Have you ever heard of “The Proust Effect”? With a few drops of lavender essential oil, the floral aroma transport us back to a heart-purifying trip on a French farm, while the tangy cypress scent can remind us of childhood fun times. These unique fragrances have the power to inspire and motivate us, evoking precious life moments and even giving us the courage to make important decisions. Imagine if there was a scent called "Sustainability Life" that could remind us to live a green lifestyle immediately.
Beyond Academics, Being A Sustainable Global Citizen Is An Important Topic.
Although there is yet no such magical aromatherapy on the market, we interviewed Abbie Cheung, General Manager of Young Living Hong Kong and Macau, in ISSUE 15 of #EcoWithAttitude. As a working mom and leader in a multi-national corporate, Abbie shares her insights on how to lead a world-renowned wellness brand while implementing sustainable practices through their unique Seed to Seal® process in the beauty and wellness sectors. Read on to discover Abbie's tips for incorporating sustainability into your personal and professional life.
#1 How is Young Living implementing sustainability from farming to production, finished goods to education programs?
At Young Living, we take pride in setting ourselves apart from the rest of the essential oil industry. We own corporate farms, partner with farms, and work with Seed to Seal-certified suppliers worldwide. Every farm that we collaborate with must commit to and uphold our Seed to Seal® promise, which involves meeting our rigorous standards for "Sourcing", "Science", and "Standards". This is not only ensuring that we can provide the purest and most potent essential oils products to homes across the globe, but also striving to improve our production process in a sustainable way to protect our planet and conserve the earth's resources.
In respect of agriculture, we are trying our best and committing to exploring sustainable methods to optimize production progress. For instance, we have established partnerships with neighboring pastures to let herbivores help weed in the most natural way, reusing water from the distillation process for irrigation to reduce wastewater, and collaborating exclusively with ethical partners who source raw materials responsibly and comply with regulations. By taking these steps, we aim to extend our commitment to environmental protection beyond the essential oil movement.
Building upon the principles of our "Seed to Seal" promises, social education has been deeply ingrained in our organization's culture for many years. Even a decade ago, when essential oils were not yet widely known in Hong Kong, we proactively educated beginners on the benefits of essential oils, providing detailed safety guidance with high transparency. As part of our efforts, we made it possible for customers to access information about the entire production process, including origin places and planting soil, through our website.
Moving forward from staff training, we have expanded our educational efforts to include sustainability education. At our Experience Center, we have set up recycling bins and organized green workshops to encourage employees, members, and customers to join us in our eco-friendly endeavors. Through interactive and engaging activities, we educate our members on how to properly wash our product packages for recycling purposes, in order to promote eco-awareness and develop good recycling habits.
#2 How Young Living is taking a balance between economic development and preservation of the environment?
First things first, we would never compromise on our strict quality benchmarks for our products, even if it means higher costs, and no way out to stop us from identifying the purest, most genuine, and most effective ingredients to provide the highest quality essential oil products. To maintain our commitment to sustainability, Young Living has recruited professionals and experts, including farmers, scientists, and legal consultants, to examine our entire ecosystem in every aspect. In terms of production, we avoid using chemical fertilizers and precisely calculate fallow periods for the reforestation of harvested trees. To comply with global regulations, we work with top legal experts to formulate management plans and promote sustainable business development.
In addition, we take our responsibility as stewards of the planet seriously by pursuing six key initiatives: "Achieving Zero Waste", "Wrap It Up", "Treading Lightly", "At The Source", "More Than An Office", and "Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is". Through these green initiatives, we strive to minimize waste, reduce our environmental impact, and demonstrate our commitment to sustainability in every aspect of our business.
#3 How Young Living is seeing the importance of a community?
As a part of Young Living, we firmly believe in the value of "Take from nature, give back to nature", which is a core belief of our founder. We are committed to promoting social education, environmental protection, and sustainable development in line with this value. To alleviate the burden on our planet, improve grassroots living standards, and empower women, we have partnered with V Cycle in the long term to provide recycling solutions and transform collected recycled items into sustainable products. Through our collaboration, we have successfully created better job opportunities for local scavengers, whom we call "Carton Grannies", and helped to alleviate poverty. By following proper recycling processes, we can upcycle Young Living product packages and turn them into new products such as umbrellas, sunglasses, and road bricks to reduce waste generation.
#4 What are the sustainable actions that Young Living Hong Kong is taking?
From my perspective, I believe that sustainable living starts with every individual taking the first step. Our organization has taken several initiatives toward promoting eco-awareness and environmental protection. We organize eco-workshops and beach cleanups, aiming to allow participants to get closer to nature and understand the importance of environmental conservation. For instance, during the Shek O beach cleanup, more than a hundred staff, members, and their families participated and witnessed the amount of garbage produced daily. Additionally, we regularly conduct educational workshops at our Experience Center where parents and children can learn and work together on handling recyclables. For example, they learn how to properly clean and dry Young Living skincare product packages and remove non-recyclable stickers before disposing of them into the recycling collection bin.
#5 Why #INVISIBLEBAG for Young Living Hong Kong?
Initially, the idea of the water-soluble and biodegradable #INVISIBLEBAG package was brought up by our logistics and operations team. Due to the constant use of plastic bags in their daily work, they suggested the adoption of a more sustainable packaging solution. We evaluated the potential of #INVISIBLEBAG and determined that it would be a favorable upgrade in our packaging solutions, as it aligns with our corporate vision of sustainability. #INVISIBLEBAG serves as a greener alternative to traditional plastic bags and is an appropriate step toward our sustainability goals.
#6 What is your definition of sustainable beauty? And could you share your favorite products with us?
Personally, I prefer natural beauty products that are chemical-free and have no additives, causing no harm to the earth. I am very sensitive to every single product put on my skin, and this is one of the reasons why I often use Young Living essential oils and products. Additionally, during the pandemic, I have become more aware of the need to avoid using bleach cleaners that can harm our environment. As a result, I have replaced these cleaners with essential oils that have sterilization functions and am using greener methods to protect the health of my family.
Besides, I prioritize beauty that comes from the inside out. To help achieve this, I always keep two Young Living essential oils on hand: Frankincense and Valor. Frankincense, which has been used as a luxurious beauty product since ancient times by Egyptians, is derived from resin. I often add a few drops to my skincare products as a small reward for myself at the end of the day. The on-the-go Valor blend is made up of Black Spruce, Blue Tansy, Camphor Wood, Geranium, and Frankincense essential oils, and provides a refreshing feeling when applied to the back of the neck. Both essential oils are made from natural ingredients and promote relaxation, making them perfect for activities such as yoga, meditation, and rejuvenation. When you have a great inner state of being, it can show through in your outer appearance.
#7 As a mum of two, how important it is to live sustainably, and how your kids are aware of sustainability?
As a mother of two, being a sustainable global citizen is an important topic beyond academics. It is my hope that my children will learn to conserve resources on the earth through observation in their daily lives. In fact, I even named my daughter, inspired by the nature that embodies the blessing of natural beauty, goddess of the earth, and mother of all life in the hopes that she and her sibling will think of the beauty of our natural world whenever they hear their names.
Every little thing can be related to sustainability, just like your daily beauty routine that requires consistent effort to see results. As Abbie emphasizes, a green lifestyle is built slowly but surely, one step at a time, and it is crucial to connect with our community to make a positive impact. With sustainability being one of the biggest topics outside of academics, have you thought about starting with Clean Beauty today?
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