Palm is the most commonly used vegetable oil, it is in most food products and mixed with motor vehicle products. I have found that it’s really difficult to find any food products that don’t have palm oil in them. As an ethical eater I try to avoid food that uses palm oil because of the impact it has on the environment and animals.
Palm Oil is cultivated in tropical places such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Vast areas of forest are destroyed to make room for more palm oil plantations everyday.
When forests are bulldozed and torched large amounts of harmful gasses are released into the atmosphere.
The fires also affect the health of workers and people who live in the surrounding areas.
Tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans are threatened by Palm Oil production. Endangered species habitat’s are destroyed for the purpose of Palm Oil and they “are squeezed into increasingly isolated fragments of natural habitat.”
Pail Oil forests have the least amount of biodiversity at 11 species compared with 80 species in a primary forest.
All animals are affected when poison is used to eliminate rats.
Deforestation for the purpose of Palm Oil displaces communities who aren’t recognised by the government when the land is handed over to companies. People are pushed out of their land which often creates friction within communities and against companies.
Farmers who are pushed out of their land then have to clear forests to set up a new farm. New farm land is often very far from towns which restricts access to markets and health and well being services.
Labour rights- taken from SPOTT
- Workers often live in poor conditions without access to basic facilities such as clean water and lighting, and are isolated by a lack of social support and cultural barriers.
- Some oil palm plantations are dependent on imported labour or undocumented immigrants.
- Trafficking cases have been identified in Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm plantations. Workers often have their passports and other official documents confiscated and are not given proper contracts. They can face abusive conditions and can be threatened with deportation or confiscation of wages.
- Child labour is a common problem in Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm plantations. Children receive little or no pay and may be forced to endure harsh working conditions including long hours and exposure to toxic chemicals. This can be driven by poor education, a lack of school facilities and a generally low regard for education in rural areas.
- In Malaysia, it is estimated that between 72,000 and 200,000 stateless children work on palm oil plantations.
“Reports of displaced communities and illegal land grabs are not uncommon. The resulting conflicts, loss of income and dependence on large plantations have had a significant impact of the social welfare of many.”
Can things improve?
Greenpeace supporters campaigned for many years and put pressure on big brands to stop using Palm Oil company until it changed it’s practices. IOI, the worlds third largest Palm Oil company, has now put together an action plan agreed to independent third-party verification of its progress in one year’s time. This came after a suspension from “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) following a complaint by environmental organisation Aidenvironment, which meant it could no longer call any of its palm oil ‘sustainable’”
Unilever and Nestle have stopped buying from IOI and refuse to buy from IOI after the suspension from RSPO has been lifted.
“One of the most important points is that IOI will be actively monitoring its suppliers to ensure they too are safeguarding forests and people. Any company selling palm oil to IOI will need to prove it is protecting forests, so the impacts should spread far beyond IOI’s own operations.”
Here is a list of things you can do taken from rainforest rescue:
- Enjoy a home-cooked meal using fresh ingredients and oils such as sunflower, olive, rapeseed or flaxseed are ideal for cooking and baking.
- Read labels: As of December 2014, labeling regulations in the EU require food products to clearly indicate that they contain palm oil. However, in the case of non-food items such as cosmetics and cleaning products, a wide range of chemical names may still be used to hide the use of palm oil. A quick check of your favorite search engine will turn up palm oil-free alternatives, however.
- Ask your retailers for palm oil-free products. Write product manufacturers and ask them why they aren’t using domestic oils.
- Sign petitions and write your elected representatives: Online campaigns put pressure on policymakers responsible for biofuels and palm oil imports. Have you already signed all of Rainforest Rescue’s petitions?
- Leave your car at home: Whenever you can, walk, ride a bicycle or use public transport.
Ethical Consumer have put together a list of products that contain no palm oil or sustainably produced palm oil. I’m going to focus on the chocolate list because that’s my vice!!! But have a look at the rest of the list for more products.
Other Palm oil-free boxes of chocolates:
- Vivani (organic): all gift chocolate (mini bars gift tins)
- Co-op: 24 Assorted Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Coins, Truly Irresistible Milk Chocolate Truffles gift cube, Truly Irresistible Mint Selection, Loved By Us Belgian Chocolate Pralines, Loved By Us Irish Cream Liqueurs
- Mondelez: Terry’s Chocolate Orange Plain, Toblerone (all varieties)
- Guylian: Seashells, Dark Chocolate Sea Horses, Pearles d’Ocean tin
- Lindt: HELLO Milk chocolate heart tin
Best company rating for palm oil:
- Booja Booja (organic, palm oil free company),
- Divine (Fairtrade, palm oil free company),
- Cocoa Loco (organic),
- Montezuma (organic),
- Vivani (organic),
- Ferrero Rocher, Raffaello,
- Mondelez brands (Green & Black’s Organic Collection, Milk Tray, Roses, Heroes, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Terry’s All Gold, Toblerone),
- Mars brands (Celebrations),
- Lindt: Lindor, Lindt
Worst company rating for palm oil:
- Elizabeth Shaw,
FAIR FAVOURITES- Ethical Collection
OK these guys have such a beautiful collection. I want everything!
“Giovanna Eastwood founded Ethical Collection in 2015, encouraged by the work of her mother’s charity in Brazil. The charity taught young women to craft and sell bags made of recycled material and Giovanna witnessed the impact that the work had on these women and their communities. The pride they took in their art and the environmental benefits of recycled material gave her inspiration and incentive to dedicate her skills to ethical fashion.”
Sources and further reading