Jan 28, 2014

What you need to know

By Rebecca Dmytryk

For years, I've heard things about palm oil and how its production could eventually wipe out the orangutans... just another atrocity in my 'save the planet' world. 

Oh, the images, and the stories or tribes of these critically endangered great apes being burned alive - it's just too much!

Emotional overload. You just have to turn away sometimes... right?

You have to pick your battles, right? 

Well, this week, I happened across an image circulating the media, and it triggered my fight response - "This just has got to stop!"

As difficult and painful as it might be, really, we have to not turn away...

So, I know you're busy, but I know you care.

I am going to simplify this issue for you - tell you what you need to know, and then it's up to you to decide what to do with this information,... but you need to know.

Here we go... 

If we do not stop consuming palm oil, wild orangutans will become extinct. At the rate their rainforest habitat is being destroyed, some say they could be gone in 3, maybe 12 years.

Gone. Wiped out. Never again to grace the forests of Earth.

Why? Because of palm oil.

Orangutans are only found on Sumatra and Borneo.
Image from http://www.orangutan.com/orangutans/orangutan-facts/

Almost all palm oil (from palm trees) is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia - on the islands Borneo and Sumatra - home of the remaining orangutans. 

Although there are alternatives to palm oil, it is relatively cheap, so it's popular with manufacturers.

Palm oil is in practically everything - it's in every grocery isleeven more so, now, with the shift away from trans-fats.

It's in cookies, snacks, crackers, chocolate and candies, chips, and ice cream. It's in soaps, and lotions, cosmetics, and toothpaste. Palm oil is also used in "eco-friendly" biofuel - required at a higher percentage in some countries. 

To meet the world's demand, tens of millions of acres of rainforest have been destroyed, and the clearing continues - at an alarming rate of about 6 football fields every a minute.

The ancient trees are cut, the forest is set ablaze, and the soil is turned and leveled to make way for a palm tree plantation.

In the process, orangutans are mercilessly injured or killed. A few lucky ones are rescued.

All, because of our appetite for palm oil.

No? You don't want to contribute to the killings and the eventual extinction of the orangutan?


Here is what you must to do:

From now on, when you're purchasing a product, take a look at the ingredients. If the ingredients list anything with PALM in it - palm oil, palm kernel, palmate, palmitate, palmolein, palmitoyl. Don't buy it. 

Look deeper - palm oil and its byproducts can also go under these names: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Oxostearamide, Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium (Palm) Kernelate.

Here's a link to a page that will help you identify products that contain palm oil.

Do it!

Send your message. http://inyourpalm.org/
I did. 

Yesterday, I went into our kitchen, into the fridge and the cabinets... We shop mostly at New Leaf markets, so, I am happy to report only a few items contained palm oil - the Silk soy creamers, Rice Dream, and some Trader Joe's snicky-snacks (for the horse).

Remember, even if you're buying "fair trade", organic, vegan, gluten free, you still need to check the label. 

Just do it.

The manufacturers ARE listening!

Want to do more? Raise your palm!

Join thousands in the Last Stand of the Orangutan, by Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Take the pledge and submit your pic, HERE.

Let me leave you with some good news: 

A couple of weeks ago, an Indonesian court found a palm oil company guilty of illegally destroying critical orangutan habitat. The company was fined $30 million. Read more about this tremendous victory, HERE.

More, you say?

If you're in to indie films and documentaries, you might be interested in watching this one: Green.

Lastly, if you want to view the image that caught my attention, scroll down.

If you do not want to be party to this, then 
stop buying products that contain palm oil!