Take my bathroom as an example. An examination of its contents last night revealed over six products that had it lurking in their ingredients. And all the products in my bathroom are made by ethical brands who trade on being green, paraben free, against animal testing etc.
Why should we give two hoots about Palm Oil though? Why the fuss? Well, it always helps to see things first hand, and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time working in Malaysia and Indonesia, and to witness the catastrophic effects of Palm Oil production with my own eyes. The South-East Asian rainforest is the oldest consistent rainforest on earth, with a biological richness and diversity unequalled even by the Equatorial or Amazon rainforests. Yet thanks to the rapacious growth of Palm Oil, these forests are being destroyed at a terrifying rate. Borneo and Sumatra, once covered in primary rainforest, now have barely any left. Rather, both islands have been covered in thousands of hectares of uniform ranks of Palm Oil plantations. Orang Utangs are vanishing, the Penan nomads have nowhere left to go, the Sumatran tiger is almost extinct and countless other species of flora and fauna are teetering on the edge of existence. Moreover, if we humans destroy all the rainforests on this planet, we are cutting down our lungs and humanity will not be able to survive. It really is that simple.
It may sound dramatic, but making a stand against Palm Oil and trying to save the last of South-East Asia’s rainforests could be the single most important thing in terms of saving our planet. So why not try and make 2012 a Palm Oil Free year? Isn’t our planet worth it?
Palm oil facts*
- 90 per cent of Sumatra’s orangutan population has disappeared since 1900. They now face extinction
- 90 per cent of wildlife disappears when the forest is replaced by palm, creating a biological desert
- 98 per cent of Indonesia’s forests may be destroyed by 2022 according to the United Nations
- 43 of Britain’s 100 top grocery brands contain or are thought to contain palm oil
How to spot Palm Oil
Palm Oil is hidden in products under numerous guises – here are a few of the main culprits.
Vegetable oil, Sodium Lauryl Sulphates, Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate, Palmate, Palm Oil Kernal, Palmitate, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Elaeis Guineensis, Steareth-2, Steareth-20, Hydrated palm glycerides, Cety palmitate & ocyl palmitate (anything ending with palmitate)
Some common products that contain Palm Oil
Philadephia cheese, Heinz baked beans, Pedigree Chum dog food, Hovis bread, Persil, Flora margarine, Head & Shoulders shampoo, most biscuits and chocolate.
Here’s a link to an exhaustive list of products with and without Palm Oil
Please note, many brands now use RSPO (Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil). However, there are questions over this and the best policy is to avoid it altogether.
*Source: The Independent