buyer of precious oils evoked from plants and though there are several plants that are fostered exclusively to meet consumer demands, there are some wild exceptions that are targeted by the industry. Most of which are extremely valued because of their rarity, difficulty in harvesting and a distinct scent profile.
So, now the question arises how natural become sustainable? From the point of view of an eco-conscious consumer, one way to guarantee a sustainable and cruelty-free perfume is to check how transparent the brand actually is. Although, the trend is quite new, various brands have begun to pave its way to a more responsible and thoughtful approach. You do not need to stop using perfumes in order to be an environmental-conscious consumer. Rather, be cautious when buying the next bottle and look for the brands that value nature and whose ideology is to use ethically sourced raw goods.
For instance, Bvlgari has started to take an initiative in their product creation process dedicated to eco-design. With an exclusive team and a sole objective of minimising the environmental impact the brand focuses on packaging, raw materials and supply chain intervention, resulting in Bvlgari’s fragrance Man Wood Essence, which has been regarded as a valiant move in the industry. “It became important to us to contribute, to support the communities that enable us to create our masterpiece fragrances, and that we establish a sustainable approach to preserve and support the local economy. Like our jewels, our fragrances are crafted from nature’s finest gems and it is our passion to research, source, and wherever possible, support the production of these extraordinary ingredients”, says Jean-Christophe Babin, Bvlgari CEO.
Another example would be Timothy Han/Edition unisex scent ‘On The Road’, designed for the wearer on the journey. It exhibits the top notes of galbanum, lemon, bergamot with the heart of Amyris, cedarwood and patchouli. The composition is 100 per cent natural and made from liable sourced components. With organic goods and all-natural tag, the conventional scent quality of the brand is still intact, disregard of what many believe. “Sustainability means different things to many different people. So whether or not that affects the scent of the product, to an extent become subjective. If you believe that sustainability can only comprise 100 per cent natural ingredients then yes it affects it. But the reality is that often it is the natural ingredients that are having a bigger detrimental impact on the planet”, says Timothy Han, founder of Timothy Han/Edition.
The fragrance market is developing innovative and groundbreaking expansions for low-waste and eco-friendly solutions.“We are one of the first brands that stopped using plastic in the outer box. So we are reducing the plastic waste which is very harmful to the environment and we are supporting any initiative in the far east that helps the environment”, says Shadi.
However, in the near future, there will be wider adoption of significant changes that could delimit how luxury is expressed in perfumery. For now, the green label still needs to take a wider approach not only in health, but beauty category too, because the legacy of waste on landfills and atmosphere is far from pretty.