With wellness traditionally a very individual pursuit, it has become increasingly apparent that there is a contradiction in creating products that promote self-care that simultaneously cause so much destruction. As demand for herbs such as guggulu, jatamansi and sandalwood increases, the adaptogen industry has failed to scale up in a sustainable manner, which has an effect not only on the plants in question but also on the whole eco-system, affecting plants and animals alike.
And it’s not just plant-based adaptogens that are driving cause for concern. Mushrooms like chaga – linked with reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and supporting liver health – are being collected with blatant disregard for local ecology. As Paul Stamets, a leading mycologist and invention ambassador of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, explains, when foragers extract these mushrooms from the birch trees on which they grow, they typically hack at the tree with a machete or a hatchet, which can ultimately cause the tree to die.
With sustainable living and the destruction of natural habitats such a pertinent topic for consumers around the world, brands using adaptogens and promoting their benefits need to take the lead not only in demonstrating that they are long-term thinkers, but also educating consumers about these more complex issues. An example is US brand Moon Juice. Although founder Amanda Chantal Bacon has spoken about reformulating its popular Sex Dust because one of the ingredients, cistanche, was being over-harvested, the brand has missed an opportunity to educate and inform. It only vaguely alludes to its sustainable credentials on its website with nothing more than a banner image describing its products as ‘Potent and Pure, Native-Grown and Sustainably Farmed’.
For brands to really make a difference in this area, they must ensure that their practices or methods of sourcing are sustainable and planet-positive. But they should also embrace the opportunity to drive a new rhetoric focused on educating consumers about the need for a whole-system approach to wellness.
For more on why brands need to think more holistically about wellness, LS:N Global subscribers can explore our recent macrotrend Certified Wellness.