More and more companies are committed to caring for the environment and especially to restoring forests.
This story also appeared in Business Insider
In Spain, more than 100,000 hectares of forests burn on average a year, according to the Reforesta organization. In addition, in the month of August, when it is warmer, an average of 10,000 fires a day are registered around the world, alarming data that are destroying the lungs of the planet.
Many startups and international organizations fight these catastrophes on a daily basis, but there is one that does it from a totally different approach: Ashes to Life.
Leaving aside the idea of planting trees to regenerate burned forests, Ashes to Life seeks to restore ecosystems thanks to its ecological cosmetics made from vegetable ash, but with the aim of being able to reuse the ash from the trees in a responsible way in the future.
«At the moment we do not use the ash from burned forests because we do not want to take advantage of an environmental disaster thus, we do not want to generate an economy from it if we are sure that we are respecting the ecosystem “, explains Alejandro de Antonio, co-founder and creative director of Ashes to Life.
Ash cosmetics, but not at the cost of catastrophes
Named as one of the 101 activities that were acting for the climate at the last COP25 Climate Summit, the idea of Ashes to Life was born from a personal experience of its founder, Alejandro de Antonio.
After seeing how a forest he visited frequently burned down to ashes, he realized he had to do something about it.
After investigating, Alejandro learned that only 19% of the burned forests in Spain are reforested, and the reason was the lack of methodology when acting, but also that the resulting ash could be beneficial.
Hence the idea of creating Ashes to Life, a sustainable ash-based cosmetics company that could do its bit to save forests devastated by fire.
Today it has only 3 main partners, but it is a project involving dozens of people, from communication agencies and digital marketing, to environmental scientists and laboratories.
However, these laboratories are not their own and their production is national, since its aim is to also help local economies, although they do have international sales, since fires are a global problem.
3 product lines focused on taking care of your skin, but also of the forests
Realizing that they still did not have a clear plan for the use of ash from burned forests, they had to look for an alternative: vegetable ashes, much more environmentally friendly. about: blankabout: blank
Until now, Ashes to Life has 3 lines of sustainable cosmetics, with more than 95% organic and certified ingredients, created from artisanal processes, with prices ranging from 18.50 euros to 70 euros.
“The production costs are high because they are handcrafted products,” argues the co-founder. “To make the soap it is necessary to saponify it for an average of 45 days, depending on the environment, where every 2 days you have to turn it one by one by hand so that they dry equally”.
One of them is made from ashes from coconut shells, another from ash from the cleaning and controlled pruning of sustainably managed forests and a third anti-aging from plant stem cells thanks to biotechnology.
Specifically, this latest and new range is created through a process that allows 99.98% less water to be used than a traditional culture to obtain these stem cells.
Ashes to Life allocates up to 10% of the profits from its cosmetics to pay for its business project based on forest restoration.
“All these product lines help us to finance the environmental research project that we have in hand and which is the ultimate goal of the company,” adds Alejandro.
The project consists of a protocol that allows an ecological restoration of ecosystems devastated by fire, so that they can create a specific diagnosis of each area when there is a fire.
In other words, to be able to extract the resulting ash in a respectful way with the environment and to certify it for use in sustainable cosmetics, a triple impact model: with ecological, economic and social benefit.
Ashes to Life makes it possible to recover forests, generate an economy thanks to skin care and reestablish relationships between natural environments, thus boosting the local economies of the place, with benefits for tourism and the timber sector, among others.
This entire project has been financed so far with private capital and investments from the partners, although Alejandro de Antonio emphasizes that they need more contribution by companies and institutions, since it is a global problem.
A future marked by the restoration of ecosystems
However, forest restoration is part of a final stage, for now Ashes to Life is in the process of fully defining the project protocol, that is, right now they do not use ash from burned forests for their products.
“The easiest thing would have been to plant trees, but we believe this is more necessary, since ecological restoration does not always require planting trees,” argues the founder of the company. “Sometimes it is more important to put lines in the ground to avoid that the native seeds move and can germinate”.
His future projections are based on being able to extract the ash from a burned area and make a line of cosmetics with characteristics of the area, such as aroma, creating a special product capable of helping to finance that forest.
To make it possible, the costs would amount to 400 thousand euros, an amount for which they will still need more capital injections.
But until that moment arrives, the company has its eyes set on marketing its new line even more and entering the retail channel according to its ideals, since they intend to increase their sales channels, but without reaching a mass market.
In addition, Ashes to Life is in negotiations with some Arab countries, so they do not rule out expanding internationally, even if the procedures take time.
“Being a global problem, we want our proposal to reach everywhere, including areas as important as South America or the United States, due to the devastating fires that occur almost daily,” concludes Alejandro de Antonio. “The trend must always be sustainability and more and more companies will adopt it”.