By Yuna Kang
Palm oil is used in almost every product on the supermarket shelf, from ice cream to toothpaste. The palm tree grows in tropical rainforests around the globe, and increasing demand for palm oil has caused the number of palm plantations to double in the last 10 years. These plantations destroy the habitat of many endangered animals such as orangutans, elephants, tigers, and rhinos. It is estimated that palm oil production has caused the orangutan population to lose 90 percent of its natural habitat. As a result, over 50,000 orangutans have died in the past two decades alone.
KNOW THESE CULPRITS
Every day we consume products with palm oil without realizing it. However, compared to soybean and sunflower oil, palm oil is the most efficient vegetable oil crop to grow, hence the reason palm plantations have skyrocketed over the past ten years. If palm oil can be used in a very versatile manner and is cheaper than other vegetable oils then how do we make a more environmentally friendly decision?
3 Smart Strategies To Be Rainforest-Friendly Consumer
First, find products with no palm oil in them or if that is not an option then look for products with certified sustainable palm oil. If you see RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) marked on the product then it has been sustainably sourced. RSPO gives their trademark to oil palm growers who meet RSPO’s strict standards. They require protection of the environment and wildlife while supporting poverty reduction from sustainable palm oil growers. One of their most important criterias states that areas which have a traditional culture of local communities cannot be cleared. Globally, only 19% of palm oil is certified by RSPO. So when the products have RSPO mark, you will know that the palm oil is sustainably produced.
Second, investigate the products you buy and be an informed consumer. You can find a list of non-palm oil products here, https://lovepalmoil.com/retailers/ or you can use the Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping app to scan products in the supermarket to see if they are sustainability sourced.
Buying only products that are made with certified sustainable palm oil is a way to use your consumer power to put pressure on companies to produce sustainable palm oil. As consumers, we should use our power to check out companies’ manufacturing processes and the ingredients they use in their products, to then only buy the products that are good for the environment.
Last, share what you learned about the relationship between palm oil and the deforestation of the rainforest. Tell your family and friends so they know the dangers that palm oil creates and what products and information to look for so they may make an informed decision.