The last couple of weeks here in London showed us some much needed sunshine – my blue and white hyacinths are shooting up in the garden, and I even saw the first bee of the year in the park the other day. I love bees, and last year was not kind on them. In fact, 2013 was one of the worst years for bees in recent history: the cold, wet, hard winter and spring in Europe and the use of pesticides in the US made their numbers drop at an alarming rate. I did what I could to help  – donated to bee charities and planted wildflowers in my garden. Which may not seem like much when done by a single person, but there’s strength in numbers. If combines, those efforts can really make a difference.

When it comes to natural skincare I make for Ravenscourt Apothecary, I always try to make the most ethical, green choices. You probably noticed that while the soap, fragrances and bathing salts are 100% vegan, our lip balms and salves do contain beeswax. When first creating them, I did consider the alternatives – both candelilla and carnauba waxes can be used instead. Those two are obtained from plants: candelilla wax comes from a small shrub native to Mexico and southwest of the US, and carnauba wax is derived from the leaves of a palm tree native to Brazil.

While they both make a great alternative to beeswax, I also made a conscious choice: to run my business in the most ecologically sound and sensible way possible. When deciding on the ingredients for my lip balms and salves, I had to consider the carbon footprint: having them shipped from across the globe did not seem like the most eco friendly option. So local, humanely harvested beeswax it was: luckily enough, I was able to find a couple of great suppliers who keep their bees in a responsible, sustainable way, giving them a break in the winter. My favorite is the London Bee Company. I also continue to give back to the bees by regularly donating a portion of the proceeds to bee charities – like the Bee Cause.

That said, I am always on the lookout for options, and it appears that olive wax can also be a great alternative to beeswax, and is completely vegan, to boot. I’ll report back once I’ve made a couple test batches!

Wishing everybody a wonderful spring and please bee friendly to every little creature around you.