Palm oil is the most commonly used vegetable oil in the world and mainly grows in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia as it thrives in tropical climates with an abundance of water. It is so popular as it produces up to 10 times more oil than other common oils like soya bean or sunflower. It is also in such high demand because it’s cheap, which makes it a real target for brands wanting to keep costs down and profits high.
- In order to make just one palm oil plantation, thousands of hectares of rainforest are destroyed
- In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forests have been cleared to make way for these plantations
- They require thousands of hectares as each palm oil plant requires over a 3 meter diameter of space around each plant
- As the rainforests are home to the orangutan and other endangered animals, it is posing a huge threat to their protection
- Over 80% of the orangutan habitat has been lost in the last 20 years due to the high demand of this oil
- We are loosing around 6,000 orangutans a year
- These animals are critically endangered which is primarily a result of habitat loss
- Malaysia and Indonesia make up 80-90% of the worlds palm oil
- Each hour, an area of rainforest the size of 300 football ovals is being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations
- Rainforests contribute to around 28% of the worlds oxygen, so once all the rainforests are cleared who knows where it will come from
- Even though this is happening rapidly, it isn’t really having a direct consequence to everyday life at the moment, so people aren’t concerned and are able to turn a blind eye to it
- However by the time it has become bad enough to affect daily life, the solution will be 1000 times harder
- The extreme deforestation has caused a 50% decrease in the entire orangutan population in just the last 10 years
- On top of having no home or food, they are also constantly battling bullets from palm oil workers as well as traps
- In an attempt to find shelter and food, orangutans sometimes wander into the palm oil plantations and are then likely shot
- The killing of orangutans is a common thing, however it is rare that anything is ever done about it
- Saynotopalmoil.com claim that “wildlife such as orangutans have been found buried alive and killed from machete attacks, guns and other weaponry.”
"In many cases they are seen as pests and killed, with any babies then sold as pets. The lucky ones may get confiscated and are saved by a small number of sanctuaries such as Bos Foundation who try to rehabilitate them. However, these sanctuaries are overflowing with hundreds of orangutans. In many areas here in Indonesia, these plantations have replaced forest span for as far as the eye can see, and can take hours to drive through.” Katie Halliwell, Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project
- Other animals are also left extremely vulnerable and are at risk to the same treatment as the orangutans
- These animals include the Sumatran tiger, rhinos, elephants, sun bears and monkeys
- If deforestation continues at this rate, the whole population of orangutans will be extinct within the next 25 years
- Although the palm oil plantations provide employment, the industry also takes part in child labour
- Children are forced to carry large amount of fruit and spend hours a day hunched over collecting fruit from the ground. They also receive little or no pay for their work
- Communities that once had the resources to make a living of their own have no choice now but to join plantation work for little to no pay
"Over the last 70 years, the expansion of these plantations has been devastating to the environment. Not only for species extinction but also the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when rainforests are destroyed. This overall means that we are not only negatively impacting the survival of other species, but also our own in the process.” Katie Halliwell, Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project
During the process of creating our range, it was imperative to us that no palm oil was to be used in any way. Some of the textures made weren’t exactly what we envisioned, however to create the ones people are used to would have had to include palm oil, as it is generally used to create the creamy and fluffy textures in cosmetics.
We didn’t want to be another company contributing to this mess just so people can buy the textures they’re used to. We wanted to stand by our values with no compromises.
A lot of organic cosmetic brands still use palm oil and the ones that have over 95%+ organic ingredients are often the ones that have included palm oil in their formula, as it is still natural and can get that high percentage.
There are some certifications that have come along, like RSPO, to claim that the palm oil used has been sustainably grown and harvested, however these are generally just as bad as they still require deforestation and are still contributing to habitat loss. The rules and guidelines for these certifications are also usually not met.
According to onegreenplanet.org, just 35% of palm growers who state they're members of the RSPO “are actually certified.” The other 65% pay to be members “but have taken no action to adhere to the RSPO guidelines in their growing practises.”
The brands that state that they only use sustainable palm oil or that they only use it where necessary, are still nevertheless using it and contributing to this.
Sometimes we think that any organic product has to be good because it’s ‘organic’, but in truth they could still be using ingredients like this which really defeats the whole point of creating an organic brand. Organic to us means the whole approach to business, not just putting a label on it so people will think it’s the better option.
In addition to being strictly palm oil free, we’re also trying to do other things to help the cause like adopting our own orangutan in Borneo. We’re also in the process of registering for Forest Protection and adopting other animals like the Sumatran Tiger.
I’ll put some links below for you to check it out!
Image via @sandylamu