Whether you’re new to Little Soap or whether you’ve been around for a whole (thank you!) , chances are you’ve heard ‘rumblings’ palm oil usage around the world in recent years. You may even be wondering why we use palm oil in our products- and we’re glad that you’re raising questions about the issue! This year’s World Animal Day took place on the 4th October, with a renewed mission to ‘raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards across the globe’- and it led us to thinking. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of raising awareness of the plight of the Sumatran Orangutan- so we decided to put a post together explaining the two reasons why we use sustainable palm oil here at Little Soap. Please do get in touch if you have any questions!
A quick refresher on palm oil and the problem with it all…
Before we start, and in case you’re new around here (hello!), we thought we’d share a really quick refresher on what exactly palm oil is.
Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is used in a lot of day-to-day products including food and cosmetics. Around half of the packaged food products in an average supermarket may contain palm oil. It used to be often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, but following the Clear Labels, Not Forests campaign led by SOS, all food packaging in Europe now has to list it specifically in their ingredients. There is no such requirement for the labelling of cosmetics and other products yet, but we choose to let our customers know exactly what is in our products.
Palm oil is very cheap and very versatile. This means that more and more people want to use it in their products. So demanding is growing, plantations are expanding and huge areas of rainforest are being cut down to make way for them. These areas are often vital habitat for endangered species such as the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino and Bornean and Sumatran elephant. The forests 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 – bad news for the global fight against climate change.
Forest conversion is not an essential element of the industrial production of palm oil – it can be grown on ‘degraded’ and non-forest land, but forests are still falling as the government and companies can benefit from establishing new plantations in areas of rainforest, such as through selling the timber from logged areas before setting up the new plantation.
So with this in mind, why do we choose not to boycott the use of palm oil here at Little Soap?
1. There would be a big rise in demand for land to grow other vegetable oil crops to replace the demand for palm oil – all agriculture has a footprint and this could lead to even more precious forests being lost.
2. The price of palm oil could drop, actually increasing demand in other areas of the world such as India and China, and for uses such as biofuels.
Rather than boycotting the use of palm oil, here at Little Soap we choose to play our part in helping to transform the industry instead. We’re just 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.
Little Soap Company has 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 do 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.