You may not be aware that the palm oil industry is causing rapid destruction of crucial rainforests. Palm oil is less expensive than many other oils and is found in car fuel, cleaning products, cosmetics and many processed foods. Palm oil is made from the fruit of trees called African Oil Palms. As the industry has ballooned, the demand for these trees is causing widespread devastation of rain forests.
Every year growers burn large amounts of forests in tropical regions in order to clear land for more and more of these trees, destroying fragile ecosystems and creating high levels of carbon dioxide and soot. During the “burn season” extremely dangerous air pollution is caused in Malaysia and Indonesia, the source of 90% of palm oil production. Other tropical areas, like New Guinea, Nigeria, and Cameroon, are predicted to become more heavily invested in palm oil, even further endangering our planet.
What can we do? Check the label and avoid palm oil when possible, or seek to purchase “certified sustainable palm oil.” Consumer pressure is the only thing that will make producers consider more sustainable practices. Also support organizations that seek to reduce the destruction of rainforests such as Wildlife Conservation Society or World Wildlife Fund (WWF). We can make a difference.