I truly try to live a ‘green’ life. It’s not always easy but I try. But reading the labels on EVERYTHING you buy – well, it’s a bit of a nightmare really, isn’t it?!
I recently read an article in National Geographic about Palm Oil and its effects on our diminishing forests & wildlife. And ever since, I’ve been wanting to write about it & try to put it all into some sort of balance.
Palm Oil has become a mainstay of every industry, mainly because it is cheap to produce, stable in processing, and has a long shelf life. Palm oil is the most used vegetable oil in the world, remarkably versatile and used in everything from snack food and shampoo to bio fuel. ( In 2017 51% of the EU’s palm oil consumption was to power cars & trucks) It is so prevalent that it can be found in about half of all packaged items found in the supermarkets.
Photograph courtesy of Dawn Armfield on Unsplash
It is known by many different names:
Hydrogenated palm glycerides Octyl palmitate
Palm fruit oil
Palm kernel oil
Sodium laureth sulfate (often found in shampoos, soaps & bubble baths)
Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium palm kernelate
I mean, just HOW do you remember all of these when you’re checking labels, for goodness sake?!
And, the list of products it is used in is, well, LONG:
- Industrial Frying oils
- Confectioneries, cookie filling
- Emulsifiers; margarine, low-fat spreads, cakes, ice cream, bread
- Dry soup & cake mixes
- Nutritional supplements
- Bio Fuel
- Snack foods, cooking oil
- Pizza dough
- Soap, shampoo
- Infant formula
- Detergents, cosmetics
- Animal feed
- Non-dairy creamers
- Chocolate coatings
- Humectants, explosives
Photo courtesy of David Clode on Unsplash
Sadly our seemingly insatiable appetite for Palm Oil is causing the destruction of many wildlife habitats. Areas of Borneo & Sumatra have already been logged extensively to make way for oil palm plantations.
One way we can help is to make sure that everything we purchase contains only certified sustainable palm oil with the RSPO logo on. The RSPO currently certifies roughly one fifth of the global supply.
Many household names rely heavily on palm oil: Unilever, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble.
These companies have pledged to switch their supply chains to certified palm oil ‘over the next few years’. Sounds great – BUT, it’s not enough. We need it to happen faster & we need all Governments on board too.
Photo courtesy of Ruqayyah Sheriff on Unsplash
There is some hope though: In Sabah, Borneo a group of scientists, activists, RSPO members AND Government officials are aiming to convert 5% of the biggest plantations on Borneo back to forest for orangutans. More than 100,000 trees of 38 species have been planted over the past decade in an attempt to preserve a corridor for wildlife along the river.
The other problem, of course, is that whatever we try to replace palm oil with will ultimately cause similar problems, but without being as versatile or fast-growing.
So, I have taken a personal decision that I will continue to avoid using palm oil (even certified sustainable) in any of my Skinkiss products.
On a personal level I will also avoid it (as long as I can remember all its names!) in everything I buy.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this & maybe learnt a little about the palm oil industry.
If you got this far – Congratulations & Thank you.
Love & light