Feb 14

Let’s Make This A Better Year for Wildlife!

If your New Year’s Resolution involved walking more gently on the planet, practicing compassion or being a more conscientious consumer – then this blog is for you!     

Seeing the Amazon and Malaysia rainforests burn, as well as the animals and plants that call these forests home, just to grow cheap palm oil, breaks my heart. The videos of endangered orangutans being shot out of trees infuriates me.  So much cruelty and brutality for cheap, unnecessary products. 

Palm oil has become ubiquitous in so many products as American corporations, shareholders and consumers greedily demand cheap products.  

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. The palm fruit yields both palm oil and palm kernel oil. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit and is an edible oil used in food. Palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit and is used in the manufacture of cosmetics.

There are two main species of oil palm tree; Elaeis guineensis, native to West Africa and Elaeis oleifera, native to Central and South America. Both species grow in tropical regions including Colombia in South America, New Guinea in the Pacific, Ghana in Africa and Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. Palm oil plantations are the main driver for deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. These two regions account for 85 percent of global production of palm oil.

When consumers try to purchase products without palm oil, the industry and corporations make it difficult for consumers to even know if a product has palm oil by using many different names on the labels. They literally try to trick us and this behavior should be illegal.   

If you do an internet search for “products without palm oil” many lists will pop up.  However, many of the products do have palm oil – just using a different name for palm oil. Some products market themselves as environmentally produced, such as Seventh Generation, Burt’s Bees and Toms of Maine but they contain palm oil. To stop purchasing palm oil one must read labels very carefully.  

Here is a list of names that are palm oil from the World Wildlife Fund:  

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol  

Sidenote:  Not all vegetable oil is palm oil however if a product does not disclose a particular oil, such as peanut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil etc. then it is probably palm oil. Palm oil is a saturated fat, so if a product lists vegetable oil and contains saturated fats as more than 40 percent of its total fat content on its nutritional information label – then you can 99% assume it would be palm oil. If you are still unsure, ask the company.

Deforestation photo credit Wikimedia

Burning rainforests and lying corporations made me angry –  so I took action. I did research to find better products for me and the planet.   

Corporations, politicians and lazy consumers will make it seem too difficult to be a conscientious consumer.  But it’s not! There is a false narrative that one consumer can’t make a difference and only government action will solve problems.  

I hope the government will take action but at this point they are not and won’t for a long time. Even if a bill requiring transparency passed the House, Senate and was signed by Trump today – it would not go into effect for a few years and that may be too late for some species. In fact, the government right now is rolling back safeguarding environmental regulations. 

Only consumer choices make a difference right now – today.  

Personally, I sleep better knowing I am trying not to harm people or animals.  

Food is easy – just do not purchase processed foods.  Buy fruits and vegetables, they are palm free! Buy cereals and breads with a few clear ingredients and try to buy organic – great way to avoid palm oil.  Avoid nutella, most candy and junk food in general and you are avoiding palm oil. Your healthy choices help your body and the forests and the plants and animals that live there! 

The bathroom and laundry room are more complicated but there are great products available now.  

I use all these products and love them. 

Everything on this list is palm oil free. 

They are vegan. 

They are cruelty-free. 

Many are organic. 

Almost all avoid single use plastic. Massive amounts of single-use plastic (only approximately 9% of plastic is recycled in the USA) ends up in wildlife habitat and animal and human bodies. 

You can even purchase directly from the company and do not need to use Amazon.

Let’s encourage these businesses to keep doing the right thing by supporting them!      

These are just my recommendations. There are more products being created every day.  As for price, I am not sure if these products are cheaper or more expensive than what you can buy at a chain corporate store, but those products do not internalize their externalities.  You pay for corporate pollution with your health – both mental and physical – and they get the financial profit. Flip it over! Buy products that benefit you in their utilitarian purpose, as well as help your health both mental and physically.  

And let the good guys make a profit!   

And if they are more expensive and you can afford them, buy them.  Economies of scale will bring prices down for everyone. 

Toothpaste – 

Davids has no palm oil, vegan, cruelty-free, made from renewable energy and comes in a metal tube. 

https://davids-usa.com/

Moisturizers, shampoos, lip balms, deodorant, soaps etc.-

All vegan, cruelty-free, no palm oil and almost all the products are organic. 

Products do come in plastic containers and I am asking them to find a way to return and refill.

https://fancifulfox.myshopify.com/

Paper goods for people and planet –

Have the choice to purchase paper products made from bamboo and no dyes or 100% recycled and no dyes. 

Everything comes in recycled paper – no plastic.  

https://us.whogivesacrap.org/

Palm oil free laundry products – 

Vegan and cruelty-free. 

Almost all laundry detergent has palm oil – but not at MyGreenRefills. 

You get a plastic container with your first purchase, then refill packets that come in paper.  

https://mygreenfills.com/

Glass, bathroom, and other cleaning products – 

Vegan, cruelty and palm oil free.

No single-use plastic because the first order includes containers, after that refill packets in paper.

Refill is the new recycle!    

https://www.blueland.com/pages/our-mission

Please let us know if you are using other great products.  We need to inform and educate each other and promote these companies for doing the right thing! 

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