It’s hidden in nearly half of packaged goods on store shelves and has likely made its way into your pantry. Palm oil is everywhere and it’s a major source of deforestation, carbon emissions, and biodiversity loss. It devastates the lives of orangutans and displaces indigenous populations.
One way to address the environmental threats from palm oil production is to boycott products made with it. Although it may take some digging to make sure you’re not supporting the destruction of orangutan habitats, purchasing palm oil–free products will help save the planet and allow Indonesia’s endangered orangutans to live peaceful lives in the treetops of Sumatra and Borneo’s rainforests.
In response to consumer concerns, some companies have boasted better sourcing practices and now adopt the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification on its products. The certification informs consumers that such companies are working with environmentally and socially responsible palm oil producers. The RSPO has certified up to 14 percent of the world’s palm oil production.
But, can RSPO-certified palm oil truly be sustainable?
Sinar Mas Group, an Indonesian conglomerate with palm oil subsidiaries, is a member of RSPO. This company is also actively engaging in illegal deforestation and burning peatlands in Indonesia, proving that RSPO membership alone is not enough to validate the sustainability credentials of a company.
RSPO standards are falling short of its vision by not barring “secondary” forests and peatland clearings in the production of palm oil. Greenhouse gas emissions, such as the carbon emitted from peatland clearings, are not included in the standards. This allows companies to release huge amounts of carbon emissions into the air and still meet RSPO standards.
There has been some debate over whether RSPO-certification works or if it’s just “greenwash”, another way for palm oil-sourcing companies to create the illusion of sustainability and make big bucks from consumers like us.
Click Next for the List of Products
1. Earth Balance Vegan Butter
“Palm Fruit Oil” is included in the Natural Oil Blend ingredient listed on Earth Balance vegan butter. Earth Balance states that 70 percent of its palm oil comes from responsible sources in Malaysia, who are also RSPO members. The company purchases the other 30 percent of palm oil from plantations in Brazil, which are not stated as “sustainable” or “responsible” sources.
2. Justin’s Nut Butters
“Organic Palm Fruit Oil” and “Palm Fruit Oil” are listed as ingredients in all of Justin’s nut butters. The company uses palm fruit oil because it minimizes oil separation in its products, which it says consumers prefer. Justin’s sources its palm oil from a sustainable Brazilian farm. The vegan nut butters with palm oil include Chocolate Almond Butter, Vanilla Almond Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Classic Almond Butter, Classic Peanut Butter, and Maple Almond Butter.
3. Tofutti Vegan Ice Cream & Cheeses
Tofutti markets its Premium Pints as the first non-dairy frozen dessert sold in supermarkets. However, the ice cream pints contain palm oil. The flavors with palm oil include Vanilla Almond Bark, Chocolate, Better Pecan, Vanilla Fudge, Vanilla, and Wild Berry Supreme. Tofutti’s Yours Truly Cones contain palm oil in the cone’s chocolate crunch and Tofutti Cuties may contain palm oil in its sandwiches. Its cheese products, including cream cheese and sour cream, also contain palm oil. The company doesn’t list its palm oil sourcing.
4. CLIF Builder’s & Luna Bars
CLIF Builder’s Bars contain “Palm Kernel Oil.” The company uses USDA-certified organic palm kernel oil and its palm oil suppliers are RSPO members. The CLIF Bar & Company produces LUNA bars, which also contains palm kernel oil.
5. Against the Grain Cookies
6. Liz Lovely Cookies
7. MaraNatha No-Stir Organic Nut Butters
The company’s No-Stir Organic Peanut Butter and Almond Butter contain “organic palm oil” for the same reason Justin’s nut butters include it. It’s to prevent oil separation in its products, so that the nut butters do not need to be stirred. MaraNatha does not list its palm oil sourcing.
8. Glow Gluten Free Cookies
Glow cookies might be gluten-free, but they all contain “organic palm oil.” The company does not list its palm oil sourcing.
In order to help stop rainforest destruction and the devastating effects of palm oil production, be conscious of your purchases and share your concerns with palm oil-sourcing companies.
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