It’s been in the news for years. We’ve written several blogs, including one explaining why we use it and the most recent explaining why it’s no longer enough to “just say no” to palm oil produced on Indonesia and Malaysian plantations. We’ve worked with international NGO’s, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), to establish connections between issue-oriented groups and small companies working toward the same goal.
Concern from Beyond Borders
For America and Western Europe, the consequences of unsustainable palm oil production have remained mostly out of sight. Unlike GMOs or the triclosan used in anti-bacterial soaps, palm oil hasn’t had the advantage of being in front of us every day. As a result, our awareness is dated. It’s already too late for a comfortable position.
Just Saying No causes producers to go underground and manufacturers to use deceptive labeling. Replacing palm oil with another oil, given the amount of oil that palm trees produce per acre, would generate two to four times the environmental impact. The only real answer is the development of a sustainable market. It would help immensely if Europe would stop using palm oil as a bio-fuel, but the long-term answer is sustainable production. Even for those of us playing catch-up, there are ways to be a part of a better future.
What to Do
The best first step is research. Knowing the issues and their complexities for yourself makes it personal and far more immediate. There are wonderful resources for getting up to speed quickly. The news isn’t going to be good, but it’s important news to have.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a great place to start. They’re tackling a giant problem – with a lot of help – and as the most visible organization frequently get criticized for not having waved their wand and fixed everything already. Which can happen when the realities of a problem are so far away and it’s why researching and appreciating the scope of things is so important. The World Wildlife Fund, which works with the RSPO, is also a great resource for what the sustainability issues are and what can be done.
TriplePundit, an online platform for global media, lists 10 companies committed to sustainable palm oil. GreenPalm, which works with the RSPO certification program, has a great page that addresses the big picture with good bullet points and graphics.
As you’ll discover, the news isn’t good, and the solutions aren’t quick or simple. But there are concerned people out there doing serious work that will benefit us all. The key is growing the numbers of the concerned.