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12 Jun
  • By Oscar Glancy

HOW TO LIVE PALM OIL FREE

This blog is the second that I have done about palm oil, however the first one I did was nearly a year ago and was my first blog for Ripplezoo, and this article is a lot better informed as I know a lot more now that I did when writing my first blog. Whereas my last blog focused on the impacts of palm oil, this blog is a bit different and covers all the main ways that you can avoid palm oil in your life through the products you buy and use and eventually live a palm oil free lifestyle with lots of tips, tricks and extra info (and being palm oil free is actually a lot easier than you think). In terms of environmental importance, being palm oil free is one of the most important and effective ways to reduce your environmental impact, on the same level with things such as working to cut your carbon footprint or going vegetarian/vegan.

Personally, I have been palm oil free for the entire 15 years of my life and will always be palm oil free for the rest of my life. I have grown up palm oil free because of my parents although for them it was not because of the environmental impacts that palm oil has but mainly because of the detrimental health impacts that palm oil has on your body (If you want to learn more about the impacts that palm oil has on the environment and your health check out the update I published before this one).

Check ingredients – first of all, you will want to avoid all products that have palm oil in it, however if it does contain palm oil it isn’t usually listed as just ‘palm oil’ but hidden under lots of different names. The most common are:

Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol.

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If the product you were going to buy contains any of these above forms of palm oil simply don’t buy it and find a palm oil free alternative instead (an easy way to check if the product has palm oil without memorising all of the complicated names above is if the ingredients list has anything with ‘palm’ in it, it is almost certainly palm oil). Palm oil is now found in over 50% of products in your supermarket so it is essential that you check what you are buying as it is easy to slip and unconsciously buy something that has palm oil in it. The most common products that palm oil is found in include: pre-prepared ‘ready to eat’ foods, semi-liquid foodstuffs like sauces etc, baked goods like biscuits, and also many cosmetics such as shampoos, lipstick etc and detergents as well as so much more, these are the areas of the supermarket that you should be most wary of. Quite often if you buy higher-quality or organic produce it will be palm oil free as it tends to be the cheaper or ‘popular’ products aimed at the mass market that use it.

Cosmetics – the other main supermarket section that palm oil is found in is in cosmetics and healthcare. Palm oil is used in everything from detergents; makeup; facial and body creams; shower gels; shampoos and more. There are many alternatives available from ‘natural’ companies and even many other companies that don’t really promote themselves as being eco-friendly but don’t use palm oil all the same. Carex, a massive company that makes products like handwash was recently exposed for using conflict palm oil in their products and has not changed their supply chain yet despite lots of public pressure. The ‘popular’ brands of cosmetics are probably more likely to contain palm oil, as well as the cheaper cosmetics ranges as palm oil is the cheapest oil to produce (this is why it is so popular). Eco-friendly brands such as Ecover and Seventh Generation make products like washing-up liquids and all of these are palm-oil free, and eco-friendly companies like these often have other environmental commitments such as using recycled plastic for their bottles. For washing up powder you can switch to soap nuts (this is what my family uses) which are quite literally nuts that you put in the washing machine (in a small cloth bag, not loose or they will be destroyed by the spin cycle) and they serve the same purpose as regular washing up powder or detergent but are completely natural, eco-friendly, lather well and leave none of the chemical smells and traces on your clothing like detergents. Soap nuts can also be reused around 4-5 times before you need to refill the bag with nuts (you only need around 6 in the bag ) and they can also be quite cheap if you bulk-buy them online. Faith In Nature makes products like shampoos which are eco-friendly and work just as good as brands like Head and Shoulders, but don’t use palm oil.

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Cook more – As I have already said, palm oil found in most ready cooked meals along with a whole host of other unhealthy and environmentally-impacting ingredients. Trying to cook more and buying less pre-prepared meals or ‘oven’ and ‘microwave’ meals can hugely reduce the amount of palm oil you use. You should try to cook with fresh organic ingredients as this is healthier, tastes better and is better for the environment as the food will have been grown without pesticides. You should also try to buy locally where possible as this will have only been transported relatively short distances whereas the food you buy in supermarkets will likely have been grown in an intensive farm on the other side of the world then transported vast distances in modes of transport that pump out vast amounts of carbon dioxide. To give you an idea of how far your food can be transported, when the distances of all the ingredients your Christmas dinner travelled are added it usually comes to around 49,000 miles!!!

Say No To Palm Oil – If you wish to have a go at a palm oil free lifestyle head over to saynotopalmoil.com  (which is also a great source to learn more about palm oil) and you can on sign up for their 28 day Palm Oil Challenge in the ‘what I can do’ section. It encompasses 4 main areas of your home – Fridge, Pantry, Bathroom and Laundry and teaches you how to live a more natural, ethical and most importantly palm oil free life with recommended deforestation and palm oil free brands; food recipes and additional resources to help you learn about palm oil-free alternatives in every section of your home.

Apps – You can download an app from your app store that tells you if the product contains palm oil when you scan the barcode, which you may prefer as it is quicker than manually looking at the ingredients list. You can find this app by simply searching ‘palm oil’ within the app store.

Nutella – Certain companies use huge amounts of palm oil in their products, and if you aren’t going to take up a palm oil free lifestyle you should at least consider avoiding products like this. The most famous of these products is Nutella. Nutella is over 25% palm oil (and over 50% sugar!) and so obviously if you avoid products like this with a really high palm oil percentage this will have the biggest impact. (Please beware most own-brand chocolate spreads have similar palm oil amounts in them as well!)

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Palm Oil Investigations – there are numerous websites and social media accounts on platforms like instagram, for example @palmoilinvestigations  who as their name suggests they investigate companies and where they get their palm oil from and if the palm oil the company uses is conflict palm oil, then share their findings. You can also find more info about palm oil from groups like WWF and Greenpeace.

Petitions – there are also lots of online petitions that you can find to do with palm oil, especially on the website www.rainforest-rescue.org (or search up rainforest rescue on your web browser). If you search up ‘palm oil petitions’ you will find some more to sign on various other websites, and every signature helps so get your family and friends to sign it as well for more impact. You can also donate to various groups and organisations that are helping preserve rainforest and the animals that live in them and stop encroaching palm oil plantations, and even a small monthly donation of £5(the price of two coffees) will help. I am currently running my own palm oil petition/campaign and am calling on the supermarket Tesco to ditch palm oil from all of their own-brand products. When this blog was posted my petition was on 117,000 signatures and I am planning on taking my campaign against Tesco to the next level soon. You can sign and read more about my petition HERE.

Educate others –most consumers are unaware of the impacts that palm oil has and even what it is and why it is so bad. This is why it is your responsibility to educate others such as your friends and family about the dangers of palm oil in the hope that you will inspire others around you to also go palm oil free and so reduce the demand for palm oil even more. Even just recommending or sharing a blog, website or social media account (or my petition and the updates I have released) that talk about palm oil with someone helps and could make them reconsider their buying habits.

I hope that you have enjoyed this blog and will take something from it and try to go palm oil free as it one of the easiest and most effective ways that anyone can help the environment without making a huge change to your lifestyle. If you want to learn more about why palm oil is so bad for the environment, your health and why it has been responsible for hundreds of humans rights abuses check out my first palm oil blog from nearly a year ago HERE.