Millennials have grown up with sustainability values tattooed on their foreheads in recognition of the impact climate change is having on our planet. Media coverage of mass deforestation in Borneo and other countries to make way for palm oil cultivation, as well as mass production of inorganic cotton has awakened a fury and an impatience in many of us to speed the pace of change.
The cosmetic industry has been criticised for its slowness to react and, it is fair to say that, the agility of indie brands gives them an advantage to respond to consumer demands for eco-friendly and sustainability values.
Sustainable sourcing of ingredients though is no longer enough. Since the infamous Blue Planet documentary opened our eyes to the irreparable damage that plastics are doing to our ocean life, consumers are less sympathetic to beauty brands harnessing luxury packaging that costs the earth in more ways than one.
Fortunately, MAYSAMA was born in an era where sustainability is not just a hot topic but a pre-requisite. From the starting blocks, even our logo was drafted on recycled paper!
Unapologetically, when it comes to cosmetic ingredients, we ask more questions of our technical team than the average client. Often, we have been faced with choosing between a high-performing active or one that is lower performance but more sustainably sourced. With efficacy and sustainability both high on our agenda, rather than compromise, we have often broadened our search until we found the best of both.
My formulating chemist once said to me in an email;
“Not all clients work with so much passion and dedication to each little detail in their products, so I truly believe this will be well rewarded.”
Green Rooibos is MAYSAMA’s unique API cosmetic ingredient, in which we have invested in a continued research collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Institute, South Africa. As this ingredient is central to our brand’s identity, sustainable farming of rooibos is critical to our brand’s ethos.
I am glad to say that our supplier of rooibos is a GMP certified company in South Africa, which means that all farmers are audited by their quality department. In order to comply with GMP requirements, our supplier ensures that all rooibos harvesting sites are farmed sustainably. What’s more, some of their farmers are in the process of obtaining specific certificates for sustainable farming.
There are several schemes that monitor sustainable farming. In 2018, UTZ merged with the Rain Forest Alliance to have a greater impact and be a better partner to the many stakeholders that they work with. Schemes, such as UTZ, reassure consumers that products have been sourced from farm to shop in a sustainable manner. To become certified, suppliers must demonstrate adherence to a strict Code of Conduct, which offers expert guidance on better farming methods, working conditions and care for nature. This in turn leads to better production, a better environment and a better life for everyone.
MAYSAMA are working very closely with our rooibos supplier to monitor progress in this area as it is hugely important to us. In conjunction with our suppliers, we plan to visit some of the farmers directly during our trip to the Cederberg Region later this year.
Other ingredient suppliers to MAYSAMA are already backers of organisations and alliances, which drive sustainability efforts. Our supplier of baobab oil, for example, supports the Eco Products Foundation. This is a non-profit project in the areas of South Africa where baobab fruit are harvested. In addition to buying fruit from rural harvesters, the Foundation supports education of pre-school children, growing of baobab trees, research projects and community engagement.
Our high-performance active, Centella Asiatica, comes from Madagascar. Our supplier sources these natural ingredients in accordance with fair trade and ensures equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use. As a UEBT (Union for Ethical Bio Trade) member since 2008, our supplier is fully committed to the goals and principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. This convention recognises that biological diversity is not just about plants, animals and micro-organisms and their ecosystems, but also the welfare of local communities.
As an eco-lux brand, it is important to MAYSAMA to have a high-end look, whilst maintaining an eco-conscious strategy.
As our product range grows, sustainable sourcing of ingredients will continue to be a key focus for MAYSAMA, together with responsible packaging. As an eco-lux brand, it is important to MAYSAMA to have a high-end look, whilst maintaining an eco-conscious strategy. The TAG airless range of glass serum bottles from Lumson, Italy, offered the perfect solution. Not only is glass infinitely recyclable but the product itself is protected within an airless pouch, protecting it from light degradation and oxidation. After use, the pump and glass can be separated for easy recycling. Extending our sustainability values to our secondary packaging, we use recycled cartons made from FSC certified board, printed with non-uv-cured inks. We have also chosen to eliminate unnecessary packaging by not using an external cellophane wrapper. Instead, we use just a couple of tamper seals, top and bottom of our carton, to minimise wastage, whilst ensuring product integrity.
Giving Back to the Rooibos Community in South Africa
Aside from the sustainability ethos behind our products, MAYSAMA’s searched long and hard to find a charity aligned with our sustainability values and connected with the rooibos industry, so that we could ‘give back’ to the community. Our chosen charity, the Environmental Monitoring Group, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. We have chosen this particular charity because of their community-based climate change adaption work, which involves partnerships with rooibos farmers from the Heiveld Co-operative.
It wasn’t until the 1900’s that rooibos began to be cultivated on a commercial basis. Cultivated rooibos is fast-growing and high yielding, but less resistance to pests and droughts than wild rooibos. The Heiveld Co-operative was set up in 2001 to help wild rooibos farmers, who after years of Apartheid and poor access to markets, were on the brink of poverty. In forming a co-operative, they have gained economic advantage through a shared processing facility, as well as achieving organic and fair-trade status, allowing them to charge a premium for their product. The EMG partnership with the farmers supports the mapping of populations of wild tea as well as research into the ecology of the plant in the wild and its response to climate change. Climate change may threaten the cultivated variety and threaten the viability of the industry, so the importance of the work done by the EMG and their research into sustainable farming of rooibos cannot be overstated.
As with anything, things evolve, and a mind-set of continuous improvement means that you don’t have to stand still. There is always more that can be done, and we keep an open eye and an inquisitive mind to ensure that we don’t miss opportunities when they come along to nurture our planet as well as our skin.