Every hour 300 football fields of rainforest are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.
Grown in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, North and South America, 85 percent of palm oil production happens in Indonesia and Malaysia, where a third of all mammals are on the verge of extinction thanks to deforestation.
Palm oil accounts for 30% of the world’s vegetable oil and is found in 40 to 50% of household products in developed countries, including baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste.
Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last 10 years and is expected to double again by 2050.
The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses.
The clearing of critical rainforest ecosystems to make way for monoculture palm plantations threatens orangutan extinction within 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The orangutan is a keystone species that plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem. For example, many rainforest seeds can only germinate once passed through their guts.
As palm oil gains a bad reputation, manufacturers are labeling the ingredient under many names. Here’s a list provided by the WWF:
1. Elaeis guineensis
2. Etyl palmitate
4. Hydrogenated palm glycerides
5. Octyl palmitate
6. Palm fruit oil
7. Palm kernel
8. Palm kernel oil
9. Palm stearine
12. Palmitic acid
13. Palmitoyl oxostearamide
14. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
15. Palmityl alcohol
17. Sodium kernelate
18. Sodium laureth sulfate
19. Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate
20. Sodium lauryl sulfate
21. Sodium palm kernelate
23. Stearic acid
24. Vegetable fat
25. Vegetable oil
For more sustainable palm oil, you can look for the labels: “RSPO” or ” Rainforest Alliance.” The next best label is “Green Palm,” which indicates palm production transition to more sustainable methods.