The Scary Side Effects of Palm Oil

The beloved orangutan is now facing its biggest threat to its existence.

Orangutan (Image Source: National Geographic),,, crowd ink, crowdink
Orangutan (Image Source: National Geographic)

Orangutans are a primate loved and adored by many. Their famous orange fur and human-like characteristics make them a crowd favourite for many. But will we still be enjoying our fellow primates in 20, 10 or even 5 years’ time?

Deforestation threats have been lingering above the consciences of many for years, but little has been done to help this. Unfortunately, we are at a point where we may not be able to ignore it for much longer.

You may have heard, in recent times, about a particular ingredient found in foods that many are exposing. This product is palm oil, and it has not only resulted in mass deforestation, but it’s also found in a large number of popular food, cleaning and cosmetic products.

Orangutans, who live exclusively in forests of Sumatra and Borneo, are today under major threat of losing their home entirely. And, since recent exposure to information suggests they could be extinct within 5-10 years, there has been a huge push for companies that are directly responsible for the endangerment to own up.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a natural vegetable oil that is exclusive to the fruit found on African palm tree. The tree is grown in large masses throughout Africa, Asia and America and, as a result, has lead to both cultural and environmental tensions.

Palm oil plantations have great ethical concerns due to the immense space needed to clear to make way for them. This land is taken from homes of local fauna, leaving them hurt, homeless and even dying. The unethical plantations have already resulted in a scarily low drop in population of animals including the Sumatran Tiger, and, of course, orangutans, with a critically low number meaning predictions of extinctions within a few years.

Many of you would prefer to not be condoning the extinction of native animals, but unfortunately, palm oil is not labelled on its products. Many companies enjoy palm oil regularly, but there has, as of yet, been no legal obligation for them to indicate it. The number of brands using palm oil is hefty, and it only makes it worse that customers can’t easily find out.

Today, many are urging that Australia initiate mandatory labelling for palm oil products, as this problem certainly won’t be just disappearing. Ministers of Australia and NZ are currently discussing the mandatory labelling, and there is hope that the change won’t be employed too late.

What can I do about it?

Without the ease of knowing what exactly supplies palm oil and what doesn’t, it can be incredibly difficult to boycott the product. The best you can do for now is to do your research on brands, find out what they use and speak up to friends, family and even the brands themselves.

For starters, is a fantastic site for information on palm oil, with product knowledge, information on labels that condone the use of palm oil and tips on removing it completely from your pantry, fridge and laundry.

So check out the site, and let’s work with what we have to fight the extinction of some of the most beloved animals alive.