At Merkaela we take the sourcing of our materials and ingredients very seriously. The quality of ingredients we use in Merkaela products is paramount to providing customers with nourishing products. Even more importantly, ensuring that Merkaela products leave a minimal impact on the environment and its people is the highest priority for us. Merkaela values working with suppliers that recognize the impact of overproduction and overextraction of natural resources on the environment, and apply fair labor practices for its workforce. We’ve done our research to ensure that our ingredients are not only high caliber, but also environmentally and socially responsible. For instance, we source many of our oils from suppliers and distributors that rank high on environmental scorecards and use sound labor practices. For more information on environmental and labor practices of Merkaela’s suppliers, read more below.
Good Palm Oil Practices
Merkaela purchases palm oil in large quantities, as it serves as a base to many of our soaps. We take the sourcing of this essential ingredient very seriously. Palm oil is a superior replacement of the beef tallow that soapmakers used in bygone days. Organic palm oil is full of botanical goodies that nourish your skin. Merkaela’s organic palm oil supplier – Agropalma Brazil – scored at the very top of Greenpeace’s Palm Oil Producers’ scorecard. We were pleased to have our decision to source palm oil from Agropalma Brazil validated by Greenpeace’s findings. Greenpeace ranked palm oil producers based on three main criteria: commitment to stopping deforestation, no development on peatland, and percentage of RSPO certified palm oil production. Agropalma Brazil met all three criteria. To read the full Greenpeace scorecard, visit: Greenpeace. (https://issuu.com/greenpeaceinternational/docs/palmoilscorecard/1?e=2537715/1440310) We selected Agropalma Brazil as a provider because of their sound production practices and proximity to the US, minimizing how it impacts other ingredients in our end products Read an article about our palm oil distributors exceptional sustainability. http://cdn.vermontsoap.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/092513-RSPO-Certification.pdf
Our Tea Tree Oil Practices
Tea Tree oil is highly effective in controlling skin fugus and acne. We use a lot of Tea Tree oil at Merkaela, and wanted to be sure we were getting a pure product made by honest and reputable people. Merkaela procures its tea tree oil from ATTIA (TeaTree.org), a company that grows and distills tea tree oil inthe Northern Rivers Tea Tree Plantation of Australia. http://www.teatree.org.au/teatree_about.php
Good Coconut Oil & Cocoa Butter Practices
Merkaela sources its Philippine coconut oil and South American cocoa butter through CIRANDA, a member of the Sustainable Food Trade Association. No slave labor or child labor is used and members have to do annual reporting on a wide variety of metrics. Learn more here.
Shea Nut Butter
We source our shea butter from the area surrounding the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. Your purchase of certified organic shea butter from Merkaela helps to preserve the last remaining pygmy hippos in Ghana, West Africa. In exchange for paying producers a premium for their shea butter, tribal chiefs have agreed to allow their lands to be certified as organic; thus preserving one of the last fragile remaining populations of hippos in the region. Here is more information about the Shea butter. We can potentially extract some info from there. Booom. http://www.newhope.com/supply-news-amp-analysis/vermont-soap-sources-fair-trade-shea-butter-and-protects-hippo-population
Please note that Merkaela mostly purchases its materials from a reputable distributor, Ciranda, rather than directly from suppliers we’ve listed. Ciranda takes away a lot of the hard work in sourcing organic and fair trade producers, by providing its own stamp of approval on its products. All of Ciranda’s products have fair trade certification (as licensed and audited by Fair Trade certification programs). Many of Ciranda’s products have organic certification as well. To read more about Ciranda products, please vist: www.ciranda.com/about-ciranda.
Merkaela uses minimal amounts of plastic for its packaging. This is why our bottles are glass and most of our caps are metal.
Items like plastic packaging, bags and bottles are thrown away every day, and end up in trash sites as well as in forests, creeks, rivers, seas, and oceans around the world. While some of these items are recycled, the growth of plastic consumption and its improper disposal currently outpace efforts to recycle and produce post-consumer plastic materials. Plastic is not biodegradable, but photodegradable. And in reality, most plastic does not ever disappear, but becomes long-lasting "plastic dust". When items like plastic bags break down, they readily soak up (and release) toxins that then contaminate soil and water, as well as harming animals that ingest plastic fragments. In addition to not breaking down fast, plastic materials also break down dangerously.
A lot of plastic already contains toxins, such as phthalates, BPA and flame retardants. And as plastic breaks down, it can absorb many dangerous toxins more easily, such as damaging pesticides like DDT, PCB and PAH. The impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and ecosystems creates chaos for the environment. When items like plastic bags break down, they readily soak up (and release) toxins that then contaminate soil and water, and harm animals that ingest plastic fragments. Every square mile of ocean has 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. That is why over a million sea birds, whales, seals, dolphins, sea turtles, and so on die from plastic debris that ends up in our oceans and seas, including 100,000 sharks. Plastic ends up inside these animals (especially birds), which can lead to their deaths. Helping to reduce the use of plastic can help preserve the earth as we know it.
Merkaela sources its aloe vera from Terry Laboratories LLC. Its aloe vera raw materials have been purified by decolorization to remove known carcinogens to the whole leaf extract variety. In addition, other materials are derived from the aloe vera inner leaf and do not contain the identified carcinogenic chemicals. All of Terry Laboratories’ products (inner leaf and whole leaf) are decolorized during processing and therefore are not subject to the Proposition 65 listing. Terry Laboratories has asked that Proposition 65 not cover its products, which have been decolorized. To read more, visit: http://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/proposition-65/crnr/comments/062015comment21.pdf