Ok, palm oil itself is not destroying the rainforest. There's no palm oil raining down like acid rain destroying the animals and vegetation below. But the unsustainable production of palm oil is.
Companies who harvest palm oil are causing deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia by clearing burning and clear cutting the forest. This means the natural habitat for tigers, orangutans, elephants and other animals are being destroyed. Often in these situations, the local people suffer as well. And because palm oil is actually a healthy alternative to fattier oils, coupled with the fact that Trans fats have been banned in many places, the demand for palm oil is rising.
Companies that make these products can choose to purchase sustainable palm oil, but so far this practice is the exception rather than the norm.
The World Wild Life Fund (WWF) explains:
Only 1 percent of the sustainable palm oil available on the market has been bought, raising concerns that one of the major solutions to halting deforestation of tropical forests is not catching on fast enough?
"The orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos on these islands don't stand a chance of survival if their forests aren't protected. Creating a demand for sustainably grown palm oil is essential to their survival."
There is hope however, starting with the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil led by RSPO, a non-profit that aims to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders. Also, some companies are working to purchase sustainable palm oil like Spectrum Organic. Others, like Seventh Generation, are encouraging sustainable palm oil production by purchasing sustainable palm kernel oil certification credits.
You can also do your part by supporting their efforts, and letting companies with unsavory practices know where you stand.
How You Can Encourage Sustainable Palm Oil Production
2. Let companies know you are concerned about this practice. Sample emails.
3. Purchase from companies that support sustainable palm oil production. WWF will is creating a Palm Oil Buyer Score Card.
4. Get involved —Take action against poor palm oil practices.