We might think that wildlife is outside of our homes, but on closer inspection, wildlife is inside too, in the form of creams, oils, herbal medicines, teas, furniture, makeup items, drinks and food products.

Buying packaged and processed goods distances us from the plants, the processes, and the people involved in making the hundreds of products that we use every day. We call it the ‘Hidden Harvest’ because when we use a hand soap with shea butter or a shampoo with argan oil, we are so far removed from the original wild plant, the process of transforming it into a commodity and the people harvesting it, that the wild plant becomes hidden in plain sight.

Demand for plant ingredients is growing and rapidly, with trade in medicinal and aromatic plants having tripled over the past decade. The ‘hidden harvest’ is a critical source of income in rural areas.

However, thousands of harvested species are at risk from a combination of overharvesting and habitat loss, with more than 20% of species estimated to be threatened with extinction. Most wild plants are harvested and traded with little consideration for sustainability or whether local harvesters are fairly paid or treated with dignity and respect for the products they produce.

This all threatens biodiversity and wider ecosystems, and puts at risk the harvesting communities, businesses, and the products we rely on as consumers.

Join TRAFFIC, the FairWild Foundation, and our partners on a journey of finding the wild in your everyday products – to be inspired by how special these plants and the people who harvest them are, learn about their sustainability, and what you can do as a consumer to ensure a sustainable future for wild plants and people!

Common Wild Ingredients in Bathroom Products

Argan oil

Sourced from nuts wild-harvested from argan trees that only grow in Morocco. Argan oil is commonly found in shampoos, moisturizers, face creams, lip glosses, and soaps.

Shea butter

Comes from the shea nut, produced by the shea tree which is indigenous to the dry Sahel region of Africa. Found widely in skin and hair products, as well as in chocolate (as a cocoa butter alternative).*

Candelilla wax

A wax harvested from the Euphorbia antisyphilitica plant, growing wild in Mexico. Used mainly in lip balms, it can also be found in chewing gum and in foods listed as additive E-902. This plant only grows in Mexico and its trade is controlled via an international agreement (CITES).*

Frankincense

An aromatic resin collected from wild trees in the genus Boswellia, mostly in the Horn of Africa. Prized for millennia and most often used today in perfumes and incense, it can also be found in skincare and lotions.

Where does it come from?

Find out a bit about the Frankincense harvest: who’s collecting the ingredients that end up in your perfume?

What you can do

1. Find your wild at home! Start by picking a few of your favourite lotions, balms, and hair products, and see if you can find any of the 4 ingredients listed above.

2. Share what you find on social media using #IFoundWild. Find inspiration here: FoundWild — FairWild Foundation

3. Ask your favourite companies if they’re aware that they use wild plant ingredients, and how they ensure they’re sourced responsibly – Tweet them or find their ‘contact us’ page

4. Look for the FairWild label for assurance that wild plant ingredients have been sourced responsibly. Here are the brands currently participating: FairWild Participants — FairWild Foundation

5. Get your friends & family involved by sharing your #IFoundWild during FairWild Week 2021 (21-25 June). Get ready by following @fairwild on Twitter.

What is FairWild?

FairWild is a sustainability framework for the collection and trade in wild plant products. The FairWild Standard guides businesses in sustainable collection and resource management, simultaneously ensuring collectors ethical working conditions and a fair wage. Watch the video to learn more.

Wild at Home

Wild at Home is a new TRAFFIC project aiming to ‘bring to light’ to industry and consumers wild plant ingredients, and support the uptake of good sourcing practices in wild plant trade chains. The project will inspire and support corporate and consumer action on behalf of wild plants in trade and those who harvest them, including through developing market linkages to rural communities that produce and rely on wild plants for income and livelihoods. The project is funded by the Swedish Postcode Foundation and FAO.

Keep an eye out in June for the launch of profiles on the Wild Dozen – the 12 most commonly traded wild plant ingredients – to help you further your #IFoundWild journey! See our Wild at Home report at the link below and follow @FairWild on Twitter

See the Wild at Home report and find out more

TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC is a leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Our mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.

FairWild is an organisation helping to ensure a sustainable future for wild plant resources and people. As the only standard developed to address the specific social and environmental issues surrounding wild plant collection, third-party audited FairWild certification demonstrates ethical sourcing of wild plant ingredients to consumers.

TRAFFIC has a partnership agreement with the FairWild Foundation, which includes hosting FairWild’s secretariat and partnering to implement field projects.

* Shea butter image photo credit: “Shea Nut Extraction” by whiteafrican is licensed under CC BY 2.0
* Candelilla wax photo credit: “Euphorbia antisyphilitica ~ oscote365 82” by Don J Schulte is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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