The real impact of the exceedingly popular ingredient palm oil is becoming increasingly known, for the worst reason possible: orangutans are going extinct. As consumers, we can avoid buying products that contain palm oil and that certainly makes a difference, but real change has to come from the top as well.
In the last 16 years, almost 60 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed because of the demand for palm oil, Greenpeace reports. This huge loss of rainforest directly impacts the animals who are literally losing their home and witnessing its destruction. In those same 16 years, the population of orangutans plunged from 250,000 to less than 100,000.
Huge global brands Unilever, Mondelez, and Nestlé use palm oil because it is cheaper to grow than many others and has a long shelf life. However, this perfect fat is driving countless species, such as the Sumatran tiger and rhino, Pygmy elephant, orangutan, and more straight to extinction. On top of this, clearing rainforests to make room for palm plantations releases an enormous amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change, and makes forests less able to clean air and support a healthy ecosystem. The palm oil industry also causes displacement of indigenous peoples who live in forests. Palm oil companies have been found to coerce communities into selling their land sometimes for as little as a shocking one dollar a hectare, the Guardian reports. In return, communities are promised new schools and homes – which are never really built. Palm oil can be found in about 50 percent of consumer goods, and while it might be cheap for companies, it’s clear it costs the planet a lot.Click here to sign Greenpeace’s Care2 petition urging big companies to stop using palm oil produced in a way that destroys forests and contributes to species loss and displacement of indigenous peoples!
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