Why we stay away from Palm Oil.
Here at LilyGrace Skincare we do our best to purchase ingredients which are palm oil free. There is nothing wrong with the oil itself, the issue is how palm oil is grown and produced. Palm oil has been, for many years, and continues to be a major driver of deforestation. The deforestation is of some of the world’s most bio-diverse forests, destroying habitats and putting species at risk of extinction. The loss of these forests along with the conversion of carbon rich soils, are throwing out millions of tons of greenhouse gases. This then contributes the global warming.
So, what is palm oil? This oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of palm trees, its scientific name being Elaeis Guineensis. Two kinds of oil can be produced; crude palm oil which comes from squeezing the flesh of the fruit and palm kernel oil, which comes from crushing the kernel. The palm trees that produce palm oil are native to Africa, but in the 1990s they were introduced to South East Asia as an ornamental tree. Today, Indonesia and Malaysia make up over 85% of the global supply but there are also 42 other countries that produce palm oil.
If you were to walk in your supermarket, around half of all the packaged food and items will have palm oil in it. Chips, crackers, biscuits, chocolate, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste the list goes on! And the companies who use palm oil do not have disclose it on the ingredient list, they just write ‘Vegetable Oil’. It is a semi solid oil that is easily spreadable; it has a high heat resistance; it is resistant to oxidation which improves shelf life of products and it also helps to give fried products their crispy and crunchy texture. It is also odorless and colourless.
Deforestation due to palm oil has added to the decline of many animal species including Bornean orangutans, Asian elephant, Asian rhino and Sumatran tiger. Since 1999 more than 150,000 orangutans have vanished from Borneo and more than 40,000 more could be lost in the next 35 years. Between 1999 and 2015 over half the entire population of the Bornean orangutan have disappeared, this is of course due to habitat loss because of the palm oil industry and human conflict. You may be wondering how palm oil causes this to happen? Forests are cleared for palm oil plantations, and more of this is happening all the time due to the demand of palm oil. India uses the most palm oil, 17% of the global total, followed by Indonesia, the EU and China. In 2018 consumption of palm reached around 72 million tones, or roughly 20 pounds per person. Supplying this crazy demand has taken a huge toll. Since 1973 nearly 16,000 square miles of rain forest on Borneo has been logged, burned and bulldozed to make way for palm oil.
So, what can you do to help and how can you identify palm oil? Well simply avoid palm oil when and where you can. Check the ingredients of the food you normally buy and see if palm oil is on there. Palm oil can be identified as:
- Palm oil kernel
- Anything containing the words “Palmitate” or “Palmate”
- Elaeis Gunieensis (scientific name for the oil palm plant)
- Hydrated Palm Glycerides
- Hexadecanoic or Palmitic Acid
Also check to see if the palm oil being used is certified RSPO or the Round-table of Sustainable Palm Oil. This organisation was formed in 2004 in response to the increasing concerns of palm oil use. It is a production standard that sets the best practices for producing and sourcing palm oil. The RSPO represents the largest, independent, third-party standard for the more sustainable production of palm oil. Palm oil that is RSPO Certified protects the environment and the local communities who depend on it for their livelihoods. In 2018 the RSPO was strengthened and now represents and essential toll that helps companies achieve their commitments to palm oil that is free of deforestation, exploitation and use of fire to clear land. Unfortunately, only 35% of palm growers are members of the RSPO.
The next time you go shopping for food, check to see if palm oil is in your food. I'm sure you'll be surprised!