There has been controversy over Greenpeace’s Rang-tan campaign and UK retailer Iceland Food’s holiday ‘no palm oil’ campaign and you’ve likely read about it on social media as well. The campaigns have been widely featured in the news over the last few weeks and thousands of consumers, influencers and celebrities have been eager to take their personal stance on palm oil by sharing posts and videos online, signing petitions, or calling for a boycott of the product in question.
With this sudden flurry of attention, the messages get confusing. Should you re-think the use of palm oil? Should you use it at all? As a conscious consumer that likely wants to help safeguard the planet and contribute positively to its biodiversity, these are fair questions. Yes, you should absolutely pause to think about the kind of palm oil that you are consuming, but don’t drop palm oil altogether. The solution lies in genuinely sustainable palm oil, and this is where the Palm Done Right campaign comes in…
Setting the Story Straight
1. Boycotting is not the answer.
A call to simply boycott palm oil does not convey the complexity of the issue at hand. Boycotting palm oil is not the answer to saving the environment. In fact, palm oil can even be an answer to saving the environment, as long as Palm is Done Right.
2. Sustainable palm oil is possible!
Environmentally friendly palm oil exists, and Harvest Market has just joined in the Palm Done Right campaign in order to promote a better option. Palm Done Right is organic, deforestation-free and orangutan friendly. It is available in the U.S. market already and is used by brands like Dr. Bronner, Nutiva and Jovial Foods. Boulder-based company Natural Habitats, creator of the Palm Done Right movement, brings genuinely sustainable palm oil to the market as a solution to brands and retailers that want to serve the planet. Together we can start replacing conventional, ‘dirty’ palm oil with environmentally friendly palm oil.
3. Palm oil is the most productive vegetable oil crop.
Alternative vegetable oils aren’t better, in fact, palm oil produces at least six times more oil per hectare than its closest rivals, rapeseed, and soy. Because land is one of the most limited resources on our planet, switching to an oil crop that takes up so much more land is likely to cause even greater environmental damage.
4. Environmental impact.
The conventional oil palm industry faces significant challenges including crises of deforestation and wildlife habitat loss. Further encroachment onto sensitive native forest areas should be minimized and eventually halted. However, boycotting palm oil is not the solution and is short-sighted. Boycotting palm oil will only shift deforestation and biodiversity loss to other parts of the world for the sourcing of other, less productive, vegetable oils.
Shifting the Conversation
World markets demand palm oil and that is not going to change. In order to support the vast demand for this kind of oil, the conversation must change to one of sustainable supply. In addition to campaigning against conventional ‘dirty’ palm oil, we believe we need to jointly campaign for Palm Done Right in more brands and grocery stores.
Earlier this year, Iceland Foods became the first UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all of its house brand products. Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland Foods, who has led the company’s environmental campaigning efforts said: “We have said repeatedly we are not anti-palm oil, we are anti-deforestation,” and waiting until “such a time that there is genuinely sustainable palm oil.” This is completely contrary to Swiss-based retailer COOP who publicly announced in June this year, to be taking a big step forward to also use organic palm oil in conventionally produced food for their own label products.
Research in a recent Food Navigator article showed that a portion of consumers are willing to spend more for sustainability efforts when several factors are aligned and the choice is clear: unambiguous, simple, and clearly a good thing on many fronts. For consumers that demand products made with ‘clean’ and non-controversial ingredients, sourced from non-controversial origins, Palm Done Right is the answer.
You have the power to effect change by switching to genuinely sustainable palm oil that is organic, deforestation-free and wildlife friendly. Change is possible, and we can make it happen. Join the positive movement towards sustainable palm oil and visit the Palm Done Right website to learn how you can take action now!