Sunday, August 9, 2009

Suds of Sustainability

sustainability (n.): the means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in the very long term.

I have used palm oil in nearly every batch of soap i've made over the years. While reordering soap supplies I ran across some alarming information regarding palm oil and could not turn a blind eye. Not only are skyrocketing prices starving the people of many developing countries, the orangutan is being slaughtered by our thirst for this oil.

Over the last few years palm oil prices have jumped 70% due to demand, but the supply for palm oil is only slowly increasing. It takes 8 years for a palm tree to be mature enough to produce the fruit which yields the oil. Therefore many farmers and plantation companies are clearing hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical forest to plant additional palms. This tropical forest is (was) the home to many of our nearest relatives...the Orangutan. Did you know Orangutans share approximately 97.8% of our DNA and express a range of emotions that is just as wide as our own?

Here's a quote from the article listed below: "The palm oil and timber industries are guilty of truly horrific ecological atrocities, one of which is the systematic genocide of orangutans. When the forest is cleared, adult orangutans are generally shot on sight. In the absences of bullets they are beaten, burned, tortured, mutilated and often eaten as bushmeat."

So you ask "What can I do?"

1) If you make soap use a supplier that is part of the RSPO- the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Thanks to JoAnna who researched this information- Soaper's Choice/Columbus Foods offers an organic palm oil that is sustainably harvested. This is my new palm oil supplier!

2) Choose soap (handmade or commercially made), make up and food companies that use suppliers who are part of the RSPO. Unilever and L'Oreal are a few. When in doubt ask them!

3) Educate yourself. While this topic is not without controversy, educate yourself and make a stand. It's not okay to bar of soap won't affect anything, because in the end it absolutely does and already has.

A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories

The Other Oil Shock

The Struggle for Palm Oil

Orangutans and palm oil: What's the connection?

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