Here at Pink&Green SkincareHQ we’ve been watching David Attenborough’s Netflix series, Our Planet. For the uninitiated, the series both celebrates the natural world and highlights some of the challenges it faces. And they are huge.
We’re most of us trying to cut down our single use plastics and recycle and re-use more of everything. Yet it’s arguable we face bigger issues with overplanting of palm oil – and other crops – to meet global demand. Though oil palm tree planting is far from our only crime it’s a big one.
The demand for palm oil is so huge because, as Dr Emma Keller from the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) points out: ‘Palm oil is in close to half of the products we buy in the supermarkets. It’s in everything from shampoos and soaps, to pizzas and biscuits. It’s everywhere.’
NB: Here at Pink&Green Skincare we do not use palm oil in any of our products.
You wouldn’t have thought planting trees would be bad would you? Well – it depends how you plant them. That’s what leads to problems. According to this blog from Ecosia at any rate. They tell how Indonesia has seen over 25% of its rainforests deforested and replaced with huge palm oil plantations.
Why is palm oil considered a bad thing for the environment?
Because, according to the Ecosia blog, in such man-made monocultures, local wildlife can’t thrive. What’s more the palm tree’s roots soak up gallons of water and destroy the soil. Thus, some environmentalists argue that the farming of oil palm trees is a BIG BAD THING INDEED.
There is though a different view. This palm oil forum blog argues that, challenges accepted, growing oil palms is not a bad thing in and of itself. After all, as it points out:
- The oil palm has the highest yield of any oil plant
- It’s the only crop that yields two different oils that are useful to industry: palm oil and kernel oil
- Oil palms occupy the smallest proportion of all the land used for oil and fat production. Yet it accounts for the largest proportion of worldwide oil production: 32%
- Sunflowers, coconut and soybeans all have a per hectare yield that averages at a mere one-third of palm oil.
Ergo, as the blog goes on to argue, doing a simple swap of palm oil for other vegetable oils would:
- Not have the desired effect and
- Would simply, at best, displace the problem and, more likely, – make it worse.
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
As with so many things in life, simply not doing it isn’t the answer. Rather seek ways to do it better. And the aforementioned blog does talk about solutions and options. Because, as they point out, the production of palm oil is not all about us. It matters to the economies of producer countries. The international palm oil trade brings them valuable foreign currency and many jobs – often in rural and structurally weak regions.
The Attenborough Effect
Returning now to national treasure, Richard Attenborough and his TV series – both on Netflix and terrestrial TV. Evidence suggests that his message is getting through. This article from Plant Based News, on the Attenborough effect on single use plastic cites Sir David as being a possible influence on a significant drop in the single-use plastic. It goes to quote market researcher, GlobalWebIndex as saying 53 percent of participants claim they’ve reduced their use of disposable plastic in the last year.
‘Sustainability isn’t just another buzzword’
It further went on to say that, ‘in the UK, 82 percent of participants considered it important to purchase products with sustainable packaging in order to be less wasteful.’
It’s clear that managing these varying pressures is no small hurdle for manufacturers and brands of all sizes. As they say – sustainability is more than another buzzword. Our consumers do care and expect more – all the time. Which leads to the question: what is Pink&Green doing? This is what:
As a company we’re pledging to support the WWF with various initiatives.
For example, with £10 we can buy forty seedlings for rain forests, choose to donate an amount monthly, adopt an animal, change our lifestyle. We’ll keep you informed as we support them.
We all have a role to play in the fight for wildlife, people and the planet.