When I hear palm oil, I immediately think how much I love palm trees and secretly wish they could grow here in the Northeast. However, there is a lot about palm oil I didn’t know until recently, including how many of our daily products it’s found in, and what the palm oil plantations are doing to the rainforests and the species which live there.
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is an edible plant oil which is now found in many of your consumer products. It is in processed foods, candles, your shower essentials, adding up to around 50% of products you typically use every day, as it is one of the cheaper vegetable oils to manufacture and easily found in 90% of these products. Which if you think about it, I’m not sure if I want to be eating something that is also found in my make up. Gross.
Palm oil is high in saturated fats, which none of us want to consume, and is relatively unhealthy similar to other vegetable oils as well. Also, when you eat something with palm oil, you are eating something which can be converted into being used for biofuels, which sounds kinda sketchy to me, you’re eating something that can also be an ingredient in fuel, basically so far I’m not a fan, are we sure it’s truly edible?
Many times, you might not even realize your products contain palm oil, because many producers hide it in the ingredients’ label under vegetable oils and fats, as if we already don’t have a hard time deciphering our nutrition labels. Sometimes it might also be under a scientific name, such as cetyl or stearate, like we are going to know what that is or have the energy to look it up.
Why You Should Care
In order to grow, palm oil needs a rainforest like climate, where there are consistently high temperatures. Because palm oil needs this type of climate, it is mostly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia but can also be found throughout South Asia, Africa and Latin America. The palm oil plantations are currently the major reason for rainforest destruction in these countries. In a study conducted, it was predicted that the rainforests in Indonesia would disappear because of the palm oil plantations by 2022. To paint a picture for you guys, imagine 300 soccer fields being destroyed every hour, that is currently the size of rainforests that are being destroyed due to the production of palm oil.
When they are clearing and preparing the land for the plantations, not only are trees cut down and burned, but also the tropical deforestation is currently responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, making it also a contributor to global warming, as well as causing water contamination and soil pollution through their deforestation actions.
Ever want to see an Orangutan? Or maybe Sumatran tigers or Bornean rhinos? You might never get the chance if these palm oil plantations keep destroying their homes. These endangered species are being deprived of their homes and their basic needs in the rainforest climates. The worst part, some of these animals, mostly Orangutans aren’t only being pushed out of their homes, but they are also being physically abused by the plantation workers. There is now a risk that these cute orange fluffy animals won’t be around after 2020.
It’s hard to avoid palm oil since it’s found in so much, but next time you are comparing products see if you can figure out which to buy so you can avoid palm oil. Here’s a list to help you find products that don’t contain palm oil at all. For those who feel as strongly as I do about this issue, start boycotting palm oil products all together or contact your political representatives to fight for nutritional labels that don’t hide palm oil as an ingredients. If we don’t start taking these actions and spreading awareness of this major issue to our rainforests, we are aiding to the depletion of not only rainforests, but of the cuddly and awesome species that live there.