Taking Action On Palm Oil
This article was written by Monique van Wijnbergen and released in partnership with Palm Done Right.
Palm oil is a pervasive ingredient found on store shelves and in products like food (including vegan butter, cookies and tortillas), cosmetics, shampoo and even detergent. And, while it’s true that the irresponsible farming and production of palm, most commonly found in places like Southeast Asia, have led to the devastation of natural habitats, local environments and wildlife, that’s not the full story. Palm Done Right is a mission-based educational platform dedicated to proving that there is a positive solution.
This is the third in a three-part series that takes a closer look at issues and misunderstandings around the controversial product’s production and a deep dive into positive solutions for change.
Solutions Around Palm Oil: How You Can Take Action Too
As informed shoppers we pay close attention to the products we buy and where the ingredients in those products come from. Manufacturers today face greater pressure to educate their customers — and palm oil is no exception. Companies should demonstrate its great functional benefits to product quality and performance, and as a healthy alternative to really harmful trans fats. While the movement to ban palm or the “no palm” movement seems to be gaining traction, as conscious consumers, instead of avoiding this common ingredient in our products, we should challenge manufacturers to address concerns and use sustainably produced options.
Below are a few important things to look for from the brands you choose to support.
Look For Certified Organic
Without most of us being fully aware, palm oil has become part of our lives as an almost invisible ingredient in the products we use from the moment we get up in the morning until the moment we go to bed in the evening. But, even in the organic and natural products’ industry, only a few manufacturing companies source only organic and sustainable palm oil for their products. With demand for organic products flourishing as consumers seek out nutritious and clean food for their health and for the environment, the time is ripe for manufacturers to seek out organic ingredients, including those with an organic palm oil-base.
So, read labels and look or certified organic oils in the ingredients list — and demand your brands switch to only using palm done right.
Find Out Or Verify Whether Your Brand Knows Its Sources
The majority of palm oil imported into our markets comes from unknown sources. Most of it is produced in huge monocrop plantations or by the millions of smallholder farmers which deliver their fruit anonymously to large-scale mills. From there, crude palm oil or its fractions and derivates find its way to markets in bulk for further processing — all without anyone knowing exactly where or how it was produced. This anonymity keeps current destructive practices in place.
A growing number of brand manufacturers have started to thoroughly map their supply chains in collaboration with their suppliers. This is a vital step for identifying high-risk sources and for helping to ensure palm oil is organic, deforestation-free, wildlife-friendly, fair and social.
Find out whether the brands you choose know their palm oil sources. Be sure they know whether the oil they use comes from a single identifiable certified source and that it is kept separately from conflict palm oil. This is the only way you can be sure that the products you buy contain the organic and sustainable ingredients you know you can trust.
Buy From Companies Committed To Taking Action To Do Things Right
While many companies have put in place palm oil policies, and sometimes even voiced public commitments, action and implementation have often been lacking. Without proper action it is highly unlikely that organic, no-deforestation and no-exploitation pledges will be met.
Challenge your brands to raise their ambition levels. We need companies to be bold and want to see them make public and time-bound commitments to purchasing 100 percent organic and fully traceable oil. Brands, manufacturers and retailers who make commitments, policies and actions are going to make a difference. These actions are sending a message to upstream players that customers want to see current practices changed and that you take forest and wildlife habitat protection, and the rights of workers and communities seriously.
Support Brands & Retailers That Educate And Engage Their Customers
Shoppers are faced with a lot of information about what products to buy and what brands they can trust. With palm oil under a microscope these days and too much simplified reasoning around the complex challenges affixed to it, consumers need to rely on companies to educate and engage consumers on the topic. Most consumers don’t have the time or aren’t aware that palm oil-based ingredients are in products they use throughout the day. Education is the only way to help people understand that the shift towards “no palm” products may be more harmful than media suggests.
In 2016 we created a campaign and movement called Palm Done Right™ to prove that these products can be grown for good and bring significant positive impact to farming communities. This movement brings together brand manufacturers, retailers and consumers to increase awareness around the environmental and social benefits of palm grown organically, working with independent farmers and the ethical treatment of farm and plantation workers.
Palm Done Right highlights brands that use organic, sustainable options, as well as retailers that support the movement. Shoppers who were not aware of the pervasive presence of palm oil in their products are learning how they can exercise their influence by voting for good manufacturing practices. You spread your influence through daily purchasing decisions and by choosing brands that take their sourcing responsibilities seriously. Look for products carrying the Palm Done Right logo on your store shelves and vote with your dollar! Together, we can make a difference.
You can find the previous article here.
(Written by Monique van Wijnbergen)
Palm Done Right was developed as a platform to educate and engage consumers, brands, businesses and retailers about the positive side of palm oil. The Palm Done Right platform provides information about palm oil and its solutions, to prove palm can be grown for good. To receive our monthly email with information, advancements and stories from the field, please visit www.palmdoneright.com and sign up for our newsletter.
Tags: Asia, environments, farming, Food, organic, palm done right, palm oil, wildlife