Over the past year I have been on a journey of finding out more information on how to live more sustainably, and by that I mean, where do my products come from? How can I become a more conscious consumer? And learning how things integrate and work together.
What is my part in all of this? In the last couple of days I have had my eyes widened to say the least, and the thing that has really captured me in the last couple of days is palm oil. To say that I knew little is an understatement. What exactly is the impact on the planet?, biodiversity?, animals?, extinction? deforestation? , and the fact that palm is only grown 10 degrees north or south of the equator? My findings leave me with this sentiment, Palm Oil is not a regenerative or sustainable crop.
Let’s get a bit of a background on Palm Oil. Palm Oil trees are most fruit bearing and prolific in a climate 10 degrees north and south of the equator. Palm has been used for millennia, it was discovered in tombs dated back to 3000BC. Palm oil is the most fluid and flexible oil on the market, meaning that it has multiple variations and is in products ranging from nail varnish, toothpaste, to bio-fuels and pretty much most things in-between.
Palm oil itself is not harmful, it is the demand of palm that is harmful. It is cheap to produce. The demand and the verstatility of the oil has encouraged people in developing countries to produce this crop. Old growth forests are being cleared for the land to grow this crop, animals of these regions are at risk of becoming extinct (in our lifetime) and the ever growing habits of large companies to use this product in nearly everything they produce to cut costs is becoming the norm.
The main problem that is being uncovered or should I say discovered is that equatorial forests, like that of the Amazon, Congo and the Indonesian are under threat of being cleared for various activities, Palm oil production being at the forefront. The animals of these regions are under intense pressure of extinction before palm oil plantations were introduced, and now it is even a faster and more frightening in to the end.
The main issue which makes my palms sweaty is that when I says “I’m not going to buy palm products any more,” It is actually very difficult to see and understand how insidious this product is, how many adaptations it has, or the fact that it has over 200 different names, now if that isn’t meant to confuse me then what is???
There is an overwhelming sense of too much in the world at the moment, it is like the entire game of living is in a dire lottery system, it is a matter of your number coming up. But, I am an eternal optimist, I find that this type of conversation and education is the beginning of new and beautiful things to come. Being able to know or choose your destiny in real time, to have this kind of knowledge or know the way to find out this kind of knowledge is the birthplace of change. So if you are feeling the overwhelm, kind of like every other person I know of, know this, if you manage to read the instructions and you don’t know what kind of vegetable oil is what, or you just found out your favourite nail varnish contains untraceable palm oil, or that your favourite chippies have palm oil in them, you have the choice to choose to not purchase them, to find an alternative and ask the brand what is actually in the formula. Some people do not know that, but as a consumer you are a shareholder, actually you always have been a shareholder in the business, therefore you have the right to ask these types of questions and get an answer.
Yes, I do have sweaty palms at the moment, I open up the kitchen/bathroom/laundry cupboard and I am overwhelmed by the amount of products I have purchased and consumed that have untraceable palm oil in them, but I am not going to throw them out, that would be doing a disservice to the production of the product originally, but I am now going to audit them, find an alternative that has a backbone and then I am going to slowly emit this ingredient from my life. That is what I can do, now and today. It will make a change to my life, and by writing this, in sharing this knowledge that I have just gained and being honest I can assist and help you to make these changes too. We are not alone, but together we are much stronger together all of us.