What’s palm oil?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the pulp from the fruit of the oil palm. It is something that Americans come into contact with everyday, but most people do not realize it. How much harm can an oil cause? A lot! The palm oil industry contributes to deforestation which destroys the home of animals and indigenous peoples. This oil can be found in a variety of packaged food products such as Oreos, Pop Tarts, Cheez Its, protein bars, various cereals, and even butter. Palm oil is not only found in snacks as it can also be found in beauty products, soap, and shampoo. These products can be easily replaced with brands who don’t use palm oil or source sustainable palm oil.
What’s sustainable palm oil?
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, RSPO, certifies companies that use sustainable palm oil. According to the World Wildlife Fund this means “ the plantation was established on land that did not contain significant biodiversity, wildlife habitat or other environmental values, and meets the highest environmental, social and economic standards as set out by the RSPO”(Certified sustainable palm oil) This means that the animals and people are not being forced out of their home or being killed. Many orangutans are killed unnecessarily when the palm oil plantations are put up in Sumatra and Borneo. When you by products that contain palm oil you are supporting an industry that kills animals and is causing extinction.
Who is being effected by the palm oil industry?
The Orangutan calls the islands of Sumatra and Borneo home and these islands are located in Indonesia. According to the World Wildlife Fund “Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 85% of the world’s palm oil …Fewer than 80,000 of these animals survive today, their habitats under constant threat of deforestation”(Endangered species threatened by unsustainable palm oil production). These animals are considered an endangered species and if palm oil production continues at this alarming rate these great red apes will be extinct in less than 20 years. The orangutans are not the only ones losing their homes. There are indigenous people who also call the forests home. These people are losing their homes as the palm oil companies buy their land and they are forced to leave. Now that you know how terrible this industry is I’m sure you want to change your ways.
What can you do to help?
Next time you go shopping read the label! Palm oil is listed under the ingredients so all you have to do is read and not purchase products that contain it. At first this will add some time to your shopping routine, but over time you will remember what brands not to buy from. By taking this little bit of extra time you are sending a message to companies that they need to change their ways. If more people stop supporting companies contributing to deforestation they will become more sustainable to stay in business. Also be sure to look out for the RSPO symbol on products that use sustainable palm oil. When you buy those products you are sending a message to companies that they are making the right decision by helping the planet. These two small steps can make a big difference, so now that you know about this issue… go out into the World and make a change!
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