There is a lot of talk about using and finding sustainable palm oil. At first, I wasn't really sure why. You may not know either so I'll just touch on some of what people are going on about that you may or may not be aware of.
I quote from this article: "Orangutans and palm oil: What's the connection?"
The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places on Earth where these gentle, intelligent creatures live. The cultivation of palm oil over the last decade has directly led to the slaughter of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of old-growth rain forest. The UNEP estimates that an area of Indonesian rain forest the size of six football fields is cut down every minute of every day. 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 absence of bullets they are beaten, burned, tortured, mutilated and often eaten as bush meat.
If this is all true, I am sick.
After I read this, I started making soaps without palm, and honestly, the soaps just weren't as nice. I began my search for sustainable palm because I knew it was out there, but honestly, it wasn't easy to find!
I first went to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is the International organization of producers, distributors and others that promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil. I poked around, and it was very confusing to actually find a supplier. If anyone from there reads this.... Make it REALLY easy to find a palm oil supplier so this change occurs faster!
I was in touch with Mike Lawson of Soaper's Choice/Columbus Foods (fantastic company, fantastic guy!), and their organic palm oil is sustainably harvested. Mike conveyed this to me:
"Regarding your question of sustainable palm production, our Organic palm is from South America, grown in a mixed species environment with legume under story to provide nitrogen specific plants to host, and feed beneficial insects. Residue from the oil pressings is also returned to the groves to provide nutrients. The farm is in a region of the Amazon that was cleared by previous owners 30-40 years ago, and the reestablishment of a forest crop has brought back many species of birds and other plants and animals. While not as diverse as native Rain forest, it is a vast improvement over grasslands. All our conventional Palm suppliers are members of RSPO as well.We are conscious of where we purchase our oils, and will continue to seek conscientious growers, and producers."
Mike assured me that the organic palm had certification of its sustainability in addition to its membership with RSPO.
So instead of eliminating palm from your recipes, just change your buying habit. If we all make the change, maybe WE can make the difference.
Please link back to this posting if you have a blog about soap, so we can educate and end the destruction of more animals. Thank you.