Palm Oil: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
You recycle, you buy non-animal tested products, and you care about our planet — but do you really know where your palm oil comes from? You may have heard of the controversy surrounding the production of palm oil. Palm oil is the highest consumed oil in the world. It is harvested from the pulp of the African Oil Palm tree, which although native to Africa, can be grown in any country that has tropical rainforests.
Why is it such a great oil, and why has it become the center of controversy? If you care about the environment, you should. If you’re curious about whether the palm oil in your products is eco friendly, read on to learn more about sustainable palm oil sources.
Palm oil is a fantastic super-food. In its raw state, the oil from the palm is a deep reddish orange color. Foods rich in beta carotene are naturally a deep orange color, and palm oil is full of beta carotene! It is also full of vitamins A and C, and is very high in vitamin E. It is also abundant in free-radical-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients.
When boiled, the oil takes on the more internationally known creamy color. Palm oil is stable for high heat during cooking, and has a neutral flavor. Did you know that palm oil does not require refrigeration, so it is popular in kitchens throughout Asia and Africa where there isn’t easy access to electricity or cooling units.
From a skin care perspective, sustainable palm oil is wonderful to work with. In facial and body bars, it creates a hard, long-lasting bar, that leaves skin feeling soft and supple. In cleansers it cleans and conditions without over-drying. It’s no wonder that it has become one of the most popular skin care ingredients around the world!
Over the last few years palm oil has made international news because of the way it has become farmed in areas of Borneo and Sumatra. Farmers have cleared more and more acres of land to grow the palms, and in doing so, have been destroying the habitat of many of the native animals to those regions. Animals impacted by loss of habitat include tigers, pygmy elephants, rhinoceros, and orangutans.
Orangutans, in particular, have been endangered by the destruction of habitat. Their numbers have dropped dramatically. As humans, we respond to orangutans deeply; they are very close to our DNA. They are loving, intelligent animals; even capable of communication with humans through sign language. To imagine them, and the other animals, on endangered species lists is heartbreaking.
The Ugly Truth
It is easy as consumers to say that they won’t buy palm oil anymore, or that they’ll only buy sustainable palm oil, but did you know that palm oil lurks in many products that you might be eating or using on your skin? Palm oil can be found in many foods including:
- Instant soups
- Packaged foods
In skin care it shows up as ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, creams, lotions and soaps. Here are some of the more common names found in food and cosmetics:
- Vegetable oil (usually refers to canola, corn, palm oils)
- Vegetable fat
- Palm kernel oil
- Palm fruit oil
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium kernelate
- Sodium palm kernelate
- Sodium lauroyl lactylate/sulphate
- Ethyl palmitate
- Octyl palmitate
- Palmityl alcohol
- Glyceryl stearate
- Stearic acid
- Elaeis guineensis.
Discouraged? Don’t be. There is a responsible way to enjoy the unique benefits of palm oil without worrying about harming the environment! sustainable and eco friendly palm oil are the answer.
What is Sustainable Palm Oil?
Sustainable palm oil is produced from farms located around the world that become certified, guaranteeing that they don’t harm wildlife during farming. Many of these farms are located in areas like South America, where there are no orangutans.
South America has the climate to grow the palms, but none of the endangered animals live there. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (or RSPO), founded in 2004, oversees the certification of these plantations. It is entirely possible to produce sustainable andeco friendly palm oil, without endangering animals, while caring for the natural habitat in the farming areas.
We Choose to Care
Caring for wildlife is critical, and at Ayr Skin Care, we care about animals and the environment. To ensure our products don’t harm the Earth, we refuse to support palm oil that is produced in Borneo and Sumatra, or other areas where animals and habitat is endangered. While it many bes cheaper to buy bulk ingredients like palm oil from these countries, we insist on paying more for sustainable palm oil and a protected environment.
Despite it being a little more difficult to obtain, and more expensive to produce, we only buy RSPO palm oil for our production of skin care. At Ayr Skin Care, we can see the good in palm oil, and the way that it can still be utilized with some common sense and global awareness. In our FAQ section we talk about what our priorities are for animals, nature, and our carbon footprint. We proudly display the Greener Life Club Diamond seal, which shows our commitment to this goal.
What You Can Do!
There are several organizations throughout the world, but most notably located in Asia and Australia, that work on educating people around the world of the plight of the orangutans. Organizations like WWF, BOS, and Orangutan Foundation International work on rescuing orphaned orangutan babies and caring for them. In many cases, they strive to return them to the wild. Consider donating to one of the many sites worldwide that helps care for baby orangutans.
Being aware and actively searching for sustainable palm oil products is also important. Look at labels, question companies about where they buy their palm materials from, and don’t be shy about telling your favorite restaurant about responsibly sourced palm oil. Only buy palm oil products from companies that tell you that eco friendly palm oil is a priority for them.
By speaking up and asking questions, we can continue to spread the word about helping animals and their habitat. Together we can help make a difference. Join Ayr Skin Care in making a difference today.
Bye for now!
Founder | Ayr Skin Care