From toothpaste to pizza, palm oil is integral to human consumption. In a bad way.
Header image details just some of a wide range of unsustainable palm oil products.
BY FARZANEH PISHRO
Palm oil has a place in aspect of our lives. From toothpaste to pizza, as the most widely used vegetable oil palm oil is an integral part of the food industry. Palm oil can be found in all kinds of baked goods, chocolate, milk, cosmetics and toiletries, shampoos, soaps and detergents. However, most of us are unaware of the danger the palm oil industry exposes to orangutans, living in palm trees that only grow in the tropics. General human ignorance has led to a bitter predicament for the species, and it is heading the way of extinction if we don’t do something. Like stop buying Mi Goreng.
The main populations of orangutans can be found in Borneo, which is divided between the three nations of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, and Sumatra which is exclusively Indonesian. The massive global consumption of palm oil has preceeded deforestation in these countries, leading to the deprivation of the species’ natural habitat.
Clearing primary forests is far more economically profitable than using degraded lands for palm oil companies, because the ashes of the fire used for deforestation acts as a fertiliser for the soil. The global demand for palm oil has fuelled deforestation of virgin tropical lands for cultivation, and is the main reason for destruction of rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia. It has left a devastating impact on biodiversity in these tropical countries, endangering species like the orangutan and a variety of tigers in Sumatra as well as triggering soil erosion and large scale air pollution. After palm oil plantations are sowed, orangutans attempting to return to their habitat for food are often brutally killed- now classified as pests.
What can be done to prevent the devastating effects of palm oil industry? In his short video about the lacerating effects of palm oil industry, David Wolfe recommends the clearest option- the general population stop consuming products containing palm oil. Additionally, we should pay attention to the CERTIFIED PALM OIL sign on palm oil products, which guarantees sustainability. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has encouraged palm oil expansion in a greener methods. The organisation holds annual meetings with stakeholders to discuss the environmental impact of their industrial enterprise.
You can visit their website here.
Image credit: Activist News Australia.