Whether it be a holiday or any other excuse to purchase candies and chocolate, it is important to know exactly what you’re sinking your teeth into. The production of many familiar chocolates involves significant amounts of palm oil. Palm oil is a form of edible vegetable oil produced from the African oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) which has been planted on plantations throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, home to some of the world’s most endangered wildlife. Because of the increasing demand for palm oil across the globe, millions of acres of rainforest in Sumatra and Borneo are continually cleared in order to plant and later harvest this ingredient. This destruction of rainforest has resulted in an immense loss of habitat for species like the orangutan.
Luckily, an organization called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) recognized this issue and established guidelines in order to promote and educate both producers and consumers on the necessity of sustainable palm oil production. The RSPO offers various certifications for growers that are only awarded after a number of criterion have been met. By employing these certifications, businesses can now identify with the public and other businesses as an organization that believes in producing sustainable palm oil. The collective efforts of the certified are examples of how even large businesses can be an environmental steward. For more details on the RSPO and their certification process, visit their website.
To make a difference, all you need is a little bit of knowledge and a keen eye. By looking for and purchasing palm oil free products, or products produced by members of the RSPO, we can reduce the demand and slow the staggering rate of habitat loss. Here is a fantastic graphic that can serve as a great palm oil shopping guide.
For more information, please visit our website at http://www.houstonzoo.org/palm-oil/