Jun 23 2017
How about a test? Next week, while you’re out doing your regular shopping, take a minute and check the ingredients list on the products that end up in your shopping cart. You’ll notice most of them have one ingredient in common – palm oil.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is the cheapest vegetable oil to produce and refine that doesn’t contain harmful trans fats. Palm oil is currently the most commonly used oil in the world, found in industrially processed food (biscuits, margarine, chocolate, various spreads...) and body care products, as well as in clothing, plastics, and pharmaceuticals manufacturing. Palm oil is derived from palm fruits and while the tree originates from West Africa, it now thrives anywhere where there is enough rain and sun. Today, palm trees can be found in Africa, Asia, North and South America. As much as 85% of palm oil is now produced and imported from plantations located in Indonesia and Malaysia.
What effect does palm oil have on the environment?
The palm oil production industry is enormous and has catastrophic consequences on the environment, the most prominent issues being deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change and animal cruelty of species that live in the areas where the palm tree plantations are located. According to WWF - the World Wildlife Fund - an area equivalent to the size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared every hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and if the industry use of palm oil continues at the same pace, orangutans could be extinct in the next 5 years.
Palm oil and skin care products
Palm oil is also very popular in the production of cosmetics and skin care products and as much as 70% of all cosmetic products contain palm oil. It is predominantly used as an emulsifier, an indispensable ingredient of water-based creams. As some of our creams contain water and hydrolates, a suitable alternative to palm oil was needed. While our aim is to use locally grown ingredients in our products as much as possible, the emulsifier of our choice is coconut oil, a natural emulsifier whose production is environmentally friendly.
There is, however, some good news. The increasing awareness of consumers about palm oil production and their resounding NO has “forced” large corporations as well as food and cosmetics manufacturers to slowly turn to sustainable palm oil use instead.