Palm oil is one of those products that mainly pass by without you knowing it, even though it is included in a vast range of products that most people use every day. Many people do not know that it is also a large contributor to the alarming rate of deforestation of the already ailing rainforests that remain throughout Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and the likes. In many of these communities where these plantations are established small children are forced to do physical labour for long hours in horrific conditions. The big corporations funding these expeditions also lie, cheat and steal their way onto ground that belongs to the indigenous people with their empty promises of development and a better life for all. Many families are dumped into extreme poverty because they can no longer sustain themselves from their own land is forced to become plantation workers, not even earning enough to provide the basics for their families.
With deforestation also comes the endangerment of over 300 000 species of different animals, insects and plants across many ecosystems. Orang-utans are one example of a species that could be extinct in 10 years if their numbers continue to decrease at the currents rate. This endangerment is not only due to their habitat that is shrinking each day, but by the increase in poaching and black market trading of rare species that these foreigners bring with them.
Not to confuse coconut oil with palm oil. Palm oil can generally be found in products such as shampoo, lipstick, instant noodles, ice cream, margarine, detergents, and alarmingly, biofuels. It is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world at the moment, contributing about half of the vegetable oil used in America, Australia and England, and its use is expected to double by 2050.
The ripple effect of deforestation, poverty and endangerment that is left in its wake cannot be ignored any longer. There may be hope, it was estimated that about 18% of the world’s palm oil was certified as sustainable in 2014, even though there has been widespread controversy around this topic. The fact is that oil palm trees are capable of yielding more oil from less land than any other vegetable oil, if it is controlled and regulated properly.
Ever heard of the Tiger Challenge? Companies that have agreed to make use of sustainable sources of palm oil, which is tiger and forest friendly are;
- Procter & Gamble
- General Mills
- Johnson & Johnsons
- Mondelēz International
- Nice Group
- Reckitt Benckiser
Think twice before you purchase a product, make sure you know where they get their resources from, and that you are not unknowingly contributing to the destruction of our precious rainforests. Make informed decisions.
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