There is a serious conflict with palm oil. The cheaply-produced oil is derived from plants that have a high growth yield, making it a favorite ingredient choice for corporations who want to cut costs while sacrificing quality. However, the quality of the products is not all that is sacrificed. Palm oil plantations are a leading cause of rampant mass deforestation of our planet’s already disappearing rainforests, notably those on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, home of the Leuser Ecosystem, the only place on earth where orangutans and Sumatran tigers and elephants coexist. The issue is so serious that HALF of Borneo’s orangutan population has disappeared since 1999!
Richard Branson, always forward-thinking, is calling on the world to cut conflict palm oil out of their lives. On the Virgin website, Branson eloquently elaborates on the issues surrounding conflict palm oil. With heartfelt sincerity, he describes the utter beauty of the Leuser Ecosystem in its natural state and explains how conflict palm oil is pushing orangutans and other critically-endangered species to extinction while also having a serious negative impact on climate change. He delves into the issue of burning peatlands to clear way for palm oil plantations, which results in long-burning destructive forest fires that emit harmful gases while destroying irreplaceable habitats.
Branson urges us to become conscious consumers and demand change before it is too late. He states, “As consumers we have never had more power through our spending choices and through social media to demand an end to the use of conflict palm oil in the products we buy. It is time to act.”
Palm oil is so widely used that it is found in half of all items on supermarket shelves, everything from snack foods and baked goods to soaps and cosmetics. Even several products that are labeled “Vegan” contain palm oil. Though, as Branson points out, we as consumers have the power to change this. By choosing to read ingredient labels and not purchase products containing palm oil, by demanding transparency from corporations on their palm oil usage, and by enforcing stricter regulations on palm oil plantations, the orangutans and tigers may have a fighting chance to recover from the brink of extinction.
You can read the entirety of Branson’s article here.
Many people are completely unaware of the issues surrounding palm oil, so PLEASE take a cue from Richard Branson and encourage your peers to cut palm oil out of their lives! Read this for tips on how to get started.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons