Conflict Palm Oil and the Destruction of Rainforests

The rainforests are the lungs of the earth, provide food to many people, and are an amazing ecosystem for some of the world’s most beautiful flora and fauna. With that in mind, there’s little doubt that the effects of rainforest deforestation would be devastating to both people and the environment, but with about 75 million acres cut down each year, we might not have long to act.

Why are the rainforests being cut down?

It’s common knowledge that the rainforests are being cut down at an alarming rate for things from cheap timber, rubber, paper, pulp, and to make land for cattle and farming. However, many are unfamiliar with the rising use of conflict palm oil, which recently exploded as ingredient substitute after the FDA banned trans-fat.

Cheap and versatile, palm oil is used in about 50% of prepackaged snack foods, soaps, shampoos, lipsticks and other common items. Palm crops thrive in hot climates with peatland soil, putting the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia in danger of being exploited for their perfect growing conditions. Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests are being depleted faster than any others, so much so that Indonesia is the third largest contributor to carbon emissions globally, just behind America and China. If we lose the rainforests in Sumatra and Borneo we will also say goodbye to distinct animals like sun bears, Sumatran rhinos, and orangutans, forever.

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Who is responsible?

It seems like a no-brainer. Harvesting palm oil brings more carbon dioxide into the environment, destroys rainforests and animals who live in it, and impacts the livelihood of those who depend on the forests for their food and way of life. So, who could be so shortsighted to only think about money? Who is responsible for turning these lush, fertile habitats into uninhabited waste?

In short, many food corporations think they can get away with using palm oil in their products are complicit in the destruction of the rainforests. Popular brands like Hershey’s, Campbell’s, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and more are part of the “The Snack Food 20” and are contributing to the destruction of the rainforests through their selfish and reckless practices. We need to act now before the palm oil industry expands to other countries and affects other indigenous people and animals.

Interestingly enough, there are alternatives to palm oil, but with the currently rapid pace of deforestation, it is apparent that things may get worse before they get better.

What you can do

1) Buyer beware: When you are in the supermarket or buying clothes or beauty products, make sure that your choices are palm oil free. Your wise buying choices send a message to corporations that you will not stand for conflict palm oil and deforestation.

2) Join the team: Tell the corporations that you are part of the Palm Oil Action team and make sure to sign petitions that show corporations we expect them to be conflict palm oil free. We need to act now before the palm oil industry expands to other countriesand affects more indigenous people and animals.

3) Spread the news: Share the issue with friends and family on social media. After all, the solution is #InYourPalm.

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