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Circular Economy, Consumption, Inclusive Growth

Perfume coalition’s conservation-first approach: Q&A with Heather D’Angelo

Mongabay | Aug 07, 2020

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Perfumery has long been a profitable industry that attracts millions of consumers worldwide. However, many consumers are kept in the dark of how their favourite fragrances are sourced and produced.

As ethical and environmental concerns become increasing important to consumers, there is greater pressure for more diverse industry types, including the perfume industry, to reconsider their practices.

In this article, Mongabay interviews Heather D’Angelo, who has launched the Coalition of Sustainable Perfumery (COSP). It is an interesting piece that uniquely identifies how these groups are changing the perfume industry to become more sustainable! Read more to learn how it is even possible.

This article was originally published by Mongabay and is republished with permission.

  • Heather D’Angelo is an ecologist, musician and perfumer who recently launched the Coalition of Sustainable Perfumery (COSP) with fellow independent artisans.
  • The initiative works to bring greater transparency to the beauty and fragrances industry, including in the way essential oils are grown, harvested, distilled and packaged.
  • In an interview with Mongabay, D’Angelo talks about sustainability in the $30 billion perfume industry, her musical output, and why she’s reluctant to release a new fragrance in the time of pandemic.

An entrepreneur and musical artist who works at the apex of luxury and ethics making some of the most unique fragrances, Heather D’Angelo is forging alliances toward protecting the Amazon.

Launched on Earth Day 2020, the Coalition of Sustainable Perfumery (COSP) will feature interviews with industry leaders, sustainability experts, and fellow perfumers as the organization works toward greater transparency in the beauty and fragrances industry. In the inaugural episode, COSP founders Heather D’Angelo of Carta Fragrances, Mauricio Garcia of Herbcraft Perfumery, Molly Brennan of Sacred Scents, and Sydney Buffman of Syd Botanica discuss why making perfumery as sustainably as possible is important.

Mongabay caught up with D’Angelo recently to find out more about her newest venture.

Heather D’Angelo. Image courtesy Heather D’Angelo.

Mongabay: Tell us about launching COSP?
Heather D’Angelo: I launched the Coalition of Sustainable Perfumery (COSP) along with three fellow perfumer friends, Mauricio Garcia, Sydney Buffman and Molly Brennan. The four of us came together because we were frustrated by the lack of transparency in the perfume industry and sought to gather information and provide resources for consumers and other perfumers about how to make more responsible choices.

As part of our outreach, we’re conducting a series of videos (that we plan to repurpose for a podcast) with people from all over the perfume industry — chemists, essential oil manufacturers, packaging experts, etc. — to get to the bottom of our very long list of questions about sourcing. You can check out our website here.

We plan to use the platform to ask questions, find answers, and provide people in the beauty and fragrance industry with the resources necessary to make the best choices as a consumer. We are committed to that goal, whether it’s tackling supply chain and packaging issues, or addressing hard topics such as toxicology and colonialism.

What does being sustainable in perfumery mean and why does it matter?
When it comes to what sustainable perfumery looks like, that’s a complex question we’re still working to figure out the answers to. We know that it begins with purchasing essential oils that have been grown, harvested and distilled using sustainable methods, choosing to use recycled materials, and eliminating plastic from packaging wherever possible. Given that the perfume industry generates over $30 billion in annual revenue, the choices we make today as indie perfumers can have wide-scale impacts down the line.

What is the team like?
Part of my background is as a tropical ecologist with a focus on agriculture, while Mauricio brings a special talent for duplicating the scent of endangered botanicals using synthetics. Molly brings a background in sustainable international development to perfumery, informing her purchasing and creation with a concern for environmental and social impacts. As a designer and herbalist, Sydney has long cared for plants that fostered a concern for sustainable practices in perfumery.

What led up to COSP for you?
After launching Moena 12|69 [a perfume extract], I focused on building my business. I had begun teaching perfuming prior to launching my company, but my teaching load really picked up afterward. I taught classes locally around the Bay Area at women’s groups including The Wing, The Assembly, and the Ruby, and I also taught classes at local boutiques including Freda Salvador and Jenny Lemons.

How has the global upheaval of recent months impacted you?
Since the pandemic, I’ve shifted from teaching in-person to teaching virtually through my online classes. I’ve also been developing a new fragrance since last year. I recently finished it but I hesitate to launch a new product given the current climate. There is a strong link between scent and memory, and I’m not sure anyone will want a time capsule of this particularly difficult moment in humanity’s history. So, I’m going to wait a bit until things feel more hopeful.

What’s been going on with your music lately?
As far as music goes, Au Revoir Simone has been pretty quiet since being on Twin Peaks; however, we launched two singles recently called “How Long” and “Come Away.” We’re not working on an album, we just had some songs to share. I’ve been working on some other music that I can’t yet disclose but I can keep you in the loop!

Banner image: A COSP kit. Image courtesy Heather D’Angelo.

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