The world of sustainability and eco-friendly home swaps is one which is swamped by a series of buzzwords and key phrases; often used with little explanation or knowledge about what they actually do or what kind of harm they present to our natural world. Palm oil is one of them.
How many times have you seen articles and headlines telling you to stop using products with palm oil, but found no real reason as to why palm oil is dangerous for the environment? So often, health blogs and wellness articles dive into why certain products are good or bad for us as a species, with little regard for how they affect the world around us.
We’re here to cut loose all of those useless articles and draw attention to the dangers of palm oil for the environment, and to tell you exactly why we are against Palm oil – and always will be.
What is palm oil?
You are most likely to see palm oil listed as an ingredient in cooking and food production, skincare and cosmetics, and in specific wound care thanks to its antimicrobial properties. The use of palm oil is particularly widespread in commercial food production because it is cheap to use, with around 50% of products in an average UK supermarket known to contain some level of palm oil.
Through these stats alone, it’s not hard to see that we are facing an uphill battle. Finding an effective replacement for palm oil is no mean feat – and to make a difference, we have to combat not only the supermarkets and the food industry, but also the cosmetics, healthcare and biofuel industries as well.
Where does it come from?
This is where the problem stems – from the origin of palm oil.
The truth is simple: around 193 critically endangered and vulnerable species are impacted by palm oil on a global scale.
The plantations across South America, New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia create large crops of palm fruit every year, with the oil itself being extracted from the pulp of the fruit. The labour cost for production is low and the annual yield is high, meaning that in the grand scheme of things, the cost for producing palm oil is also low and so demand is consistently high.
However, the issues come from the construction of these plantations. With every new plantation that comes to fruition, deforestation and the loss of environmental habitat is huge. On top of that, each plantation will only last for a maximum of 50 years – generally closer to 20 or 30 in most cases – meaning that in terms of sustainability, palm oil is down there as one of the most invasive and short term solutions currently used by humans.
Have you seen the video online, of an orangutan swinging around the links of an industrial crane because its entire home has been demolished? This kind of footage is being used all over the world by wildlife and environmental charities to bring to life the huge damage that palm oil is doing to the natural world.
But it’s still not enough. In order for people to change the way they shop and use ingredients and products, we have to present them with cost effective alternatives.
Why is palm oil so commonly used?
The main reason why so many different industries and product manufacturers lean on palm oil is the versatility of the oil and the fact that it can be used as both a liquid or a solid – pitting it above a number of other alternative oils which we could be using instead. Palm oil also contains a natural preservative which helps expand the lifespan of certain foods, making it particularly popular with supermarkets who want to extend the use by date on their products as much as possible.
So, what can we do to lower our reliance on palm oil?
If you’re looking for a way to combat palm oil use in your own home, we recommend starting with your soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and your kitchen cupboards. The best place to start is to simply read the labels on some of your favourite and most commonly purchase products – you will probably be surprised how many times palm oil pops up where you least expect it!
There are some brands out there sharing their position on the use of sustainable palm oil – however, all this really means is that the palm oil has been derived from designated plantations without completely eradicating the global and environmental damage done by palm oil production.
When it comes to making smart choices and eco-friendly home swaps, we understand that is it not always easy or convenient to simply cut your usage of certain ingredients and products. Cutting palm oil is a gradual process which covers many areas of your home, however by browsing our selection of eco-friendly and sustainable products, you will be able to understand and find some of the highly rated alternatives to suit your home and lifestyle.