The Truth About Palm Oil

Jul 13th 2015

     Did you know that most likely you are consuming and using products with palm oil in them every day? Why should you even be concerned about buying and using products with palm oil? What is the alternative and is there a solution to this global issue that affects us all more than we realize? This is a very complicated topic that I am going to try to simplify so that you can make a conscious decision for yourself with the facts…

     Indonesia’s rainforests are one of earth’s most biologically and culturally rich landscapes. Incredibly, with just one percent of the Earth’s land area, Indonesia’s rainforests contain 10 percent of the world’s known plants, 12 percent of mammals and 17 percent of all known bird species, as well as the only wild populations of orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Sumatran rhinoceros, all of which are critically endangered.

     Indonesia & Malaysia supply the world with over 90% of its palm oil. The demand for palm oil increases every day since it is in over half of the foods at supermarkets, soaps and beauty products, cooking oils and more. Every hour a rainforest the size of 300 soccer fields is being destroyed for the use of palm production. Other impacts include soil erosion, air pollution, soil and water pollution and climate change. Not only is Palm oil full of saturated fats and unhealthy for you, you are most likely eating or rinsing down the drain a piece of the rainforest and climate every day.

     The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 to promote the use of sustainable palm oil through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. It is a voluntary association, consisting of palm oil producers, processors and traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors as well as some environmental and social organizations. RSPO members account for around 40% of global palm oil production. The RSPO wants its members to be industry leaders in sustainability. However, its current standards leave its members free to destroy forests.

     Many products that use palm oil aren't clearly labeled. Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names, including: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearin, Palmitoyl Oxo Stearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Cetyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol.

     Products that often contain palm oil (Always check ingredients!): Lipstick, pizza dough, instant noodles, shampoo, ice cream, detergent, margarine, chocolate, cookies, crackers, biodiesel, soap and packaged bread.

     Aside from not using products with palm oil, we must make a stand if we are going to make a difference. We can do this by signing petitions, making donations, contributing our time and efforts and pushing for real standards on sustainable palm oil.

Here are links where you can find out what products contain palm oil:

Here are some ideas to get involved: