Thinking ethically. Working sustainably.
Although hard to achieve, being 100% carbon neutral is an ideal we aim for in every decision that we make.
The unseen details add up. This website, for instance, is hosted in a carbon-neutral way by a company that uses wind and solar energy to power and cool its servers.
Sourcing in Africa:
We source our ingredients from the African continent and only import from overseas if there is no availability in Africa, or if they do not meet our organic and sustainability criteria.
Did you know…empty packaging from cosmetic products constitutes a third of the landfill in developed countries. We’ve taken steps to avoid adding to that shocking statistic. Terres d’Afrique opted for aluminium packaging, which is lighter than glass, unbreakable and safer than plastic. To reduce plastic use (used in pumps and nozzles) most of our products are in tubs. Aluminium tubes are not recyclable so we don’t use them. For your assurance and safety, our aluminum cans and tubs have a polymer coating so there is no contact between product and pack.
Recycling aluminium is a very efficient process and only costs 5% of the energy used to make new aluminium. Unlike plastic or glass, aluminium can be recycled indefinitely without having to add new raw materials to it and without altering its quality. Aluminium is also the most abundant metal on Earth. Two thirds of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today through recycling programs. In 60 days an aluminium can is back on the shelf. Recycling one can save enough energy to run your television for 3 hours.
We use local South African Masuga paper by Sappi for our cartons and brochures. It is made of 90% unbleached, chlorine-free sugar cane waste. The remaining 10% is virgin fibres from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified source.
Through centuries of discovery, use, and trial and error, local communities have acquired intrinsic knowledge of the properties of indigenous plants. Even though traditional communities do not necessarily have knowledge of the scientific mechanisms at play, the discovery of the benefits of plant extracts is the achievement of these traditional people and the intellectual property is rightly theirs. No commercial enterprise or brand, whether local or international, has the right to claim it as its own.
Terres d’Afrique products are inspired by the traditional use of indigenous plants. We see our role as being to help preserve this cultural heritage - often transmitted orally - that is under threat of disappearing as a result of urbanisation and the replacement of natural ingredients with synthetic substitutes. It is a privilege to have access to such extraordinary knowledge and pass on the value to people who use our products – and, also, to make it possible for traditional communities to benefit materially from their knowledge and work.
Being a new brand, we do not yet have structures in place to share a percentage of profit with the producers of ingredients – which is the basic principle of benefit sharing. We do, however, support the philosophy of benefit sharing and the principle of treating people with respect, by using Fairtrade ingredients wherever possible.
Fairtrade means paying a fair price to producers for their harvests, the goal being to alleviate poverty in rural areas where farming is difficult. Getting composite products such as skincare formulations to be Fairtrade certified is a complex procedure, so our products are not Fairtrade certified as such but most of the ingredients used in them are Fairtrade. Even though we do not always pay producers and growers directly - as some of these ingredients first need to be pre-processed or purified – we buy ingredients that are Fairtrade, when the quality meets our standards.
Ultimately, the benefit of Fairtrade is that it improves the livelihood of women and uplifts communities. Interestingly, it also has a positive impact on the environment. As one example, when the growers of our marula nuts started earning more for their harvest, they reinvested in more marula trees.
What exactly is biodiversity? ‘Biodiversity collectively describes the vast array of approximately 9 million unique living organisms (including Homo sapiens) that inhabit the earth, together with the interactions amongst them. The concept includes every species of bacteria, virus, plant, fungi, and animal, as well as the diversity of genetic material within each species. It also encompasses the diverse ecosystems the species make up and the ongoing evolutionary processes that keep them functioning and adapting. Without these organisms, ecosystems and ecological processes, human societies could not exist. They supply us with oxygen and clean water. They cycle carbon and fix nutrients. They enable plants to grow and therefore to feed us, keep pest species and diseases in check and help protect against flooding and regulate the climate. These benefits are known as ecosystem services. A functioning natural world also provides a living for farmers, fishers, timber-workers and tourism operators to name but a few. So biodiversity keeps us alive, but there are other less tangible benefits.’
The human race depends on these biological resources for its well-being.
Biodiversity provides basic resources for industry, from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to agriculture and horticulture. It is also crucial for healthy environmental functioning - like climate stabilisation, for instance - and it gives ecological systems and organisms the resilience to respond and adapt to change.
Biodiversity is so crucial for environmental, economic, social and cultural reasons that it requires international regulatory protection. The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – the most comprehensive international agreement on biodiversity – took the step of linking economic incentives to the protection of biological resources.
Why is biodiversity such a hot button now? Because more than 25% of the world’s biodiversity is in Africa and our particular region has more than 30 000 species of indigenous plants which for centuries, have been part of the African tradition. If biodiversity is under threat – which it is – then our very survival is compromised. About 2000 species disappear every year. This decline in biodiversity will not only impact on rural communities but ultimately also on our livelihood.
Terres d’Afrique plays its part in protecting biodiversity by ensuring that our wild harvested ingredients are harvested in a way that does not deplete ecosystems. Terres d’Afrique promotes organic farming - since not using pesticide helps to preserve biodiversity. By paying Faitrade prices for ingredients we encourage people to protect natural resources. As one example, when the growers of our marula nuts started earning more for their harvest, they reinvested in more marula trees.