Saturday, 12 December 2015

Palm Oil

Unless you've been living under a rock (at least in NZ) you've probably heard about Palm oil.

Maybe you've even seen it on the back of household products, but dismissed it as just another
random thing with an obscure name you have no idea about.

Let me shed some light:

Here are some basic facts about Palm oil.

What is it? Where does it come from? 

Palm oil is literally what it sounds like; oil from the fruit of an African Oil Palm.

(above photo:

It's grown in most tropical climates, from the Amazon to Borneo.

And it is used in a variety of household products.
Your shampoo, your icecream, cosmetic products, soaps, cookies, crackers, practically everything.

Yes, the versatile, cheap Palm oil is everywhere. And it's pretty useful.
It also provides a source of income for local villages who may, without the work producing palm oil, have slipped below the poverty line.

Okay, so what's the issue? 
Think of it this way.

We know there are more people, who are eating more, consuming more (see where I'm going with this?), so naturally, the consumption, and the demand for Palm oil is increasing.
With the increase of the demand of Palm oil, comes the increase of Palm oil plantations.

As Palm oil is being grown largely in the tropics,
the increase of Palm oil plantations means the deforestation of rain forests.
Rain forests are a humdrum of different species, and are some of the most bio-diverse places on

So diverse, we haven't even discovered all of the species in them. Yet.

In some areas of the Amazon, deforestation is occurring at the rate of one football field per minute,
The plantations can also cause the indigenous people strife as well, as often the companies
running the plantations bulldoze straight through villages, destroying crops and livelihoods with the
rain forest. In this way, they are forced to work in the plantations, or go hungry.

In turn producing more Palm oil, feeding and increasing the demand, whilst more and more
species go extinct and what happens to the locals continues to happen.

It's a vicious cycle.

Imagine, species that we haven't even encountered yet going extinct before we even have a
chance to observe their beauty and brilliance. It's happening right now.

What can we do?

Stop consuming Palm oil produced in unsustainable ways.
I don't mean flat out just using shampoo and soap. That would be gross.
But filter out the items that do contain Palm oil, and stop buying them. Just check the list of
ingredients of said products.
However, because of palm oil's popularity, or rather lack of it, there are many different names for it, which makes the whole not using it thing a lot harder.
Names of Palm oil

(Due to the growing awareness around palm oil, some products have sustainable palm oil labels, or palm oil free labels.)

As always, talking about issues raises the awareness around them and makes them more visible.

A good example of people boycotting palm oil making a difference, is when Cadbury removed Palm oil from its chocolate exported to NZ. There was a wave of public outcry when it was
revealed their chocolate contained the oil.
So, keep this in mind next time you go grocery shopping.

Thanks for reading,

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