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Orangutan-friendly Palm Oil

Palm oil. It’s in your processed foods, soaps, cosmetics, and more.  The use of palm oil, harvested from the fruit of the oil palm plant, has risen sharply over the past five years. Oil palm plantations are spreading across Indonesia, where 85% of the world’s supply of its preferred vegetable oil is produced, to the detriment of its rainforests and the orangutans that live there.

Palm oil plantation

Palm oil plantation

In 2004, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed to promote sustainable methods of producing palm oil that do not involve clear cutting rainforests. RSPO initiated a program in 2008 to certify sustainable palm oil producers. Despite a slow start, markets show that manufacturing companies are responding as a record amount of palm oil was purchased from sustainable producers in March 2010.

Oil palms

Oil palms

With about 50% of our everyday products containing palm oil, it’s nearly impossible to cut it out of our lives entirely. There is also no easy way to know whether a certain product contains sustainably harvested palm oil just yet. We can, however, voice our concerns and support companies that pledge to use sustainable palm oil in their products, including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, which have committed to purchasing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015.

Orangutan (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Orangutan (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

The next time you go shopping, use your purchasing power to help protect orangutans. For more information, including a downloadable list of orangutan-friendly Halloween candy, check out the palm oil web page put together by our friends at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

2 comments

1 Shawn Thompson { 10.07.11 at 11:35 am }

It should be added that the major consumers of palm oil are in India and China and we have to somehow influence that.

Another way to help is to join the Orang Utan Republik, a non-profit organization working at a grass-roots level to change attitudes within Indonesia.

Shawn Thompson, author of The Intimate Ape: Orangutans and the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species

2 Rhonda S. Radford { 10.07.11 at 4:19 pm }

I was very happy to read a couple big companies taking the lead using sustainable palm oil. Let’s hope other corporations follow their positive lead,and if not,let’s make our voice heard and let them know consumers would like them to use sustainable palm oil in their products.

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