"...most of the damage we cause to the planet is the result of our own ignorance. – Yvon Chouinard"
As I made my way into the industry of making natural products, I had to start looking carefully at all of the oils and ingredients available out there. The one that I saw most consistently used in smaller brands was palm oil. After doing some research I was pretty shaken up by the news that I found. I feel that it is important that we are all aware of what this industry is doing to the world and how we can help.
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a very versatile, high-yield vegetable oil that is used in many products we consume. About half of everything in an average grocery store in America contains a version of palm oil. It is produced from a palm tree's (Elaeis guineensis) fruit. This ancient West African Palm tree is creating the worlds most popular vegetable oil. Different types of palm oil are produced depending on which part of the fruit is pressed. Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the crops. Palm oil can be dated back to 5,000 years ago in an Egyptian tomb. In the centuries following, it was used as medicine and food.
Sounds great! So what's the problem?
Unfortunately this plant has created a lot of controversy over the years. The production process is very harmful to the environment. It has been one of the major causes for deforestation and species extinction. Clearing land for plantations involves burning the rainforest. This creates 100 times more green house gases than the average forest fire. Other issues include human rights. This includes child labor, debt bondage, human trafficking and poor working conditions.
What steps are being taken to solve the problem?
The biggest problems lie within how they are producing the product. There are estimates that say that 90 percent of Malaysia and Indonesia's rain forest will be replaced with palm farms unless we can do something to change the system. The Palm Oil Innovation Group was created as an initiative from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2013. Their vision is to create "a responsible supply chain that has broken the link between palm oil production and the destruction of forests and peatlands, the exploitation of communities and workers, and climate change."
How can we help ?
1. Inform yourself more. Knowledge is power
2. Talk about what you've learned with friends and family
3. Put your money where your mouth is and avoid palm oil when possible. I have provided a list of other names it goes by below.
- Vegetable Oil
- Vegetable Fat
- Palm Fruit Oil
- Stearic Acid
- Sodium Kernelate
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Sodium Laurieth Sulfate
- Palmityl Alcohol
4. If you have to use it, buy products that are only made with sustainable palm oil.
5. Get involved.
The Flowered Life is committed to not using Palm Oil in any of it's products. Lets gather together in our communities to share this information. The more we share, the more we will be able to make a difference in how this product is being produced and manufactured.