Palm Oil Plantations are desperate to prove that they are environmentally friendly. The truth is that most of them are far from being so. Large palm oil companies buy up vast tracts of pristine rainforest, destroy it and plant the land with palm oil trees. In the process they destroy the livelihoods of local farmers and are driving orang utans and other rainforest species to extinction. You can find out more by watching this video The Sustainability Lie.
The problem for us as consumers is that palm oil turns up in everything - most processed foods and toiletries contain palm oil. The only way to avoid it is to be really careful what you buy and to make as much of your meals from scratch. Also use as few cosmetics and toiletries as you can and look for products that don't contain palm oil.
Patersons is a Scottish company that makes oatcakes. I discovered their oatcakes recently and noticed that they are palm oil free. It's excellent to see a company recognising the need to stop using palm oil. Paterson's are members of the UK Orang Utan Foundation and have some good information on Palm oil on their website, which you can read here. Similarly, the Handmade Oatcake company (whose oatcakes I wrote about in this review of Greener Monday) don't use palm oil.
Ultimately, there is a limit to what consumers can do and it is down to companies to genuinely ensure that they work to environmentally sustainable practices. Having said that, I'm now going to write to a toiletries company that delights in calling itself organic but uses palm oil in most of its soaps.
As ever, red tect in this post contain hyperlinks to sites where you can find out more.