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An edible vegetable oil, palm oil is derived from palm fruit grown on African oil palm trees. Originally from Western Africa, these trees flourish in biodiverse environments with extreme heat and rainfall, and today, palm oil is grown throughout Asia, Africa, North America and South America with 85% of global palm oil being produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, typically without using sustainable measures. 



Palm oil cultivation is linked to deforestation, habitat destruction, climate change, poaching and human rights issues. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared every hour for palm oil production. This massive deforestation, which has tripled in just a decade, is pushing many species to extinction and data shows that if changes don’t occur species like wild Sumatran orangutan may become extinct within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years.



To grow palm oil, producers first have to prep the land and this is where the problem occurs. Trees must be cut and peatlands have to be drained to make way for plantations. In doing so, mass amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. Consequently, the dried land acts as a tinderbox resulting in major fires that pollute the atmosphere. These fires contribute to Indonesia being the third highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.



Start by looking at the labels of the foods and household supplies you buy. You’d be surprised how many products use palm oil. In fact, tens of millions of tons of palm oil is produced each year and is found in approximately 50% of household products including nut butters, baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste. Some companies have eliminated the use of palm oil or have switched to sustainable crops, and more are heading in that direction, but there’s still a long way to go, especially for the big companies that use the most. Something as simple as switching to a palm oil free peanut butter like CB’s is a small step in the right direction, and when multiplied by consumers all over the world, becomes a large movement.


What’s Your Reason?

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons to stop using palm oil, and if consumers don’t stand up for change, continued production will not only destroy Indonesia but other countries that follow in its footsteps. Whether you do it for the planet, the people or the animals, make a decision today to stop purchasing products that contain palm oil and do your part to solve this global crisis.