When Little Soap Company was born, it was with the intention of ensuring we always produced high quality products using the most natural of ingredients. And not only that, but we made a commitment to the environment too, in line with my own passionate belief that we need to do all that we can to preserve and protect our planet and the animals living on it. With this in mind, we wanted to share with you our policies and explain our use of palm oil in our products.
The oils we use
The oils we use are all carefully sourced from sustainable organic plantations, and in the case of palm oil from accredited organic, RSPO-certified sustainable plantations. This does make our soaps a little more expensive than other brands, but it also means that we are able to produce the most wholesome, rich and lathery organic, natural soap possible. And we believe it’s worth it.
The whole sustainability issue is vast and because of that, we’ve teamed up with our friends at the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) to explain why and how we’re playing our part in breaking the link between palm oil and the destruction of orangutan habitat.
A vegetable oil use in many popular products, including food and cosmetics, Palm Oil is all around us. In the past it has been labeled simply as ‘vegetable oil’ but new regulations now state that manufacturers must specifically list it in ingredients. Cosmetics is, unfortunately, another thing however- but we’re hopeful the industry will follow suit. Here at Little Soap HQ we have chosen to tell our customers exactly what is in our soaps.
Palm Oil is extracted the seeds of the oil palm tree, which originates in West Africa, and is now grown around the tropics in south-east Asia, Africa, and Latin America. There are many small growers of palm oil, but it is also grown in very large plantations too, with the seeds sent to mills in the same country for processing and the resulting oil being distributed worldwide. Oil palms produce more oil per hectare of land than any other vegetable oil crop, which means it is the world’s cheapest vegetable oil, and thus the most popular for manufacturers- Indonesia and Malaysia being the top two palm oil producing countries in the world.
The problem with Palm Oil
So what’s the problem, exactly? Well, because there is such a high demand for Palm Oil, the plantations are now growing at such an alarming rate that huge areas of rainforest are being cut down to make room for them. That’s so not good. That means that vital habitats are being destroyed, eco systems are being wiped out and endangered species are being put at further risks. Animals such as the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino and Bornean and Sumatran elephant are facing serious problems, all because of the global demand for Palm Oil.
On top of this, the forests that are being destroyed also store huge amounts of carbon, and many stand on peat soils which hold massive additional carbon stocks that can be released when the forest is removed – this is bad news for the global fight against climate change.
It all make for pretty miserable reading, and the fact remains that forest conversion is not even an essential element of the industrial production of palm oil. It can easily be grown on ‘degraded’ and non-forest land, but forests are still falling because the government and companies can benefit from establishing new plantations in areas of rainforest.
You might wonder then, why we don’t boycott Palm Oil. If we did this, two things could happen. Firstly we would contribute towards a rise in demand for land to grow alternative vegetable oil crops, to replace the demand for palm oil. This could lead to even more destruction of the precious forests. Secondly, a boycott could mean that the price of palm oil would drop, thus increasing demand in other ares of the world and for further uses.
Boycotting palm oil is not the answer. Instead, we want to play our part in transforming the industry. We’re a small company but we want to add our voice to the growing call for palm oil companies to produce responsible palm oil, and stop clearing forests. Many companies around the world have made zero-deforestation commitments, and we are reaching a tipping point where demand for responsible palm oil will drive big changes in the way the oil is produced.
We’ve pledged to use only organic, certified sustainable palm oil in our products, which means that the palm oil has been produced without harming the rainforests that orangutans and so many other species depend on for their survival.
We recognise that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the body that oversees certified sustainable palm oil, is not perfect. The Sumatran Orangutan Society and others are working hard to make it as strong a standard as possible, and by supporting SOS, and insisting that our suppliers source palm oil only from traceable plantations that have not contributed to deforestation, we can be confident that our business and our customers are helping to keep forests standing and orangutans and other wildlife safe.
Find out more about the Sumatran Orangutan Society here.