What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruits of oil palm plants. Palm oil originates from west Africa, where there are still many fruit palm plantations. Nowadays, oil palm plantations can be found in 43 countries. The major producers are Indonesia and Malaysia, and they produce around 85% of the world’s total.
My journey with Palm Oil
At the beginning of my soap making journey I was convinced that I would be producing Palm Oil free soap. With the plight of the Orangutans in Borneo at the forefront of my mind when thinking about Palm Oil, it was something that I felt strongly about avoiding.
Fast forward a few months and many many hours of reading and researching I believe that good palm oil is not only possible but I’m now convinced choosing palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources is crucial to our planet’s healthy future which is why my soaps are made with Palm Oil.
My commitment to good Palm Oil
I am fully committed to supporting what is good about palm oil instead of boycotting it completely, and joining the fight to drive the industry toward commitments to avoid what is bad about palm oil.
My palm oil supplier is a certified member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and fully committed to 100% zero deforestation, free from land conflict and human rights violations. I get regular updates on the company policies, directives and incentives on conserving nature and minimising impact on the environment.
My reasons for choosing Palm Oil
I absolutely respect anyone’s decision to avoid Palm Oil, but here are my reasons for choosing to using it in my soaps.
Because of their high yield, oil palm plantations are the most sustainable, and preferable to any other type of oil crop.
Palm Oil has an average yield of 3.62 tonnes per hectare. This is 5 times greater than that of rapeseed (0.75 tonnes/hectare) and no less than 9 times that of soy (0.37 tonnes/hectare).
The farming of oil palm plants, around the world as a whole, takes up 17 million hectares of land, which is just 6% of the total of farmed land, and it supplies 35% of the world’s requirement for vegetable oil.
Of all crops, oil palm plantations are the most sustainable. Palm oil is an incredibly high-yielding vegetable oil, which means that anything replacing it will have to use more land – that does not solve the issue of deforestation and associated land use change.
Along with using less land, the oil palm gobbles up significantly fewer pesticides and chemical fertilisers than coconut, corn, soy, rapeseed or any other vegetable oil source.
3. Rural Development
Palm oil is everywhere. No cookie-eating, soap-using, clean-clothed person could really avoid using palm oil and its derivatives. Its also a critical part of the Indonesian economy, providing crucial income to rural communities and pumping money into this fast developing country while protecting forests and other ecosystems.
These are my 3 main reasons for using palm oil in my soaps, so please read, research and make up your own mind. By all means takes a stand against the companies using unsustainable palm oil and instead, buy consciously from those committed to sustainable oils. I believe that a complete boycott or ban of palm oils is a misleading and damaging message we all need to avoid. Let’s not forget the orang-utans and the palm oil crisis, but lets also make sure our actions are directed at the suppliers and manufacturers who need to change their practice. Change in corporations will happen if people take action and make conscious decisions that affect their profits and the good news is that these sustainable brands are mainstream. Put your money where your outrage is and invest in those who’ve already switched to the sustainable and ethical options.
Reducing my own waste and contribution to climate decline is something I strive to be better at. I want to produce my products, safe in the knowledge that orang-utans are safe in their habitat, other wildlife is protected and nurtured as we harvest what we need from around them in a safe and responsible manner and that in some small way, I am contributing to a more sustainable way of producing products that are better for the planet.
We all can make a difference to achieving change in the right way.