By Holly Royce
Avoiding palm oil is a key example of how our power as consumers can help us to fight against dangerous climate change.
Going palm oil free can be an intimidating task, it means a lot of research and a lot of label reading.
There will be times when you require a product straight away and are unable to obtain or find a product that is completely palm oil free. If this is the case – an alternative to consider is CSPO or certified sustainable palm oil. However – Just because a product claims to use sustainable palm oil, it doesn’t mean the palm oil is sustainable. It comes down to knowing your brands and doing your research.
It is a commitment, and here is why it’s such an important one.
What is palm oil?
Palm Oil is used as a vegetable oil in around 50% of food.
Palm Oil and derivatives of the oil are used in the manufacture of cosmetics, beauty care, cleaning products, hair care, soaps and personal care items. Palm Wax is used in the manufacture of many candles. Palm Oil is also used in Bio Fuel and has become what is called the Green Fuel option for motor vehicles, shipping and recent testing for aircraft fuel. Currently in 2013, over 87% of world production of Palm Oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. Worldwide supply is now estimated to be around 50,000,000 tons per annum.
Growing research suggests palm oil is doing more harm than good. Thanks to One Green Planet for these facts.
Oil palms, originally from West Africa and South America, thrive in the tropics. Its introduction into Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia, is a main drive of deforestation in those countries. Indonesia, the largest producer of palm oil, made headlines when they were published in the 2008 Guinness World Records for the “Fastest Forest Destroyer”.
2. Loss of Biodiversity
Other endangered species, including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino, and the pygmy elephant of Borneo, are at risk in their natural habitat. Rainforests are species-rich environments with nearly 80 mammal species found in Malaysia’s rainforests alone. However, because of forest clearings, that number has dwindled down to 11 to 12 mammal species in the area of oil palm plantations.
3. Displacing Indigenous People
Oil palm companies have acquired lands from indigenous peoples without compensation and, sometimes, without consultation. The companies often use violent and misleading tactics to take land from local communities with the illegal cooperation of authorities. The dramatic loss of forest, land, hunting grounds, animals, and water deprive these people of their traditional lifestyle.
4. Carbon Emissions
Peat forests, swampy forest areas, are massive casualties in palm oil expansion. Clearing and draining peat forests for agriculture converts the peat forests into sources of greenhouse gas emissions. When peat soil is drained of its water, the stored carbon underneath the soil is exposed to air and produces carbon dioxide. Thus, emitting huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
5. Palm Oil Everywhere
Palm oil is in roughly 50 percent of pre-packaged products sold in stores. In fact, palm oil may be hidden in your pantry and cabinets right now. Companies substitute trans fat for palm oil because it’s cheaper. Plus, they can market the product as “trans fat-free.” However, palm oil isn’t exactly “healthy” because of its high saturated fat content, so it’s just a shady business practice.
We truly can make a difference through every dollar we spend, and putting in the effort to go palm oil free is another way we can work together to combat dangerous climate change.
Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au