Are Essential Oils All That Green For The Environment?
Normally I don't talk about green and clean and all that goes with this because we are always trying to do our best and live with as little impact as possible to our environment.
I have been pondering over this and looking for research on this topic for quite some time. I haven't seen many talk about or even discuss the carbon footprint of essential oils and one would have thought so with the natural movement. Some are really trying their best but some are just jumping on the green and clean marketing bandwagon to try and get a marketing angle or sell more of their wares.
So what does it take to produce the essential plant oils we use? Lets' have a look at what I have found.
From some studies I have found the following:
Lavender Bud and Stem - 41.6l/ha
16513kg/ha crop plant including stems and flowers
399kg of crop / 1 litre
399gr per mil of eo
So that is of plant matter per mil of eo doesn't sound much on the small scale of things.
Chamomile - 6.6l/ha
26400kg/ha crop plant matter yeild
6.6litres/ha essential oil yeild
4000kg plant matter / litre of eo
400gr / gram eo
Rosemary - 11.5litres/ha
Thyme - 11.8litres/ha
Yarrow - 5l/ha
So what does this all tell us? It takes quite a lot of plant matter to produce 1 litre of essential oil.
I feel we need to think about the following with our essential oils:
Land preparation - diesel to run equipment
Land and crop maintenance - diesel to run equipment
Tilling weeds - mechanical driven diesel powered equipment
Irrigation - energy source of some kind to power pumps unless gravity fed
Herbicides used - power source required to spray the crop if required
Pesticides - power source required to spray the crop if required
Harvesting of the crop - mechanical energy source, low cost labor maybe available in some countries
Cartage of the crop to the distillery - energy source to power vehicles
Energy needed to run the distillery - wood, coal, gas or electric driven
Energy required to bottle the distilled product - electric driven in most cases pumped or gravity fed into vats or drums or hand distilled.
If electricity was used as a power source how was it made now a lot of people don't think about where the power comes from when they turn on a switch. It just happens like magic.
What is driving your local power plant is it burning coal, hydro electricity, wind generated, solar powered. With a coal powered power plant think on the following and ponder for a while, where did the coal come from, was it local, how much energy was expended getting the coal out of the ground and how much was expended on washing the coal (yes they wash and crush coal), more energy.
Now with this whole energy thing and lowering the carbon foot print so to speak, well it's huge, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on a couple of issues that I have had time to write about.
So next time when you grab for that bar of essential oil soap, treasure it.
When you switch on a light bulb think of where did the power come from? How far has it travelled to get to my light bulb, what made the power. Do I need all those lights on, switch some off. It maybe just one little crumb less of coal that is burnt and choofing off into the atmosphere.
Till next time Cheers.
Stats Ref: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/crops/industrial/research/reports/RDREP02.pdf
Reprinted from Platypus Dreams Blog with permission