Have you ever considered where the products you use every day come from or how they impact the environment? All of the items on our weekly grocery list contain ingredients originally sourced from the environment in one way or another. It is important for us to understand where those ingredients are harvested, and what kind of impact they have on the environment.
Harvesting of natural resources can have a dramatic impact on surrounding ecosystems. For example, palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of palm plants. It is present in many products including food, cleaning products, and cosmetics. The majority of palm oil originates from Indonesia and Malaysia, areas rich in tropical rainforests. Large portions of these natural rainforest habitats are cut down to plant palm plantations to produce palm oil. Tropical rainforests are some of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet containing thousands of unique species, including the endangered orangutan. The destruction of the orangutan‘s habitat leaves them vulnerable to human conflicts and poaching.
It’s difficult to completely cut palm oil out of your life because it is in so many common household products, but you can choose to be informed about the products you purchase and support companies that use sustainably sourced palm oil instead. This is as easy as checking the ingredients on the label. Companies that use sustainable palm oil will note this in either their ingredient list or display an RSPO seal like the ones shown below. These seals are produced by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); an organization which unites stakeholders from different sectors of the palm oil industry to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. Another seal to look for is the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, also shown below. The rainforest alliance is one of the many organizations acting as consultants for the RSPO.
This Earth Month, we’re challenging you to be a smart shopper! Before you drop that box in your shopping cart, take a look at the ingredients and if it contains palm oil check for the seals listed above. Another options is downloading the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s app for sustainable palm oil products. The app allows you to scan product barcodes to determine if they use sustainable palm oil, and offers product alternatives if the product is not a sustainable choice. Check out the links below for more information on organizations in the sustainable palm oil industry and how your favorite companies are making changes.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Palm Oil App Information
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature discusses palm oil and biodiversity:
World Wildlife Fund Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Website
Previous blog post on Sustainable Palm Oil
Rainforest Alliance Certified Seal