Sustainable solutions: How the first step to socio-environmental harmony can begin with a single tree

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainable solutions: How the first step to socio-environmental harmony can begin with a single tree
‘Start small and you’ll support business sustainability’: That’s the advice for cosmetics companies seeking to offset the negative social and environmental impacts of their products and protect raw material supplies.

Agroforestry is only one of PUR Projet’s, which works with firms to regenerate the ecosystem they depend upon, by establishing projects that companies can adopt to can create positive changes in the long-term.

“’Insetting’ is a vision that allows companies to re-balance their relationship with the environment,”​ said Daniel Jongejan of PUR Projet’s project development team.

With insetting, companies can compensate for its social and environmental impact within its own supply chain.

This involves partnering with local communities that are impacted by the company’s influence to develop projects that reduce carbon emissions. This does not just benefit the local environment and its people, but reinforces the stability and sustainability of the supply chain.

Starting simple

While insetting may seem like a massive task, Jongejan said that cosmetic companies can start by simply planting trees in the small farms that produce its raw materials.

“The redemption is simple, cost-effective and comes from nature,” ​said Jongejan. “Planting trees is a great way to reconcile with the environment as the benefits of trees on the environment are numerous.”

A popular raw material that desperately needs attention from the industry is cocoa, he said. Used widely in cosmetic products because of its antioxidant properties, the world’s cocoa production is expected to be reduced by half by 2050 due to rising temperatures caused by climate change.

As they depending on cocoa for their sustenance, farmers will migrate to higher areas, which are mostly covered by forests.

Jongejan estimated that approximately five million farmers are producing today's volumes of cocoa. If these people were to migrate further into forested areas, it would “cause a new and unprecedented scale of deforestation.”

Trees of life

To prevent this, companies can turn to agroforestry, which in this case, simply means planting tress inside cocoa farms.

Insetting by planting trees has a multitude of benefits on the environment. Jongejan elaborated that besides providing oxygen, litterfall from trees is converted into a powerhouse for micro-organisms, which then generates soil nutrients.

Planting tress also helps local farmers develop their enterprises. According to Jongejan, agroforestry allows farm enterprises to develop by selling products, such as fruits, timber and nuts, from the agroforestry project.

Some tree species even add atmospheric nitrogen to the soil so farmers do not need to spend so much money on fertilisers.

Planting more trees can even help one of the main problems facing today’s agricultural models: the rapidly decreasing population of bees, said Jongejan. More tress mean a boost in biodiversity, as it attracts insects, like bees, birds and even mammals.

“All of this is direct value for the people and planet, and contributes to the business continuity of the company. It is a win-win-win solution.”

To learn more about insetting and agroforestry, join Daniel Jongejan at the Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​, hosted in Hong Kong from November 12 to 13.

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