Shedding Light on the Environmental Impact of Candles

Shedding Light on the Environmental Impact of Candles

Candles have long served as a symbol of tranquility and ambiance, casting a warm glow that transforms spaces into sanctuaries. Each year over 1 billion candles are purchased with estimates of growth up to 30% by 2029. It seems like everyone loves candles. But many wonder about the complex environmental footprint of their flickering friends. So, let’s dig in on ways to enjoy your candles sustainably.

First let’s talk wax. Traditional paraffin wax candles are derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Like all petroleum-based products, their production contributes to carbon emissions and deforestation. Then, when burned, they emit harmful chemicals like benzene and toluene. Benzene is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), meaning it has the potential to cause cancer in humans. Toluene, while not classified as a carcinogen, can cause a range of health issues including respiratory problems, neurological effects, and reproductive harm. When candles containing paraffin wax are burned, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released into the air. These VOCs contribute to indoor air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies. In outdoor environments, VOC emissions from candles can contribute to smog formation and air quality degradation.

Sustainable Swap: Look for candles made from soy or beeswax. Soy wax, made from soybean oil, boasts cleaner burning properties and is renewable. Similarly, beeswax, a natural byproduct of honey production, emits no harmful toxins when burned.

Next up, fragrances. Many conventional candles are scented with fragrances containing phthalates and parabens, chemicals commonly used as stabilizers and preservatives in fragrances. However, research has linked phthalates and parabens to a range of health issues, including hormone disruption, reproductive harm, and allergies.

Sustainable Swap: Only choose candles scented with paraben and phthalate-free fragrances to minimizing exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals. By opting for natural essential oils or fragrance blends derived from plant-based sources, consumers can enjoy the aromatic ambiance of candles without compromising their health or the environment. Not only are these alternatives safer for human health, but they also tend to have a lighter environmental footprint, as they are often derived from renewable resources and biodegradable materials.

Finally let’s cover packaging. Of the 1 billon candles purchased each year, most of these them are eventually thrown away every day. This means millions of candles vessels are piling up in landfills and polluting our ecosystems.

Sustainable Swap: Start by extending the life of candles through proper care and maintenance to minimizes their environmental footprint. Trimming wicks, using appropriate holders, and avoiding drafts can enhance burning efficiency and longevity. Embracing a circular economy mindset, repurposing candle containers or opting for refillable options further mitigates waste. Find a candle fill event in your area or visit a candle pouring bar. Many companies also offer candle refill kits that allow you to easily turn your empty vessel in to a new candle in no time.

In conclusion, while candles can cast shadows on environmental sustainability, conscientious choices can illuminate a path towards eco-friendliness. By selecting candles crafted from renewable materials, reducing waste through thoughtful consumption, and repurposing containers, we can infuse our spaces with warmth and ambiance while honoring the planet. So, let's light up our lives responsibly and enjoy the glow of candles in harmony with nature.