Moving Away From Palm Oil

Written by: | May 29, 2018 | 8 responses

Like many of you, we are intentionally reducing our use of palm. When we must use it, we source the most sustainable palm products available. We wanted to mention the issues with most palm products, how we source the sustainable alternatives, and highlight our concerted shift away from palm.

By now you probably know that  palm oil is considered unsustainable and that its  harvest and production have a devastating impact on our environment. But did you know that according to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production?  Further, the palm industry is linked to major environmental issues including habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty, smoke-based pollution, child-labor, indigenous rights abuses and endangering species that rely on the rainforest, including orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants and birds.  These large-scale deforestation required to grow and produce palm oil is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years.

Palm Oil and SkinCare

Palm is in many, many food and skincare products on your grocer store shelves.  For skincare, palm oil is used in three primary categories:  emulsifiers, cleansers, thickeners.  Palm oil and palm kernel oil are used in lotions, cremes, washes, serums and gels. Palm’s chemical composition includes: Palmitic Acid, Oleic Acid, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Carotenoids, Phytosterols, Lauric Acid, Capric and Caprylic Acids, and Vitamin E.

Finding quality, sustainable palm-free ingredients is, in truth, highly challenging.  Our buyers search high and low to find great palm-free options, only to find that something we were ‘told’ was coconut actually contained palm when we reviewed the technical specs, something we are rigorous about.

 

Palm Oil Harvest

Palm products in themselves are not destructive, but the method of growth and harvest is, and new land is constantly needed to plant new trees. This leads to impressively destructive deforestation as palm farmers simply burn down rainforest to clear land. This devastates habitats and burns animals, like the already endangered orangutan, alive. So the key is to halt the use of palm products, and in the meantime use responsibly-grown palms that do not require deforestation. Happily there are a few reliable sources for sustainable palm oil.

Sustainable Palm Oil

Although we are moving away from palm products as quickly as possible, the palm products and palm oil we do use are sourced from the best available options. All of our palm suppliers collaborate with Greenpeace International (one of the suppliers was voted the #1 sustainable palm oil producer) and the Forest Trust. Our palm kernel producer has also had a zero deforestation policy since 2001. In addition, our suppliers are in a select group of international NGO’s and leading producers including the WWF and Rainforest Action Network that form the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). Although perhaps not perfect, we have always striven to find the most sustainable and responsible producers.

Palm Oil Alternatives

Organic babassu oil  is a sustainable alternative for palm oil. It’s high in lauric acid and has an emollient factor similar to coconut oil, which is another good alternative. Rapeseed (brassica capestris sterols) is fabulous for skin and hair.  Organic mango and shea butters are good alternatives, as are organic jojoba oil and sunflower oil.  While we expect palm oil to remain part of the beauty industry, we want to do our part to reduce our dependence on it and help reduce beauty’s environmental footprint.

Removing Products with Palm Oil

We have been searching for palm-free alternatives to our most common ingredients and are excited to announce a broad new collection of organic, palm-free butters.  To help you in your selection, we have begun indicating every product that is palm-free on our site. This is a long process, but in the meantime you can read our ingredient decks and see if an item has any palm in it.

 

Further reading:

http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/palm_oil_innovators_group_poig_launch_statement_june2013.pdf

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