My family has always called me a tree hugger... I've always cared about animals and the environment. When I first learned to make soap, the recipe that was used contained palm oil. I started making and selling soap using this recipe. Everyone loved how it lathered. So you're wondering how this conflicts with being concerned for the environment. Well... read on to find out!
Palm oil is made from oil palms and is one of the most widely used oils in the world. You find palm oil in a large variety of products from soaps and personal care items to foods. Because it is so popular, there is a greater need for it and rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia are being destroyed to make room for oil palm plantations. These rainforests are home to the endangered orangutans and this habitat loss is not helping their endangered status!
I had no idea that there was a connection between palm oil and rainforest destruction. So... what to do? What to do? Do I change my formula for my soap and possibly not have a product that people would like? Or is there an alternative? Thankfully there is an alternative that is good for soap and good for the rainforests and orangutans!
In 2004 the Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed and included groups from all ends of palm oil use: the producers of palm oil, traders, manufacturers, and other non-governmental organizations. Their job was to develop global standards for sustainable palm oil production and part of this was to work towards zero deforestation.
Are you seeing the connection yet? I looked for palm oil that was RSPO and found that it was expensive! Then I found some at one of the suppliers I use. I was so excited to find that it was reasonably priced and that it was from sustainable farming practices that helped to preserve the rainforests. Large companies have also made the commitment to use palm oil that is sustainable. These include: Hershey's, Krispy Crème, Kellogg's, Johnson and Johnson, and many more! Is the system perfect? No. But it's a start and it makes me feel better about using palm oil in my soaps.
Want to know more about palm oil and RSPO? Here's a link to an informative article from "National Geographic"