Palm oil is destroying the planet – what you need to know to help
Chances are, by now you’ve heard a lot about palm oil.
But, according to Palm Oil Consumer Action (POCA), most Americans don’t even know what it is – nor that is has a catastrophic impact on humans, animals, and the planet!
So, why is palm oil so bad? And what can you do to help reduce its negative impact?
Read on to find out.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, which can be found in about half of all packaged American products sold in supermarkets – including food, cosmetics, toiletries, and candles.
It is grown in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America – but around 90% of the world’s palm oil trees are grown in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Why is palm oil bad?
Palm oil isn’t just bad. Its production has catastrophic consequences.
It violates human rights
Palm oil production is one of the leading causes of human conflict in Indonesia.
In 2011, Wilmar (one of the largest producers of palm oil) used bulldozers and guns to destroy 40 homes to clear 40,000 hectares of land for palm oil production. And this isn’t just a one-off incident.
On top of that, palm oil plantation laborers have no choice but to work in appalling conditions – and child labor is not unusual.
It destroys rainforests
Palm oil is the world’s biggest destructor of tropical rainforests – up to 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour to grow oil palms!
The clearing of one hectare of converted land releases staggering amounts (174 tons!) of carbon dioxide, making palm oil production a massive contributor to deforestation, and climate change.
It is responsible for wiping out endangered species
It drives endangered species – such as incredibly intelligent and gentle orangutans – to the brink of extinction. In Indonesia, palm oil production kills over 6,000 orangutans in a year – and almost 80 percent of orangutan habitat has disappeared over the last 20 years.
So, what can YOU do?
As a consumer, you can help stop the unethical production of palm oil. Here are a few things you can do right now:
Say no to palm oil
Even though palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet, you can find products that don’t contain it. Look for products that have been produced using any of the other oils, such as 100 percent sunflower oil, coconut oil, corn oil, olive oil, or canola oil.
Here are some resources that will help you avoid palm oil:
Sign a petition to show that you care
There are many petitions you can sign to contribute to the prevention of further destruction palm oil is causing. Here are a few you can sign right now:
Donate to an organization that works to protect orangutans, and end deforestation.
Here is a list of outstanding organizations working to save endangered orangutans – as well as companies fighting to end deforestation by OneGreenPlanet.
Want to do more to help the planet and animals? Check out these posts:
- The scary truth about animals as entertainment
- 5 surprising animals that are at risk of disappearing
- 3 simple things you can do to help save the planet