Most of you probably use palm oil, whether you are aware of it or not. It is used in chips and other baked goods, oils for cooking and even shampoos and cleaning products. In fact, it is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. Some of you might be wondering why you should start avoiding it, right? The reason is that it is contributing to the death of thousands of orangutans and other animals living in the forests.
First things first, palm oil comes from a palm fruit grown on an African oil palm tree. It is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America and South America. The industry dealing with palm oil is not sustainable, which means it is responsible for deforestation, degradation, climate change and animal cruelty.
An area of forest equal to 300 soccer fields is beings destroyed every hour for the purpose of growing oil palms
Orangutans live on these Indonesian islands and the palm oil industry is one of the main contributors to the dramatic reduction of orangutan populations. Orangutans live in areas with fertile lowland soils, close to rivers and therefore their habitat is seen as ideal for growing the oil palm.
The most critical area is in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra where numerous animals are injured, killed and displaced. This area is known to be the home of over 300,000 different animals. The forests must be cleared for the development of palm oil and this is done by setting fire to the land which destroys not only their home, but leads to many of the animals burning to death. The deforestation also increases access to the animals for poachers and wildlife smugglers, who capture them as pets, for medicinal uses, or body parts. Some orangutans are even shot by plantation owners or farmers because the animals are viewed as ‘pests.’
These poor animals are being burned, captured by smugglers or shot by plantation owners
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
Europe is aware when palm oil is an ingredient in their store-bought food, but this is unfortunately not the case in the U.S.. EU law on food information to consumers (FIC) means that there are no hidden ingredients under generic titles, such as palm oil written as vegetable oil. If Europe can pass this law, why can’t the rest of the world? We must lobby for palm oil to be labelled so you can make your own choices of which products to buy.
Also, here is a petition to sign to demand only sustainable palm oil: Save Orangutans