Palm oil is found in a great many products we use every day, from edible items such as margarine and chocolate, to soaps, cosmetics and even fuel. It is one of the most widely exported products in the world – but what is palm oil, and why is it important to choose only ethical sources?
What is Palm Oil?
Originally derived from the palm fruit of Western Africa, palm oil is a form of vegetable oil. It is found in around 50% of all household products used in developed countries and is grown in several countries and continents including Asia, Africa and North America. Palm oil production accounts for around 55% of the world’s oil and fats trade.
Palm Oil and the Environment
The production of palm oil can have a horrific effect upon the environment, local wildlife and communities. All three have been ravaged by unsustainable palm oil development.
Palm oil plantations have been linked to human rights violations including child labor and damage to land designated for indigenous peoples. Thousands of different species have been declared as under threat from the unsustainable palm oil trade, with thousands more killed by deforestation as a result of palm oil expansion. The access roads developed to transport palm oil from forest areas has been cited as a major contributing factor to poaching, allowing easier access to endangered species. The United Nations have declared the environmental damage done in the name of the palm oil trade a conservation emergency, as well as encouraging new and emerging solutions to make palm oil a more harmonious, environmentally friendly product.
Moving Towards Sustainability
The RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) was formed in 2004 promoting moves towards supporting sustainable palm oil development. A non-profit organization which supports all those involved in the palm oil trade – from producers right through to retailers – the RSPO seeks to establish internationally recognized standards for harvesting sustainable palm oil. Many believe the RSPO greatly contributes towards lessening the damage caused by unethical practice within the palm oil industry.
At Reverie Farms & Soaps, we use only ethically-sourced, sustainable palm oil when creating all of our organic natural soaps. As a family-run business with sustainability at its very heart, we believe in transparency and ethical best practice – meaning you can be sure all our products are 100% cruelty free!