13 August 2009
Sustainable palm oil myth & Cadbury's "sticky mess"
We respect that each person is free to make their own informed choices, whether for example, they choose to eat meat or be vegan, or try to live an eco friendly life or not. Just like many companies are good citizens despite choosing to make environmentally-harmful products. However, should you choose to manufacture a product that is not green, you should at least have the integrity to call it what it is - and not try to 'green wash' away the grime.
Palm oil is a worrying example of this. As we posted earlier, we see many companies trying to pass palm oil off as "sustainable" on the basis that it is a plant. This is quoted from the packaging of several brands of palm wax tealights: xxx organic tealights are made from 100% vegetable palm oil, a replenishing raw material that is an environmentally friendly, natural alternative to paraffin candles.
Unfortunately, orangutans - and their jungle home that is being felled - are not "replenishing".
For opinion on whether palm oil can be sustainable, we defer to this Greenpeace article about the myth of sustainable palm oil. It is a few years old, but I believe it is still the situation (the article from NZ below also reinforces this). Having lived in Indonesia for four years, I have a healthy scepticism. In any case, it is not worth the risk. The devastating reality is what is happening in the pursuit of wealth. See below the wonderful program Orangutan Diaires on YouTube or watch it on Channel Ten, Sundays at 3:30pm.
14 May 2010: please see our latest post on sustainable palm oil as WWF is encouraging people to support Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). Also, some of the major food manufacturers have since made commitments to support sustainable palm oil.
Back to the tealights, labelling them as "organic" is also unacceptable when there is no explanation of how the palm wax was grown and processed without chemicals.
It is easy to feel disheartened by businesses getting away with pulling the wool over consumer's eyes. Even worse, that other eco stores are actually taking the claims at face value and have these candles on their shelves. But then, something happens to re-ignite the fighting spirit...when consumer power takes on a giant like Cadbury. Cadbury New Zealand recently introduced palm oil to its chocolate recipe (labelled as "vegetable fat"). There has been a huge consumer response, even the Auckland Zoo removing all Cadbury products from sale. Here is an good article from the NZ Sunday Star Times that lays out the debate Why Cadbury leaves a bitter taste
And then, watch the beautiful orangutans on YouTube...
Biome's organic skin care is all free from palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Pure and Green organic skin care is very openly palm oil free. Our mineral makeup blog compares which mineral makeup brands are palm oil free. Musq mineral makeup is 100% palm oil free.
Author & Editor
Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.