(Soy wax in its pure form)
Since Koppraia's inception, crafting a product that's made from sustainable materials has never been up for compromise. But sustainability isn't simply about using a plant-based resource, it also concerns the process. Our wax is made from a blend of soy, rapeseed and coconut, all produced sustainably and responsibly, but the same can’t be said for all soy products on the market. As we champion the movement towards 'conscious consumption', we wanted to highlight the ecological and social issues associated with the soy industry, which need careful consideration in order to be avoided.
IN SOUTH AMERICA
Around the world there is an ever-growing demand for soy - nicknamed the 'king of beans' - with Brazil, Argentina and the USA together producing about 80% of the world's supply. This surging demand for soy, primarily as animal feed, has lead to widespread deforestation to the Brazilian Cerrado (a vast area of mixed woodland and savannah), the Amazon, the Gran Chaco, and the Atlantic Forests of South America. This in turn has a negative impact on climate change, with the WWF estimating that deforestation is responsible for about 15% of all the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by people. Opening up this new agricultural land for plantations in South America can also lead to social conflicts with local communities and indigenous peoples, along with economic imbalances between the large scale soy growers and local economies.
So, to avoid contributing to the wealth of issues associated with South American soy, we work closely with our suppliers to ensure that the soy used for our candle wax is not sourced from rainforest regions, but instead in grown in the USA where the crops are often in rotation with corn.
IN THE USA
On the flip side of sourcing soy from the USA, care has to be taken to avoid the presence of genetically modified materials. The United States Department of Agriculture reports 93% of the planted acres of soybeans are genetically modified to make them tolerant to herbicides. This means that when a herbicide is applied it kills the weeds but doesn't harm the crop. Such genetic modifications have come under fire for their potential biomedical risks and environmental side effects such as the selection of resistant insects and weeds. So, given the widespread supply of GM soy in the USA, it's no surprise that having such a headstrong demand for clean and green ingredients made it significantly harder to find a supplier to work with, and it makes the GMO free and organic soy used in our candles somewhat of a commodity.
At Koppraia, holding ourselves to high ethical standards might make our job harder when it comes to our supply chain, but it's something that we are fully committed to. At a consumer level, it's important to recognise the issues with ingredients that can end up in products on the market, and to use this to make informed purchasing decisions. Collectively, we can make a massive difference by shopping consciously and increasing the demand for ethically sourced products.