You’ve probably heard of the palm oil dispute in the news recently. With increased awareness, we’ve all gotten to better understand its importance, the issues associated with it, as well as why we can’t simply stop using it. Here’s a basic rundown of both sides of the story.
The case for palm oil
As you may not know, palm oil is used in as much as 50% of all supermarket products. It functions as an essential emollient, emulsifier and even as a fuel. This diverse range of uses is what makes the ingredient so popular.
Without the ingredient, many of your favourite cosmetics and cleaning products just wouldn’t be the same. For example, lipstick would crumble into powder, conditioner wouldn’t smooth your hair the same, and dish soap wouldn’t remove grease and grime nearly half as well.
And while we could use other vegetable oils instead, palm oil is incredibly high-yielding. Using other plant sources simply wouldn’t be as environmentally friendly or economical. However, as good as this multi-use ingredient can be, there are also many downsides to it.
The case against palm oil
The growing popularity of palm oil has given rise to a booming production industry. This is fantastic for the locals since more demand means more jobs, which boosts the local economy and improves peoples’ lives. But not everyone plays by the rules. Many of the farms that grow and harvest palm trees (which is where the oil comes from) are being run illegally.
Illegal palm farms cause mass deforestation to the surrounding areas. And without following proper regulations and standards, numerous animals are displaced or killed in the harvesting process. What’s more, the grounds that the farm occupied are not allowed the care that they need to recover, leaving ‘dead zones’ in the rainforest that only add to the devastation.
So, if it is so useful, but also terrible for the environment, then what do we do? Well, there is a solution: Sustainable palm oil.
Making palm oil better for the planet
If we all pay more attention to where our products come from, we can change the supply chain. And more ethical purchases are easy to make once you know what you’re looking for. So, the next time you’re shopping for food, cosmetics or cleaning products, look for palm oil or one of its derivatives on the back of the pack (If you’re having a hard time making out what is and isn’t palm, then here’s a handy guide to all the sneaky ingredient names that companies use to conceal their palm usage).
Now that you’ve had a look for the less-than obvious derivatives in your product, check to see if it has the RSPO Trademark. This is the universal sign of sustainable palm. You can identify it by a green palm frond inside a circle of text, with the ‘RSPO’ name visible.
If your product does not contain palm oil, then that’s fine, keep on using it. Likewise, if your product actually does contain it, but bears the RSPO trademark, then great, keep on using it. But when you find that the product contains palm oil without a symbol nor mention of sustainability, then we kindly ask for you to choose a more sustainable alternative.
eclipse marketing, Chester and the Palm Oil Challenge
Why do we care about all of this? Because at eclipse marketing, we’re doing the sustainable palm oil challenge. We’re taking action to replace many of our everyday items such as hand wash, dish soap and teabags (yes, tea bags have it in!) for environmentally friendly alternatives. This is all part of the initiative from Chester Zoo to make Chester a ’Sustainable Palm Oil City’ – which they succeeded in very recently.
Businesses in Chester are being asked to step up and make the change, so we’re joining in. It would be fantastic if other companies would get on board with it, too. For more information, please visit Chester Zoo’s Palm Oil Challenge page, which also has many useful resources and toolkits.