ECO Alphabet: Week 15: Oil

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

All types of oils are harvested to run our planet. In this post I'll be talking about

How Palm Oil Affects the Environment

Most products we consume everyday contain palm oil.

Palm oil extends the shelf life of products.

To the right you'll find just a few examples of food with palm oil.

You can also find it in shampoos, lotions, and its sometimes used to help power cars and homes.

Palm oil has a smooth texture that other oils would not be able to replace. It is also the cheapest of vegetable oils.

So how does it affect the environment exactly?

50 million tons of palm oil is produced yearly. Because it has become so popular, there has been massive deforestation to build palm plantations.

When forests decrease, more carbon is released which leads to global warming and climate change
Forests absorb CO2, but when deforestation occurs what would have been absorbed by the forest is released into the air. This leads to global warming, thinning of the ozone layer, and ocean acidification.

Because of this many species are becoming endangered like orangutans, Sumatran tigers and rhinos, sun bears, and more.

Only about 19% of palm oil harvesting is sustainable...

What can I do about it?

It would not be beneficial to end the palm oil business because palm trees create 4-10 times more oil per unit of cultivated land compared to other oils. If we switch to a different oil we would end up need more plantation space to grow those oils...

Instead, the best way to fix the problem is to support sustainable palm oil producers. These products will have an RSPO logo on them.

Companies who are certified must:

- have an entire sustainable supply chain

- monitor palm oil impacts on the market

- have fair working conditions

- have local lands protected

- not clear a primary forest

- protect wildlife on plantations

- reduce pollution

Watch this video to know how RSPO works:

Palm oil as an ingredient can be called palm kernel, palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil, palmate, palmitate, palm olein, stearate, stearic acid, and ethyl palmitate.

I checked around the house to see how many of my everyday foods have unsustainable palm oil in them... Here's what I found.


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