For the last few years, around Halloween and Easter, we’ve updated you on candy companies committed to using certified sustainable palm oil (see our latest flyer below!). Palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the African and South American oil palm tree. Today, it’s found in about half the products sold in grocery stores, everything from cookies to toothpaste. The production of palm oil has ravaged habitats across the globe, especially in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. To create plantations to grow more palm trees, essential rainforest habitat is destroyed, leaving animals like orangutans and tigers without homes.
Thanks to efforts from concerned consumers and organized groups, such as the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), companies are changing their ways and beginning to use sustainably harvested palm oil. What does it mean when a company uses sustainable palm oil? The company is harvesting its palm oil from plantations that are certified by the RSPO. According to RSPO, “One of the most important RSPO criteria states no primary forests, or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.”
Here are a few tips to help you when shopping:
- Read labels. Look for the RSPO trademark to see if the palm oil in the product is certified sustainable.
- Download the Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping App from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It allows you to scan product barcodes to determine if the company is “excellent,” “good,” or “needs improvement” in sustainable palm oil harvesting. Available in iTunes or Google Play.
- Download the RSPO app. It provides lists of products with sustainable palm oil. It also has a geo-location function that will help you find products near you, and will upload information about products at your local store. Available in iTunes or Google Play.
- If you don’t see the RSPO trademark and you can’t find the product on either app, check out the ingredients. Sometimes palm oil may be listed under other names. If you see one of these ingredients, and haven’t found any information on how the product uses sustainable palm oil, it probably is not sustainable.
- PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
- FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil
- OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
- Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate
- Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
- Elaeis Guineensis
- Glyceryl Stearate
- Stearic Acid
- Steareth -2
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
- Hydrated palm glycerides
- Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye
We realize there are many issues to think about when shopping, but buying products with sustainable palm oil is a good place to start. As a conservation organization, the plight of rainforests and their inhabitants is critically important to us, and educating our guests is one way we work towards our mission of conserving wildlife and inspiring a passion for nature. We encourage you to do your research and educate your friends and family, too, on sustainable palm oil!
(Learn more about how you can be a part of Dallas Zoo’s Green Team.)
Below is a list of treats made with certified sustainable palm oil that help protect the homes of rainforest wildlife.