Face Palm to Palm Oil
Palm oil is pretty nasty stuff. It doesn't offer much nutritional value, but is commonly used in over 50% of manufactured food products as well as health and beauty products. The problem with the stuff is how it's harvested. In order to harvest palm oil, referred to as "liquid ivory," you have to cut down a palm tree. In order to manufacture enough palm oil to meet the current global demand for it, you have to annihilate an entire rainforest. And that is exactly what palm oil manufacturers are doing. The affects on the rainforests of Indonesia have been absolutely catastrophic.
The deforestation has affected not only the animal and plant populations of the region, but also the native peoples who live in and depend on the rainforest for their way of life. The population most devastated by the palm oil industry though, has been the orangutans. In just the past 20 years, over 90% of the orangutans' natural habitat has been destroyed.
|The palm oil industry may lead to the extinction of orangutans in the wild. |
Image courtesy of saynotopalmoil.com.
Small Things We Can DoThere are lot of things we can all do to help the effort to stop deforestation by the palm oil industry. You can sign petitions, contact manufacturers, donate, or adopt an orangutan. The easiest thing to do is stop buying products with palm oil in them.
I see palm oil showing up in the ingredient lists of even some of my favorite organic and eco-friendly (even "cruelty-free") beauty, health, and food products. The stuff is everywhere and tricky to avoid. Here are a few lists that I'm using to help me eliminate palm oil from my home.
- EthicalConsumer.org has compiled a list of products that are free of palm tree oil. They also provide an email address so that consumers can help add to the list. Check out their palm-oil-free list here.
- Care2 has a list on their website of some of the many brands and products that do use palm oil. Here's the list of products to avoid.
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) created a Palm Oil Buyers Score Card to help educate consumers about how certain brands are using palm oil. It was created in 2011 and focuses mostly on European companies.
- The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has created a guide of products containing palm oil that was harvested sustainably. It contains brands that can be found around the globe.
- Palm oil can be sneaky. It disguises itself on ingredient lists, hiding behind names like "vegetable oil" or "stearic acid." Here's a list of names palm oil can be labeled under.
- Rainforest Action Network's petition urges Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil to the U.S. to implement new safeguards for the protection of wildlife throughout the company's harvesting process. (RAN has a whole page of online actions worth signing.)
- The Green Palm petition supports a sustainable method of palm oil harvesting.
- This petition on Change.org urges the makers of Nutella to stop using palm oil in their product. This one is a total bummer because that stuff is so tasty! Luckily, there are a lot of versions of recipes online so you can make your own!
If you're interested in learning more about palm oil harvesting, or you want to get more involved, I urge you to visit the Say No To Palm Oil website. You can also check out the recommended reading, below.
Here's a video of a piece that was actually featured on NBC Nightly News all about how the palm oil industry is destroying the natural habitat of orangutans, and what we can do to help.
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has a great Problem with Palm Oil Fact Sheet.