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Everything You Need to Know About Palm Tree Deforestation and How You Can Help

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UW Stout chapter.

Whether you realize it or not, palm oil has taken over the food industry by a storm. Did you know that according to ran.org, an organization dedicated to changing the global market for palm oil, palm oil is in half of the packaged products we see at the grocery store? This includes foods like cookies, ice cream, chips, cereal, noodles, and crackers. Also, many cosmetics also contain palm oil. So what is so bad about palm oil? 

“Palm oil production is also responsible for human rights violations as corporations often forcefully remove Indigenous Peoples and rural communities from their lands. Tragically, child labor and modern-day slavery still occur on plantations in both Indonesia and Malaysia.” -ran.org 

Palm tree oil trees are natively from Africa, but now are being grown primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia. The trees are being expanded to West and central Africa as well as Latin America. According to orangutain.org, “Palm oil accounts for 11% of Indonesia’s export earnings and is the most valuable agricultural export. Overall, it is Indonesia’s third largest export earner. “Unfortunately, this is not the only negative side effects to this commodity. The deforestation is also impacting the wildlife that lives in the forest. Specifically, the orangutans.  Orangutans have been endangered for some time now, and it’s no surprise that the leading cause of their endangerment is palm tree deforestation. On top of that, the deforestation has led to soil erosion and damaging the world’s climate. In fact, Indonesia is the world’s third largest carbon contributor after China and the United States (organutan.org). Due to the large demand for this product, our world’s animals, people, and climate are being affected in the worst way possible. 

There is a reason that palm oil is so desperately sought after. In cosmetics specifically, it adds a creaminess that product developers desire. It is also cheaper than coconut oil. Its versatility is a big reason why it can be used in so many products. Palm oil can be processed in a variety of different melting points, consistencies, and characteristics. 

It is clear that the negatives outweigh the positives in this major worldwide dilemma. I end this by urging you to be aware of what is inside the products and foods that you are buying. Keep in mind that a small change on your part could help a lot for animals and people that are being affected by this and stay woke. 


Katie is a student at UW-Stout majoring in Professional Communications and Emerging Media. Her hobbies including cuddling with her Golden Retriever, Dante, watching Netflix in her bathrobe, and of course, writing! 
Her Campus at UW-Stout