It's Time to Boycott Palm Oil

In 2018, climate change and the growing Pacific Trash Vortex are not new information. Hopefully we all know by now to bring our reusable bags to the grocery store, pass on plastic straws and bottles, drive as little as possible, turn the lights off when we leave a room – you know, the basics of not destroying the planet. But in the last few months, another environmental threat might have risen to the forefront of your Twitter feed: palm oil.

Back in August, Greenpeace International released an advert about how palm oil production leads to the destruction of rainforests and the endangerment of animals, pointing out orangutans as a specific (and very cute) example. It’s worth watching (though I recommend taking a moment to remove your mascara before you hit play).

When my roommate and I saw the video on Twitter, we immediately set out to rid our apartment of palm oil – like, completely. We made a list of everything in the house that contained palm oil: Chips Ahoy!, Kellogs granola bars, Trader Joe’s chocolate truffles, bread. Even things like lipstick, laundry detergent, and shampoo. I won’t lie to you – purging our household of palm oil has been a bit of a pain. I’m a sucker for those crunchy little chocolate chip cookies. But it’s so important to do, and not just for the precious baby orangutan in the video. Here are a few more reasons to boycott palm oil:

1. LOTS of animals, actually. In case you don’t care enough about orangutans, palm oil production directly causes the destruction of habitats of several different endangered species – like tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses. According to www.saynotopalmoil.com, 33 percent of Indonesian mammal species are critically endangered because of palm oil-related deforestation. This should upset you. Boycott palm oil so you’ll know you aren’t contributing to the deaths of animals.

2. Palm oil plantations destroy biodiversity. Animals aren’t the only species threatened by palm oil. The World Wildlife Fund reports that as much as 300 football fields-worth of rainforest is destroyed every hour to clear land for oil palm trees. That kind of destruction isn’t easily repaired – better to stop it happening in the first place by (you guessed it) boycotting palm oil.

3. Climate change isn’t just a car issue. There’s a lot more polluting our atmosphere with CO2 than your commute to school. Indonesia is one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in the world because of timber-burning associated with deforestation and palm oil production. And removing all that gorgeous rainforest undergrowth means there are fewer plants to absorb the carbon dioxide produced in the clearing process. Ready to boycott palm oil yet? Yeah, me too.

4. And carbon dioxide isn’t just a climate change issue. You know how CO2 messes with the atmosphere so the temperature of the earth rises and all kinds of natural disasters happen and stuff? Good, that’s all true. But it also causes ocean acidification, which kills coral reefs, makes it difficult for snails and other marine calcifying organisms to produce shells hard enough to survive, and contributes to a whole host of other problems as we move up the food chain. Stressed out? Boycott palm oil.

5. Palm oil production is a threat to human rights. Because the palm oil industry boosts the economies of countries like Borneo and Sumatra, those governments prioritize oil corporations over the rights and safety of indigenous peoples – meaning they sell native land to be used for oil palm tree plantations. And if that’s not bad enough, children are often made to work on the plantations in terrible conditions for little to no pay. So we’re boycotting palm oil.

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources with further information about the evils of palm oil and which products to look out for – because I know you care as much as I do about animals and people and our planet, so you’re getting ready to raid your pantry too. Check out https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/which-everyday-products-contain-palm-oil and http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/Whats_the_issue.php to start and drag as many friends and roommates and family members into this with you as you can. Whatever happens in the world moving forward, it’s always a comfort to feel like you’re doing your part.

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3