Palm oil, climate change and a trek to make a difference

In Australia, palm oil is everywhere and it can be tricky to spot on a label. It can be found in around 50% of packaged supermarket products and the environmental effects of this are devastating.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. These trees can only be grown within 10 degrees north or south of the equator, these areas approximately 85 percent of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, much of it at the expense of forests.

The Union of Concerned Scientists explain the link between climate change and Palm Oil.

When tropical forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations, carbon is released into the atmosphere
as carbon dioxide (CO2 ), the gas that is the leading cause of climate change; tropical deforestation accounts for about
10 percent of total global warming emissions (UCS 2013).

Indonesia was the world's seventh-largest emitter of global warming pollution in 2009, and deforestation accounted for about 30 percent of these emissions (WRI 2013). Indeed, for that same year Indonesia ranked second (behind Brazil) in the amount of global warming pollution it produced because of deforestation (WRI 2013).

It's estimated that 98% of Indonesian forest will be gone in 9 years due to palm oil plantations.

The ubiquity of palm oil in our household products and food means this issue goes straight to the heart of 1 Million Women is all about. Women make over 85% of consumer decisions that affect household carbon footprint, by making sure we avoid palm oil whenever and wherever possible we can make take action against the dangerous palm oil industry.

Here are some tips to cut palm oil out of your life thanks to 1MW contributor, Hannah Colless.

Eat wholefoods. Boycott packaged food as much as humanly possible. Once upon a time, people would be able to see every ingredient in their meals – vegetables, meat, nuts etc. Fast food and the pre-packaged food has led us down a dark path where many of us consume all sorts of unhealthy, unethical, barely edible products on a daily basis. The simplest thing to do is eat real food.

Choose products that contain clearly labelled oils, such as 100-percent sunflower oil, corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil or canola oil. Palm oil is often disguised as 'vegetable oil'.

Avoid ingredients with the word palm in it including palmitate, palmitoyl, or simply palm. These will all contain palm oil.

Google it – if you're unsure of whether a product contains palm oil Google the product followed by the words 'palm oil' and often you can find the answer in a few clicks.

Check the saturated fat percentage. If more than 40% of a products fat content is of the saturated variety, it most likely contains palm oil.

You can also check out the Palm Oil Investigations website and click here to download an up-to-date list of alternative names for palm oil.


Want to learn more about where palm oil comes from?

1 Million Women is going on a jungle adventure to discover the majesty and mysticism of Sumatra's last remaining tropical rainforest and YOU can JOIN us!

Trek the jungle by day, camp under the stars at night & learn so much from the local women and environment. Highlights also include spending a day at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, to learn how they are acting to prevent habitat loss.

Get more info – Click here

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