(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.