Palm Oil: To Boycott or Not To Boycott

Day 354 – There’s a lot to consider when deciding to use products with palm oil.

The negative aspects of palm oil:

  1. Logging for large palm plantations causes deforestation and biodiversity loss in the tropics.
  2. The palm oil industry demands cheap labor and inflicts human rights violations on its workers.

It’s hard to avoid palm oil. It’s in a lot of our everyday products. Processed palm oil is a common ingredient in cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, and laundry detergent. It’s also a common ingredient in processed, packaged foods ranging from candy bars and potato chips to bread and instant noodles. 

So is boycotting palm oil a good decision?

According to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, a boycott unequivocally would not help workers, forests, or orangutans. On the contrary, it could have unintended consequences, like increased demand for soybean or sunflower oils that require five to 10 times more land. Or it could depress palm oil prices, encouraging its use in biofuels and livestock feed — products whose ingredients receive less scrutiny from consumers. In addition, about 4.5 million Indonesians and Malaysians currently earn a living from palm oil production. We know the industry is in need of fundamental change: The status quo fuels child labor, worker exploitation, and sexual abuse. Yet a wholesale boycott that could deprive workers of a primary source of income without recourse.” – Earth911

The best we can do is read labels carefully and do a little research as to where the palm oil we are using is coming from. Knowledge is truly power.

Tomorrow, the solution to removing microplastics from the ocean.

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