What's Really Going On With Palo Santo

If you’re anything like us, you probably spend more time than you’d like to admit on social media. We get it, there are so many cute cat videos and you need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to see them all. But in all seriousness, we bring this point up because there is a good chance that as of right now you’ve seen one or multiple posts about palo santo being on the endangered species of trees list. At The Urban + The Mystic sustainability and respecting mother nature are paramount. So when we first started reading these reports we became very concerned, as Palo Santo is in our Good Vibes, Calling in Love and Bride boxes and since we only have the intention to be part of the solution we decided we needed to do our own independent research to get through the noise and find out what was going on with our beloved palo santo. 

Palo santo comes from various places within South America. It is also known as ‘holy wood’ when burned palo santo not only gives off an incredibly rich and fragrant smell but in addition has many healing properties. It cleanses you and/or space of negative energy, calls in positive energy, love, and good fortune, inspires creativity, helps one connect more deeply whatever their higher power is, aids in physical healing, relieving stress and also acts as an insect repellent. Suffice to say, it is one powerful piece of wood and loved by many. 

It is because of the aforementioned, that we took a deep dive into researching what was really going on with palo santo because if we want to be an ethical company we have to be in the know and make our decisions based on what is best for the planet. In the end, what we discovered about palo santo was very positive news. Now stay with us here because these names don’t necessarily roll off the tongue, so we’ll give them nicknames. There are two species of trees that are considered to be palo santo, Bursera graveolens (the palo santo that WE use, so for the purpose of this article we’ll refer to it as U+M palo santo) and the second is, Bulnesia sarmientoi, also a form of palo santo and is very much endangered, we call this the endangered palo santo.  We think that’s easy enough to follow. U+M palo santo is ethically sourced in Ecuador. The endangered palo santo grows in Argentia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. This was the first sign that U+M palo santo is not endangered. The second and most important fact came from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of plants and animals and for the first time in December 2019 they officially released a statement declaring U+M palo santo “of least concern”. You can read more in-depth about this in the NY Times article.

Now that we know U+M palo santo is ethically sourced, not endangered and we have the green light to use it and receive it’s healing properties, we also want to highlight that by buying ethically sourced palo santo you are closing the door for ‘black market’ palo santo to be of any monetary value. If we all stop buying it, they will stop selling it, meaning these trees will continue to thrive in their natural environment without risk of being cut down, which is another way to be part of the solution. 

All of this is a long way of saying that we deeply care about the health of our planet and want to make sure we are making the most ethical decision we can at every turn. So even though to some this might seem like an unimportant little stick of wood; to us, it is a very big deal that it is not endangered and sourced ethically. What it really comes down to is that at The Urban + The Mystic we believe that if it’s good for the planet it is good for us and our only desire is to spread what is good.