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Be aware of unsustainably sourced palm oil

Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil used in most household products. The creation of it is causing the Sumatran and Bornean rainforests to diminish. This rapid habitat loss has already caused the orangutan to go from an endangered species to a critically endangered species; the orangutan is on the brink of extinction. When these oil palm plantations are created, primary rainforests are slashed burned, releasing copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These tremendous CO2 emissions are the source of 10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the palm oil industry eradicates the third largest rainforest in the world, it will inhibit our ability to filter carbon dioxide out of our own atmosphere. Although it is nearly impossible to eliminate palm oil from our daily use, we can still create change by supporting companies who practice sustainable methods in growing their palm oil, companies who grow trees on land already used instead of cutting down primary forests.

Palm oil is in:

Ice Cream Ice Cream

Palm oil makes ice cream creamy and smooth.

Pizza Pizza

Palm oil helps both frozen and fresh pizza dough enhance their texture and also from sticking together.

Shampoo Shampoo

Palm oil helps restore the natural oils in hair that are removed by most other shampoos.

Butter Butter

Palm oil is free of trans fat and is also solid at room temperature, which is great for butter.

Detergent Detergent

Palm oil is included in soaps, washing powder, shampoo, and other cleaning products.

Chocolate Chocolate

Palm oil has a high melting point so it helps keep the chocolate from melting. It also creates a smooth and shiny appearance to chocolate.

Cookies Cookies

Palm oil gives baked goods a smooth and velvety taste and texture.

Soap Soap

Palm oil has an ability to remove dirt and oil from your body as well as helps you moisturize.

and so much more...

There are many products that use palm oil that are not clearly labeled. Palm oil and its derivaties appear under many names, but they all contain palm oil.

  • Vegatable oil
  • Vegetable Fat
  • Palm Kernel
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palm Fruit Oil
  • Palmate
  • Palmitate
  • Palmolein
  • Glyceryl
  • Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Palm Stearine
  • Palmitoyl Oxostearamide
  • Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Kernelate
  • Sodium Palm Kernelate
  • Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
  • Hyrated Palm Glycerides
  • Etyl Palmitate
  • Octyl Palmitate
  • Palmityl Alcohol

Humans will not be without consequence if they continue on this trajectory of deforestation.

The rainforest regulates the quality of the planet’s air, water, and climate. This massive ecosystem is already almost gone; if it disappears, it cannot be grown back. A monoculture of oil palm trees depletes the nutrients in the soil, floods the local villages due to erosion, and eliminates all of the wild animals within it. You may not think this affects your daily life, or be any reason for concern, except for the unlucky rhinos, tigers, and orangutans, but humans will not be without consequence if we continue on this trajectory of deforestation. The rainforest works as a carbon dioxide filter for the globe. Without the rainforests, we will lose the quality of our air, water, climate, and life.

Burning to remove the rainforests is releasing copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not only removing the planet’s air filter, but the peat swamp that the tropical rainforest sits on is packed with CO2. The atmosphere holds this greenhouse gas and is changing the Earth’s climate. Burning the rainforest to grow our palm oil is not only affecting our atmosphere, it is burning the animals inside them.

Environmental Effects

  • Carbon dioxide emmisions from slash burning
  • Loss of the seed dispersers such as bats, birds, and the orangutans themselves. These three examples are heavily poached for the pet trade. Their role lies in the forest to eat fruit and disperse the seeds from their feces as they roam. Without this essential role being filled, the forest has no chance to replant itself
  • Removing the rainforest has caused problems for thousands of local villagers. Without the strong roots that the forest provides, the soil erosion has provoked deadly landslides and immense flooding where it should naturally not be a problem

119,315 orangutans remaining

It is estimated that 104,700 bornean orangutans are left on the island of Borneo and 14,615 left on the island of Sumatra. These two islands are the only two places where orangutans are naturally found. 31.6% of dry land is allocated for use of oil palm plantations. Palm oil is used in bath, food, and cleaning products globally, and it is contributing to the extinction of not just orangutans, but to every animal who shares its forest. The production of palm oil also contributes to local and global human suffering. This rapid clearing of the world's most diverse rainforests will also destroy one of the world's largest filter of carbon dioxide.

Forest disappearing gif

Indonesia and Malaysia are the only two countries in the world orangutans are found and the world has put a target on their only home. The protection of this ecosystem is not being controlled by the local government due to the amount of funds other countries are funneling into the plantations, countries like the United States. These tropical rainforest span the equator crossing South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Palm oil grows best in this type of humid lowland forest. The Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests are being used for the planting of oil palm plantations more than any other country in the world.

Palm Oil Affecting Orangutans

  • Fire: Oil palm plantations are large areas of land that have been converted from primary rainforests into rows and rows of oil palm trees. In order to clear the section of rainforest quickly, it is often slashed burned. This causes everything in the projected path to be burned alive. Fires often grow out of control and because the rainforest floor is made up of peat swamp, the fire can continue to burn underground even after rainfall. When peat swamp is burned, it releases an abundant amount of carbon dioxide as well as a suffocating haze of smoke. If the orangutans aren't killed from the fire, they will die from the smoke inhilation.
  • Human conflict: Orangutans lose a great deal of habitat due to this massive amount of land conversion. They have lost acres and acres of essential fruit trees that make up their food source. The seed that is harvested from a oil palm tree is inedible, and the orangutans will often attempted to eat from the plantation's trees. The plantation's workers view the orangutans as a pest and will protect their crop by killing the animals who "trespass."
  • Illegal Pet Trade: If an orangutan trespasses into a plantation and is accompanied by an offspring, then the mother will be murdered and the baby will be sold into the pet trade. An orangutan mother will naturally never abandon their baby and will protect its offspring to the death. When babies are rescued from the pet trade, it will always account for a lost life of the mother. Even though the pet trade is illegal, it is rampant in Borneo and Sumatra due to the extreme poverty of the locals.
  • Starvation: If the orangutans have miraculously managed to survived the fire, smoke, human conflict, and the pet trade, they will inevitably die from starvation. Their habitat is declining terribly. Their homes have reached a point of overpopulation, and the land cannot sustain to feed its inhabitants much longer.


Orangutan Population Decrease

Orangutan population have drastically decreased over the past 100 years.

Trajectory of Palm Oil Usage

The use of palm oil is predicted to
double by 2020.

Where Palm Oil Is Produced

Indonesia and Malaysia are the number one suppliers of palm oil.

How You Can Help

Not all hope is lost! There are companies who choose to avoid supporting cheap, fast growth of their palm oil. Plantations who reuse the already deforested land are growing sustainable palm oil. RSPO helps you know if you are buying a product with sustainably sourced palm oil.

  • Send letters to the companies who choose not to support rainforest friendly palm oil.
  • Send letters to sustainable companies thanking them for their choice to avoid unsustainable. This decision is not cheap for the company, and your gratitude will help them continue to do the right thing.
  • Donate directly to the Bornean and Sumatra rehabilitation centers. These places are dependent solely on charitable donations. Without people like you caring about their success, they can not help the future of the orangutans.
  • Supporting your local AZA accredited Zoo is another easy way to directly support local and global conservation.

Companies that use RSPO

Contact Us

Have questions? Feel free to contact us for more information!