15 Popular Products that Contain Palm Oil
A few days ago, someone who follows ReduceWasteNow on Instagram messaged me and asked if I could do a blog post on palm oil. More specifically, what palm oil products contain unsustainable palm oil.
I knew palm oil is responsible for killing a lot of Orangutans; but I had no idea how destructive it really is. I did a little digging on how harmful it is to the environment, but before we get into that, let's find out what palm oil is and what it's used for.
Palm oil comes from the oil of the palm tree. There are two main species of oil palm trees. These species can be found in West Africa, as well as both Central and South America. The palm fruit that comes from the tree contains palm oil and palm kernel oil inside of it. Companies take the fruit and extract the palm oil from the pulp of the fruit to use in a ton of different products; it’s the second-most widely produced edible oil. Palm oil can be found in snacks like chips, crackers, batter and can also be found in toothpaste, soap, shampoo and a lot of different cosmetics.
Now that we know what palm oil is, let’s take a look at why it’s bad for the environment.
Why is palm oil bad for the environment?
When I was researching exactly why the extraction of palm oil is so bad for the environment, I was shocked.
Companies that use palm oil truly leave a path of death and destruction. Did you know that 6,000 Orangutans die every year due to companies harvesting palm oil? Orangutans aren’t the only thing endangered by palm oil.
According to The Orangutan Project, “In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil.”
I did the math, and that's roughly 6,450,570 American football fields!
The deforestation that comes with palm oil is devastating to the environment. On average, A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. About 1000 to 2500 trees can be planted within a hectare of forest. So that means over the last 20 years, palm oil has stopped trees from potentially absorbing roughly 76 million to 190 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. That's a horrific number.
Now that we have the facts, let's take a look at what products contain unsustainable palm oil.
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Palm oil seems to be in everything, from biodiesel to pizza dough. When you're at the grocery store, be really careful to look through the ingredients. Although a lot of the time companies like to hide the fact they use unsustainable palm oil by using a different name.
Palm oil goes by many different names, here's what you need to keep an eye out for when looking at a product's ingredient list:
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.
When shopping, keep the names above in mind, especially when shopping for the following products. These palm oil products may contain unsustainable palm oil:
- Face wash
- Ice cream
- Instant Noodles
- Packaged Bread
- Packaged Pastries
- Pizza Dough
Now that you know what products contain palm oil, let’s look into how you can help stop palm oil related environmental damage.
Composting is another great way to help the environment, check out everything you can and can't compost!
How you can help stop the environmental damage of palm oil products
There are a couple ways you can help stop environmental damage from palm oil. You can stop buying products with unsustainable palm oil, and reach out to companies who do use it and ask them to consider switching to a sustainable option.
Sometimes picking a product that uses sustainable palm oil is pretty difficult. If the product contains sustainable palm oil, it will likely have a certification on it.
If the product does not have the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certification on it, check the ingredients for the other names that palm oil goes by (as listed above).
We learned that palm oil is devastating to the environment, how to spot a product that uses sustainable versus unsustainable palm oil, and how to help stop palm oil from damaging the environment.
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