The Dangers of Palm Oil

Consumers’ demand for palm oil is one of the biggest threats to tropical forests and the species that live there. This single vegetable oil is found in approximately 40-50% of household products in countries such as United States, Canada, Australia, and England.

Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant.

Today, 85% of all palm oil is globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia, but most of the time not using sustainable measures.

The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations.

image courtesy of coolearth.org
image courtesy of coolearth.org

According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers less than 3 years.

Endangered species: Sumatran Tiger
image courtesy of wikipedia

Did you know palm oil has more than 200 names?

Here are some of the most common:

Cetyl Alcohol                  Palmityl Alcohol

Cetyl Palmatate             Palmolein

Elaeis Guineensis          Sodium Palmate

Epoxidized Palm Oil     Steareth-2

Emulsifiers                      Isopropyl Palmitate

Palm Fruit Oil                 Stearic Acid

Palm Kernel (Oil)           Sodium Lauryl Lactylate

 

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO

 HELP SAVE TROPICAL FORESTS

  1. Reduce your use of palm oil. Palm oil is found in half of the processed food sold in the US as well as in beauty products, cleaning supplies, even pet food! Read labels and use olive oil and/or canola oil wherever possible. Make a pledge to use less palm oil!
  2. Buy products from companies that have sustainable palm oil policies. Companies like Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg, and Nestle are working to make sure their palm oil supply chains don’t endanger rainforests. Companies like PepsiCo (Frito Lay) need to do more to keep rainforests and the species that live there safe.
  3. Reduce the amount of paper you use. Reuse and recycle paper. Buy recycled paper products. Use only responsibly harvested wood products.
  4. Reduce your carbon foot print. Turn off lights, ride your bike, use less gas, eat less meat, and don’t waste water.
  5. Support people and organizations that work to protect rainforests and the species that live there. Sign petitions, write letters, educate others about the importance of saving rainforests and orangutans.
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