Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Sustainability Lie

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.


Naquillity said...

i wish there were more people like you in the world so these companies wouldn't destroy so much wildlife. you keep everyone aware so maybe there's hope.

that cramond fish picture your boyfriend took is great. glad you had a nice walk.

your winter bird haiku is really nice too. hope all is well.

Nia said...

I think that another way of reducing palm oil use is to make a sensible use of toiletries. Washing you hair less times a week, for example, may seem small, but if someone went from daily washing to twice-weekly, that would mean reducing shampoo, water etc use by more than half. I have also found that my face is in its best state if I wash with water only, and do a cleanser-moisturiser routine once every few days.

About toiletries, it's a pain that the easiest alternative to plain solid soap (made from fats and most of all palm oil) are liquids based in sodium laureth sulfate, that come in plastic bottles. Until I find a good supply of olive oil soap.

Rosaria Williams said...

So much going on in our food industry that is ultimately unhealthy for the planet.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Nia - i was going to say something about that too, but Blogger is being weird at the moment. Hopefully i can get back in and re-edit. I wash my hair once a week and use a minimum of cosmetics, and I use those that are as natural as I can find short of making my own.

Naquillity - thanks

lakeviewer - so true!

Oh said...

Dear CGP, Keep up the good work. I will read more carefully. Also, on a personal campaign against corn syrup. Not so much environmentally I guess as it is a health issue (in its EVERYthing) but thanks for the info on palm oil.

And I love your header photo! You always have something lovely there.

Carver said...

Great information. It is so sad to me how little progress we seem to make as a species in terms of being environmentally sound.

Anonymous said...

I been watching the Stephen Fry & Mark Carwardine show 'Last Chance to See' about species that are almost extinct and Stephen Fry was talking about the palm oil issue - it's truly horrific and most people don't even know it. Thanks for increasing awareness.

Kitty said...

thank you for the informative and succinct reminder. it's one to work on for me.

Titus said...

I get very exercised about the Palm Oil scandal - and it is an absolute scandal. Very much a staple of the World Service 3am documentaries, and thanks for highlighting it again for those not insomniac. And we love Patersons! Their triangle oatcakes are the best!

Cathy said...

I didn't realise all these facts about palm oil. I saw a frightening programme recently on the continuing destruction of rainforest and it was a real eye opener. I will be checking out my buys very carefully now. We are regretably a nation of buyers who don't check out the listed ingredients closely enough.