Sustainable Palm Oil

Orangutans discussing how excessive palm oil plantations have destroyed their home

For a week avoid products containing palm oil from unsustainable sources.

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More About This Challenge

Dedicate extra time to checking product labels this week to make sure you avoid items with palm oil from unsustainable sources.

Remember, not all products with palm oil are bad. Products where the palm oil comes from sustainable sources do not count in this challenge.
Palm oil can be found in a surprising amount of everyday items, so this one isn't going to be easy. These are usually packaged products from foods to cosmetics. A common estimate used is up to 50% of the packaged goods you buy.

Not only that, but many times it's not clearly labelled and those sneaky companies will use other names for it. Some examples are PKO (Palm Kernel Oil), PHPKO (Partially Hydrogenated Palm Oil), Palmitate, Palmate and the list goes on. To make matters more confusing, in some cases these may not come from palm oil.

As always, the challenge is forgiving and if you find out you've been duped later, don't worry about it too much and be ready next time.

When taking on this challenge remember you don't have to give up all products using palm oil. Palm oil can be produced sustainably and is what puts food on the table for some hard working ethical farmers.

How do you know you've got the good kind of palm oil? Look out for RSPO certified products that have the label shown below.

The RSPO certified sustainable palm oil label

What Makes Palm Oil So Bad?

Palm oil is a pretty versatile vegetable oil and as we've mentioned is used in quite a bit of stuff.

It comes from the fruit of oil palm trees which grow in tropical rainforests. Crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil comes from crushing the kernel or the stone in the middle of the fruit.

Compared to other crops per hectare, palm oil produces a much higher yield so is also an incredibly efficient crop. Sounds pretty good, right?

The problem is how land is cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Uncontrolled clearing of forests has led to widespread loss of irreplaceable environments once rich in biodiversity.

Plantations have been connected to the destruction of habitat of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and many other adorable/cute/pretty damn cool animals.

None of that is very good, so it's important we start supporting suppliers who take care with how and where they grow that sweet sweet palm oil.

More Information

For more facts on palm oil and tips on buying products that obtain it from sustainable sources we've pulled together some more material for you to peruse through if you would like to learn more about palm oil and its sustainable sources.

RSPO have piles of information on their website too, so head there too for some really good information on the topic.
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