How palm oil is destroying the rainforests

It’s time to make a more ethical choice

Palm oil is everywhere. Take a look at the ingredients of foods in your kitchen and you could find it in bread, biscuits, crisps, margarine, olive oil spreads, cooking oil and chocolate. Some cleaning liquids contain it too as do several beauty items such as shampoo and make-up. It’s in nearly half of all packaged products in supermarkets.

Palm oil comes at a devastating cost for the environment. Its production burns and clears rainforests at an alarming rate, which endangers wildlife. The destruction of 80% of the orangutan’s tropical habitat has led to them facing extinction.

The burning of rainforests and peat bogs, which store high amounts of carbon dioxide, also has a detrimental effect on the environment because vast quantities of carbon dioxide is released into the air.

It is possible to buy sustainable palm oil and it’s best to choose ones that are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The WWF provides a guide to how well brands have adapted this policy. In 2019, 19% of palm oil was certified sustainable by the RSPO.

However, there are concerns that even sustainable palm oil is not fully traceable yet, so some choose to avoid products containing palm oil altogether.

You can go palm oil free by checking the ingredients but sometimes it’s listed under a different name, so look out for palm kernel oil, glyceryl and stereate. The Orangutan Foundation has a list of the many derivative names for palm oil.

Iceland’s own-brand range is palm oil free as are products by Yeo Valley, Divine and Rude Health. Most of Biona‘s products are free from palm oil while the rest use sustainable palm oil. Online supermarkets Ocado and VeganKind have palm oil free categories on their websites.

Palm oil is an efficient crop that requires less land than other vegetable oils, so it could be a better choice if all palm oils were truly sustainable. Whether you choose sustainable palm oil or palm oil free, you can help by putting pressure on companies to source sutainable palm oil that is fully traceable at every step.



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