Tips and Information for Living an Eco-Friendly Life
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The Hidden Effects of Palm Oil
Well, I am finally getting around to posting something. Rutgers has sole ownership of my life once again. So, my apologies to anyone who reads this (all 3 or 4 of you).
I wanted to share something a friend of mine posted on her Facebook (thanks Kelly). The Philadelphia Zoo has started a campaign to help raise awareness about the effects of the palm oil industry on deforestation and orangutan populations called the UNLESS Campaign. Many people are not aware of just how many products contain palm oil. It's in food of course, but also in things you may not think about like shampoos and cleaning products. And we don't directly see the effects from harvesting it because it occurs in Southeast Asia. However, palm oil, which comes from the oil palm plant, is the most widely produced vegetable oil and in the last decade, 80% of deforestation in Sumatra was caused by expanding non-sustainable palm oil plantations, according to the campaign. You see where this is going... no forests, no place for orangutans to live or find food, no orangutans... not to mention other animals like the Sumatran tiger.
the oil palm plant
Palm oil can be grown in a sustainable manner though. It is already being done, but only 52% of the available supply is being used. The people at the UNLESS Campaign say, "Without an increase in usage, growers could return to non-sustainable practices. By raising awareness of the close connection between palm oil and orangutans, we can help drive the demand for sustainable palm oil in the U.S. that will save habitat in Sumatra and Borneo." Therefore, it's important to know what you are buying. Check the ingredients for palm oil and find out which companies use sustainable palm oil and which don't. Usually the ingredient is not listed as "palm oil," but as a chemical derivative. Some ingredients to be aware of are palmitate, palmate, palm kernal oil (PKO), sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium dodecyl sulfate (the last few are often found in shampoos). Here's a list of just some companies committed to using sustainable palm oil: Avon Products, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Company, ConAgra Foods, H.J. Heinz Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods Inc., L’Oréal, McDonald’s, Nestlé, P&G (Procter & Gamble), PepsiCo Inc., S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Seventh Generation, The Body Shop, The Hershey Company, Unilever, and Walmart (private label products). For a complete list, go to http://www.rspo.org/en/rspo_members.
To learn more and see what you can do, watch this video http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/palm_oil/ and visit the UNLESS Campaign's website at http://unless.philadelphiazoo.org/.