(Coco)nuts for Sustainability

In 2014, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation named coconut palm sugar the “world’s most sustainable sweetener”. Why? And what has that got to do with skincare?  

Let’s break it down

Before we begin, it’s important to distinguish the difference between coconut palm sugar and palm oil, that latter of which has garnered an enormous amount of negative attention for its devastating impact on the environment, and rightly so. Completely separate from palm oil, coconut sugar (also known as coconut palm sugar and palm sugar) is one of the most sustainably grown and harvested organic products available. There are a number of factors at play.

Image credit: Hans Eiskonen

Image credit: Hans Eiskonen

The tree

The Cocos Nucifera (coconut) tree requires minimal amounts of water and nutrients to produce the raw materials required for coconut sugar production, especially when compared to cane sugar. Coconut trees yield 50-75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar, while using only 20% of the soil nutrients and water.

The method

Unlike traditional farming methods, coconut trees are not harvested for their sap; instead they are tapped, in a similar way to maple trees, which allows their nectar to be collected without harming the tree. The tree remains intact and healthy, and can continue to produce coconuts.

The product

Once the sap is collected it’s simply boiled, dehydrated and granulated; it’s not chemically altered and no artificial ingredients are added to it. Coconut sugar retains trace amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper, in addition to phytonutrients and antioxidants.

The benefits

Coconut trees grow in diverse ecosystems and have positive environmental impacts, including carbon sequestration. On a human level, farmers are able to produce coconuts and coconut sugar simultaneously, which gives them two income streams from one crop. This delivers substantial financial benefits and helps to support local families and communities in third world countries.

What has this got to do with skincare?
Find out how this sustainable sweetener can benefit your skin.