In our current climate where preserving the environment is increasingly important, it makes sense to learn whether the home fragrance products you use are eco-friendly.
As with most products, some incense is eco-friendly and others aren’t. In some instances, it’s difficult to determine, but you can easily support the companies that are transparent about their manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, there are companies that take advantage of this term, applying it to products that aren’t truly eco-friendly. This article details what it means for incense to be eco-friendly and how to determine where to locate such incense.
What Makes a Product Eco-Friendly?
Eco-friendly products are those that are not harmful to the environment. But beyond the product itself being unharmful, the materials that the products are made with and the process used to make them also help preserve and/or renew environmental conditions.
Earth-friendly products typically help conserve precious resources like energy and water while producing little to no waste. During the production process, there’s hardly any contribution to land or water pollution.
Products that are eco-friendly are also sustainable. Consideration for the environment and the people and other living organisms in those environments is the main idea behind sustainability.
Products that are made from recycled materials are an example of sustainability because they reduce waste. Materials that are reused leave less of a carbon footprint as well.
Another example of an eco-friendly material is one that’s biodegradable. Instead of piling up in landfills, these products are broken down by living organisms or bacteria. Plant-based ingredients like wood and plant matter are biodegradable.
This quality can also extend to packaging. Packaging made with biodegradable materials decay naturally without causing harm to the environment.
International efforts, like those of the United Nations, promote sustainable forest management.
This is the fifteenth of their seventeen goals, to:
“Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”United Nations Sustainable Development
With regards to incense, aromatic woods and resins comprise a large portion of ingredients used to make natural incense. So one way to determine whether an incense brand is eco-friendly is to inquire about their forest management and wood harvesting. Do they engage in reforestation? Are they responsibly harvesting wood or collecting driftwood?
Read more: Is Incense Made of Dung
Eco-Friendly Materials Incense Brand Examples
Shoyeido is “fully compliant with international regulations governing the export of agarwood.”
Nippon Kodo actively participates in reforestation of wood sourced from Southeast Asia. They also engage in conservation efforts to protect the environments they source their materials from. This company also uses eco-friendly raw materials – floral elements, woods, resins, and gums that all support a healthy ecosystem.
Eco-Friendly Production Process
Companies can incorporate environmentally friendly efforts into their product production process in a number of ways.
Some practices include efficient use of electricity and water. Use of materials that won’t produce or in this case, emit toxins into the environment. Also avoiding the use of machinery that releases toxic gasses and such into the air or water are eco-friendly practices.
Eco-Friendly Production Process Incense Brand Example
For a factory as large as Gonesh, these efforts can potentially have a significant positive impact to our ecosystem.
They use minimal packaging and recycled materials when possible. They also educate their staff about ways to minimize the effect that their production process and daily practices have on the environment.
Beware of Greenwashing
Because “eco-friendly,” “sustainability,” “green” and similar words are increasingly popular (and profitable) marketing terms, greenwashing has also been dominating marketing tactics used to mislead customers.
As this Forbes article points out customers are willing to pay more for products that are marketed as being more conscious, whether it is healthier, socially responsible, or safer to use. But not all companies implement industry-specific interventions. Some use the language without having a clear plan in place.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), determining whether or not a product is “green” or eco-friendly is not a straightforward process.
They list eight factors that come into play:
- Air pollution
- Climate change
- Ecosystem damages
- Natural resource use
- Stratospheric ozone depletion
- Toxic exposures
- Water disposal
- Water pollution
Contribution to air quality is one of these factors. In a study conducted by the EPA, incense was found to contribute to poor indoor air quality. But it’s not clear which incense brands were tested.
Nippon Kodo shared results from a safety standard chemical substances review. So if possible, it would help to find information like this from the company that makes the incense brands you use the most.
Green Built Alliance has a list of really helpful questions to ask when trying to determine if a company truly implements eco-friendly practices.
Several questions particularly relevant to incense are:
- Is there a written, working environmental policy in place? If so, is it easily accessible?
- What are the raw materials used to create the product and where did they come from?
- Did the materials come from renewable resources?
- Does the product release VOCs? At what rate?
- How is the product packaged and transported?
- Is the product biodegradable?
- Can it be used for something else?
I invite you to visit their website for the more detailed list of questions.
Investopedia offers additional insight. Their list of questions can help you distinguish an eco-friendly product from one that might be greenwashed.
Straightforward language is a primary factor. If a company claims that your purchase was made using recycled materials, for instance, it should be clear exactly what materials were reused. The product itself? The packaging?
Another distinguishing factor is the way that environmental benefits are explained. If there’s a lot of hype or ambiguous language, then you might want to pause and do more research before making that purchase.
Brand Example of True Green Marketing: BRAHMAS
Organic recycled flowers are one of the primary ingredients used to make these incense sticks. In India, flowers are dumped into the river after religious ceremonies. BRAHMAS reduces river pollution by recycling these flowers to be used as incense ingredients.
They remove insecticides and other toxins from the flowers, and then incorporate them into their incense paste. This is just one of the ways that this company accurately markets a truly “green” product.
Which Brands Produce Eco-Friendly Incense?
When searching for eco-friendly incense, you may not find one company that meets all of your standards. But there are a few companies that seem to come close. Another point is that this is a very short list of companies that I’ve come in contact with. There might be many more brands out there.
These four brands have been previously mentioned in the article. The first three have both materials and manufacturing processes that are eco-friendly. Gonesh only has eco-friendly manufacturing processes.
- Nippon Kodo
An additional brand is the Bengaluru-based Satya incense company. It produces certified green products. (You can read more about the two Satyas here.)
Some key points:
- They’ve received awards for efficient use of electricity.
- They’ve been awarded a green product certificate which permits them to label their products as green according to their manufacturing procedures. An earth symbol is on all of their packaging.
- Their incense was also tested for toxic materials and were found to be nil.
- All of these certificates are easily found towards the bottom of their home page.
It’s not always easy to determine whether the incense you use is eco-friendly, but there are clues that you can look out for and questions you can ask about the brand.
- What ingredients are used to make this incense?
- How is this incense manufactured?
- Am I okay with how and with what it’s made?
- Will this incense cause indoor pollution?