Did you know that the Bornean orangutan population has decreased by half since 1999?
Or that a new species of orangutan discovered in Sumatra in 2017 is already endangered?
It probably won’t come as a surprise that human consumption of palm oil is to blame and, sadly this is on the increase. I honestly didn’t know that palm was as prevalent in pretty much everything we buy until I read the last issue of Ethical Consumer magazine and did a bit of research for this blog post.
What Is Palm Oil?
“Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. … In total, tens of millions of tons of palm oil is produced annually, accounting for over 30% of the world’s vegetable oil production.” – Say No To Palm Oil
Palm oil was identified as a problem commodity almost 20 years ago. During this time, so many initiatives have tried, and failed, to find a way to solve the problem. You’ll probably have noticed in the news recently that companies such as Iceland are announcing an intention to ban palm oil from own-brand products from 2020. (To me, this suggests that so-called “sustainable palm oil” can’t be an ethical option, or surely companies would just switch?)
In 2014, the EU used over 7000 metric tonnes of palm oil and there was an increase in palm oil was being used for biodiesel. 45% of the total amount of palm oil used went towards this, with 15% on energy and the remaining 40% on food, feed and industrial use.
Why Palm Oil Is A Problem For Orangutans
Palm oil is the greatest threat to orangutans because their habitats are being destroyed to produce it. We lose 25 orangutans every day.
Animals including orangutans are injured, killed or displaced when deforestation occurs. Deforestation also increases the accessibility to wildlife smugglers and poachers, creating an additional threat. Mother orangutans are often killed so that their babies can be taken away and sold as pets or as entertainment for tourists.
What You Can Do To Help
This week, Greenpeace released an animated video which I urge you to watch and share using #SaveRangtan and #StopDirtyPalmOil. There is also a petition you can sign calling for action on deforestation.
As well as sharing this video, some more actions you can take include:
- Consider joining Greenpeace, or another organisation, to help them in their vital work.
- Avoid products that contain palm oil.
- Be an activist – we all have a voice and you can use yours to raise awareness.
- Pre-order a copy of the book to accompany the Greenpeace video and share it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy and pay postage costs only. My daughters love theirs.
I’d love to know what you think of the Greenpeace video, let me know in the comments!
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