Palm oil is a popular ingredient that is used in many food products because it’s cheap and easy to get a lot of it. It gives a nice taste to our food but it’s not so good for the planet and the animals that live on it. Recently, people have started talking about the negative impact of palm oil production on the environment and wildlife. One of the major issues is that the increasing demand for palm oil is leading to the rapid deforestation of rainforests, which is the habitat of endangered species like orangutans. This is really sad and it’s happening really fast.
Also, the people who live near the palm oil trees are sometimes getting kicked out of their homes, which is not cool. And, some of the companies making palm oil aren’t being very careful with the environment, which is making the air and water dirty.
And, the worst part, is that it’s hard for people like you and me to know which products are good and which ones are bad, because the companies aren’t always very open about where they get their palm oil from. Okay, let’s analyze what forms palm oil comes in and which products contain palm oil so you better avoid it for better alternatives.
Why is palm oil bad for the environment? Should you avoid any products with palm oil at all?
I’ve spent some time researching its effects on the environment and to summarize, I could say that palm oil is bad for the environment because its production causes deforestation and loss of habitats for animals, pollution and contributes to climate change.
Also, many people associate palm oil only with food products, when lots of cleaning products, cosmetics contain it as well! I like the visualization presented by World Wild Life on everyday products that contain palm oil, which show palm oil can be found in different products. It is also useful to know other derivatives of palm oil so you can spot them on different products, which include:
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
CONTAINS: Palm oil
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
Sustainable alternatives to palm oil
There are several alternatives to palm oil that are currently being used or developed. Some examples include:
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is made from the meat of coconuts and is commonly used as a cooking oil. It has a similar consistency to palm oil and can be used as a substitute in many products. However, it has a higher saturated fat content, which can be less healthy for human consumption. Also, the production of coconut oil can also have negative environmental impacts, such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
- Rapeseed oil: Rapeseed oil is made from the seeds of the rapeseed plant and is commonly used as a cooking oil and in biodiesel. Rapeseed oil is a healthier oil than palm oil, as it has a lower saturated fat content. Also, it is grown in temperate regions, so it is not linked to deforestation. However, the production of rapeseed oil requires large amounts of water, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers could have negative impacts on the environment.
- Other alternatives include: olive oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.
In terms of sustainability and environmental impact, these alternatives are better than palm oil, but they still have their own environmental challenges. For example, coconut oil and rapeseed oil are not linked to deforestation, but they still have negative environmental impacts, such as water usage, pesticide use, and pollution.
How you can help stop the environmental damage of palm oil products
First of all, you can avoid purchasing goods made with unsustainable palm oil and support initiatives that ask businesses that do use it to switch to sustainable alternatives.
It can be challenging to choose a product that uses sustainable palm oil. The product will probably have a certification on it if it contains sustainable palm oil.
Check the ingredients to see if there are any other names for palm oil that are listed if the product does not have the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certification on it (as listed above).
In conclusion, palm oil is a common ingredient in practically all products, but if it is not produced responsibly, it can be harmful to the planet. It’s crucial to think carefully about the items we use every day and choose those derived from bio-based alternatives or certified sustainable palm oil.
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