If you are in the skincare industry, you have probably heard of Mica Powder. But perhaps you have stumbled across it because some ingredients say “without mica”. Then you must wonder, what's the problem with Mica Powder? What's the big deal? Why is everyone labelling things with “no mica”? Isn't it natural?
Yes, it is, but there is a myriad of issues with its production. Do you want to learn about Mica and ensure you have an ethically sourced product? Then this blog post is for you…
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What is Mica Powder?
Mica Powder, or Mica, is a 100% naturally occurring mineral composed of up to 37 different minerals; it's commonly known as Muscovite which is part of the quartz family. Mica is an entirely natural material and is not artificially produced or synthesized.
It is mainly known for its unique variety of physical (sparkling) properties, including its ability to split into thin, flexible sheets. Mica is non-toxic and harmless to humans, animals, and the environment. It does not harm the skin.
What is Mica used for?
It is often used as an ingredient in cosmetics, paints, and other materials due to its reflective and shimmery properties. Mica is valued for its optical properties and is used in various industries, including electronics, construction, automotive, and aerospace. Its uses have made it a valuable material, with some rare varieties worth considerable money.
Mica has been used for centuries to add shine, sparkle, and colour to multiple products, making it a popular ingredient in many consumer goods.
Where is Mica found?
Mica is found in many areas worldwide, including the United States, Canada, China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Chile. The largest producer of Mica is India, supplying over 60% of the world's mica demand.
How is Mica Manufactured?
Mica is extracted from the earth by mining. This process involves digging deep into the ground to reach mica deposits, which are extracted and processed to remove impurities and ensure their quality and consistency.
The extracted Mica is then processed into various forms, such as mica flakes, mica powder, or mica sheets, which can be used in different industries.
What is the Big Deal About Mica?
The production methods of Mica have become increasingly controversial in recent years due to the widespread use of child labour and dangerous working conditions in mica mines in countries such as India, the world's largest mica producer. This has led to concerns about ethical and sustainable mica production.
Organizations such as the European Mica Initiative and many companies have committed to sourcing Mica certified as sustainable. As such, shoppers are now encouraged to look for products made from sustainable and ethically sourced Mica to support responsible production practices and reduce the environmental impact of mica production.
The environmental impact of mica production is primarily due to the mining process. The mining of Mica often leads to deforestation, with trees being cleared to create more space for mining, as well as increased dust emissions, noise pollution, and contamination of local water sources.
Furthermore, mica mining is known to be labour-intensive. More vulnerable and poorer people in developing countries often carry it out, leading to further exploitation and human rights concerns. Additionally, the use of child labour in mica mines has been linked to several fatalities.
One of the main issues is the use of child labour in mica mines in countries such as India, the world's largest mica producer. Children, who are often paid meagre wages, are forced to work in dangerous conditions, with many suffering from respiratory problems, skin diseases, and other health issues due to exposure to mica dust.
A 2016 investigation by the Thompson Reuters Foundation revealed that several children were killed while working in illegal mines in India. As such, companies must consider human rights and environmental concerns when buying products with Mica and invest in environmental protection measures such as emissions control equipment to make mica mining more environmentally friendly.
How to Identify Sustainable and Ethical Mica Production in Europe
As consumers become more aware of the ethical and environmental issues associated with mica production, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that the Mica used in products is sourced from sustainable and ethical sources. One way to do this is to look for Mica certified as sustainable by organizations such as:
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit organization that conserves biodiversity and ensures sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behaviour. They focus on promoting the responsible use of natural resources, protecting biodiversity, and improving livelihoods for communities living near forests.
One of the Rainforest Alliance's critical programs is its certification program, which aims to promote sustainable agriculture, forestry, and tourism. Their certification ensures that products are grown or harvested using environmentally and socially responsible practices, such as reducing water usage and avoiding deforestation.
The Rainforest Alliance is important because they work to protect and preserve some of the world's most critical ecosystems and the people and animals that rely on them. Promoting sustainable practices and certification help reduce environmental harm and encourage social responsibility in businesses and industries worldwide.
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization that promotes responsible forest management by setting standards for forest products and certifying forests and products that meet those standards. They aim to ensure that forests are managed to protect biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the rights and well-being of forest-dependent communities.
FSC certification assures consumers that the wood, paper, and other forest products they buy come from responsibly managed forests. FSC also promotes the responsible sourcing of forest products, encouraging companies to use FSC-certified materials in their products and packaging.
The FSC is essential because it helps address the global problem of deforestation and forest degradation, contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, and social conflict. By promoting responsible forest management practices and providing certification, the FSC helps to ensure that forests are managed in a way that benefits people, the planet, and the economy.
Responsible mica initiative
The European Mica Initiative (EMI) is a multi-stakeholder project that aims to promote responsible sourcing practices and eliminate child labour and other human rights abuses in the mica supply chain. Mica is a mineral in many products, including cosmetics, electronics, and automotive components.
The EMI brings stakeholders from across the mica supply chain, including companies, NGOs, and governments, to collaborate on solutions to address child labour challenges and mica mines' poor working conditions. They work to raise awareness of the issue, improve traceability in the supply chain, and support communities to develop alternative livelihoods.
The EMI is significant because child labour and human rights abuses are widespread in the mica supply chain, particularly in India, where most of the world's Mica comes from. By bringing together stakeholders and promoting responsible sourcing practices, the EMI is working to address this issue and improve the lives of communities affected by mica mining. Additionally, the EMI's efforts also help to promote transparency and accountability in global supply chains, which can have positive impacts beyond the mica industry.
Mica is a versatile and widely used mineral that is the subject of much debate due to concerns over its ethical and sustainable production. By choosing products made from sustainable and ethically sourced Mica, you can help to support responsible and sustainable practices in the mica industry and promote the responsible use of this vital mineral.
This can help improve workers' lives in mica mines, reduce the environmental impact of mica production, and promote the responsible use of this critical mineral.
I also believe our lives deserve a little natural sparkle, and Mica does just that.