How Palm Oil Damages the Environment and Why You Should Care

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It can be a bit fatiguing, to learn about everything we do and use on a daily basis that harms the environment. It’s a lot – sometimes it can seem like there’s nothing we can keep if we want to be responsible global citizens.

There are plenty of alternatives, though, and some problems are too big to ignore, and there are a few arguments that palm oil is one of them.

There are all kinds of vegetable oils available at the store – olive (which I guess is actually a fruit), vegetable oil, canola oil, palm oil – as well as oils from seeds.

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Palm oil isn’t as popular as a cooking oil as the others, but with its high saturated fat content, and it’s complete lack of trans fats, make it popular with food manufacturers, according to a Guardian report.

“In the 1960s, scientists began to warn that butter’s high saturated fat content may increase the risk of heart disease. Food manufacturers, including the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, began to replace it with margarine, made with vegetable oils low in saturated fat.”

Oil palm trees are prevalent in Southeast Asia, where they were transplanted from their native West Africa in the mid-19th century.

Now, the region exports over 75% of the world’s palm oil, which is used in thousands of packaged foods and by big-name brands like Luna, Pepperidge Farm, Little Debbie, McDonald’s, and Quaker. Two-thirds of all palm oil goes into food.

Manufacturers like it because it gives foods like chocolate, cookies, and ice cream a smooth, creamy texture – there’s a good chance it’s also lurking in your sliced bread.

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Artificial beauty 🌴✨ . Palm forests held the most symmetric layout I’ve ever seen in nature, except, it wasn’t natural. These vast acres were created by cutting down the forest to create palm oil farms. There’s nothing natural about what we saw, rather, just another example of exploiting the environment and developing countries. Best way to help stop these farms from continual expansion? Be a conscious consumer and reduce your palm oil use. . Survive and Thrive my Friends 🤘🏻 . . . #keepitwild #seekthetrails #wanderlust #adventureculture #passionpassport #artofvisuals #lensbible #uniladadventure #wildernessnation #roadtrip #earthofficial #moodygrams #beautifuldestinations #earthfocus #costarica #instagood10k #palmoilfree #roadtriplife #agameof10k #natgeoyourshot #thisweekoninstagram #earthoutdoors #earthoutdoors10k #yourshotphotographer #ontheroadagain #whplookup #main_vision #palmoil #depthobsessed @sonyalpha @stayandwander @artofvisuals

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You’ll also find it in soaps and lipsticks, says The Guardian.

“Unlike other oils, it can be easily  and inexpensively ‘fractionated’ – separated into oils of different consistencies – which disposes it to multiple uses.”

The fact that it holds color, it doesn’t melt at high temperatures, and is completely tasteless doesn’t hurt, either.

It’s easy to see why businesses and consumers love palm oil, but according to the World Wildlife Fund, there are far more reasons to cut way back on its production and use.

“Palm oil grows in tropical rainforests, and the uncontrolled clearing of these forests for conventional palm oil plantations has led to widespread loss of these irreplaceable and biodiverse-rich forests.”

Between the years of 1990 and 2008, palm oil production was responsible for 8% of the world’s deforestation.

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HOW YOU CAN AID WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FROM YOUR HOME: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ♥️ Be conscious of what you buy! This applies to food, fashion, beauty, physical products and more. Are they contributing to deforestation, death, pollution etc? (Make sure you think about Indigenous communities and local people too) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🦧 Avoid unsustainable Palm Oil (I have an entire blog post on this – link in my bio)! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🌼 Plant native flowers, trees and shrubbery in your backyard to help wildlife and bees thrive! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💧On hot days, put out a shallow water dish (in a safe place) for thirsty wildlife to access. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🦆 Be cautious of what you feed birdlife — human foods can harm their stomachs and encourage bad behavior. Avoid it all together if not necessary, and DO NOT feed other animals either! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💵 Donate to genuine organizations and programs that are working to save lives, protect endangered species and aid in intersectional conservation (if you have the ability to). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ♻️ Pick up trash! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⌨️ Email companies and encourage them to reconsider any harmful practices. Sign petitions, contact government officials and get loud for our furry, feathered, scaly friends who don’t share our voice. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📞 Keep a contact list of local wildlife rescuers/carers so that you can quickly contact them if you see an animal in need. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🧠 Educate yourself on any issues surrounding your local wildlife and how you might be able to help. Knowledge is power! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There are so many more, but this is already super long. Maybe a blog post is in order… 🐝🐸🦊🦘🐙🐛🐨

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Palm oil plantations also steal habitat from many endangered species, like Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinos, and orangutans. The tigers, in particular, have dwindled to just 400 animals in the wild.

In 2003, the World Wildlife fund established a group called the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” with the goal of encouraging the industry to work together to find ways to stop the production from damaging important ecosystems. The European Union joined the fight in 2013, changing their labeling laws so that concerned consumers can easily choose products that don’t contain palm oil.

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How to identify palm oil in the products you buy? . Palm oil can be found in nearly 50% of the packaged goods we eat from cookies, peanut butter, breakfast cereal to cleaning products, laundry detergent, lipstick, and body lotion. . However, you won't always find the words "palm oil" in the ingredients. Palm oil or its derivatives can be hidden under many different terms. . To make things even more confusing, ingredients like “vegetable oil,” are likely to contain palm oil, although it's not always the case. . Why is it important to avoid palm oil? . Palm oil is NOT bad in itself, but because it is used in so many products, the demand is huge and it drives deforestation because huge areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems are being stripped to plant palms. . Avoid products with palm oil. There are plenty of other options, or look for sustainably grown palm oil through labels like RSPO. . For more ideas on how to be more eco-friendly, visit our profile and find hundreds of easy eco tips🌿🌿 . . . #easyecotips #recycled #tips #ecofriendly #ecotips #greentips #ecology #savetheplanet #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #zerowastelifestyle #zerowastelife #greenliving #sustainableliving #climatechange #globalwarming #reuse #reducereuserecycle #zerowastetips #savetheplanet #savethebees #savetheearth #ecofriendlyproducts #ecofriendlyliving #environment #environmentallyfriendly #food #palmoilfree #palmoil #foodporn #deforestation

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If you’re moved to do the same, there are consumer sites like Products Without Palm Oil that can help you make good choices on the products you buy, from food and coffee to personal are items. There are plenty of companies who make delicious products without using palm oil, thank goodness, and I was personally most relieved to see Ben & Jerry’s on that list.

A world without Half Baked is not a world I want to see, although I suppose I could have done it for the tigers.

Carole Baskin would be so proud.