A hard hitting article with facts and figures re Palm Oil and it’s derivatives.
By Barry Forrester, EVOHE Founder
Meg and I attempt to live an organic lifestyle. We own and run our organic holistic skin care company and with this entity we provide for ourselves, contribute to the lives of those around us and plan for our future.
Our goal is conscious consumption from manufacturer – to – consumer and beyond. To live a sustainable life, and contribute to/produce for the general well-being of ourselves and all those with whom we share our earth.
I could talk for days about the intricacies of the skin care industry and its many ingredients, both metaphorical and physical. To narrow it down, our most important ingredients are consciousness, love and honesty.
Here is the honest part…
True skin care is holistic, internal and emotional. The epidermis is our largest organ; it reacts, and reflects our physical and emotional wellbeing, or lack there-of. Driven by lifestyle, hormonal and emotional swings, and diet, there is no quick fix and there is no real anti-ageing solution provided by applying creams and lotions.
Glycerine, paraffin, heavy vegetable waxes, synthetic preservatives, fixatives and stabilisers and minute quantities of actives do little or nothing to care for your skin. These are the most commonly used ingredients in skin care, along with water aloe-vera and vegetable gums. These ingredients have been associated with anti-ageing and numerous other ‘miraculous’ qualities. It wasn’t until the concept of green washing became apparent, that these ‘natural’ ingredients become criticised. In the face of such outrageous claims these ingredients are in fact ageing, and in many cases damaging to the skin and internal organs.
There is a growing awareness amongst consumers as generations gain a more realistic technological, scientific and spiritual understanding of our place in the universe. As such, the consumer is evolving. They are less likely to believe the glossy slogans of miraculous youth giving potions touted by those that would profit from our misplaced trust. They are asking questions and becoming informed.
Business is evolving, and ethical corporations are becoming a reality. Giving back to the community, as much or more than they take from it, are thriving in business and greedy, unethical, and often criminal corporations are failing because of their need for power. This new generation of business feels a deep responsibility, not just to the consumer, but to all those who inhabit this planet. For the first time in human history, by not placing our existence above that of all other life forms, enables them to better operate with equilibrium.
We modern western humans are very busy, often too busy to learn much beyond that which confronts us in our daily routines. Our version of survival as we know it has become work, registering the car, taking kids to the footy, watching TV, eating cake, gym ectera consumes our days, meanwhile the consequences of our actions dissipates into the unconsciousness of a distant jungle.
Imagine this if you will…
God (any God will do) taps you on the shoulder, and whispers in your ear, “you alone,” she says, “have the power to save the Great Barrier Reef from extinction. All you must do to save the greatest living organism in the universe is to stop eating processed sugar.” “But,” she goes on… “you must never speak a word of this to any other human or the action will be reversed ten-fold.” “Ok,” you say, “I’ll do it, and I’ll not tell a soul.”So you do it, you stop eating processed sugar.
Miraculously, by your action the reef is saved! You alone have saved the greatest living organism on the planet by this one simple act. You feel empowered, euphoric, you have achieved a truly great thing and you can’t stop grinning. Then you notice something a little odd, every-one else seems to be in a similar mood! But of course, God has had this same conversation with every other person on the planet. You understand then the great power to make change that is in your thoughts and in your hands.
Sugar is but one example though, of a substance that we abuse without considering the consequences of our consumption. Palm is now the most traded vegetable oil crop in the world, after soy, and over 90% of the world’s palm oil exports are produced in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The growing of palm plantations in South East Asia is reducing our planets ability to absorb Co2 and produce oxygen and driving its inhabitants to extinction. Unlike sugar, most of us are not aware when or how often we consume or use palm. This makes the problem almost invisible unless you go to these places to witness the absolute destruction
The EU, in its wisdom, has mandated that by 2020 all fuel will contain a minimum of 10% Bio fuel, much of this is being produced from Palm oil. The addition of bio fuel reduces the amount of carbon emitted from vehicles hence contributing to lowering greenhouse gases and supposedly helping with climate change. Seems like a good idea? Problem is though; many of the world’s top scientists argue that Co2 is not a green-house gas. Even so, reducing pollution and increasing air quality is of course a good thing for us all.
Bio Fuel is rapidly growing market for palm oil and is dramatically increasing global demand. The development of the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia has brought economic benefits to a select few in these countries and has generated massive environmental and social costs in the process.
Palm plantations are one of the biggest causes of rainforest clearance. There is a strong incentive for companies to seek concessions and access to land that is heavily forested. By clearing the forest first, plantation companies can offset the start-up costs of their plantations. The profits are so large that some companies clear the land and don’t even bother to set up the plantation.
The palm oil industry has already set up in excess of 6.5 million hectares (25000 sq miles) of Palm plantations across Sumatra and Borneo upon which once stood dense jungles. A further 13500 sq miles were also ruined during the establishment of the plantations due to fires set to clear what is left after the valuable trees have been cleared and sold.
The palm plantation companies in Indonesia have been identified as one of the chief culprits in setting forest fires over the last 10 years. These occur every year in Indonesia and release huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. In one of the worst fire incidents between 1997 and 1998 it is estimated that the emissions from the forest fires in Indonesia were equivalent to 40% of all global emissions from burning fossil fuels that year.Palm Oil plantation development also poses the greatest threat to the survival of many species, including the orang-utan and the Sumatran Tiger. Palm Oil plantations are responsible for at least HALF of the reduction in orang-utan habitat in the decade between 1992 and 2003.
In 2009, the habitat destruction continues and the orang-utan populations have been reduced to around 150,000. Sadly, plans are in place to radically increase palm oil plantations over the next decade with a further 12000 sq miles of rainforest due to be cleared in order to meet growing global demand.In Indonesia, millions of people depend upon access to rainforest resources for their survival.
The development of palm plantations most often benefits large companies at the expense of smaller local communities who are loosing their land and the ability to sustainably access important forest resources and ecosystems. The rapid expansion of the palm oil industry has all too often been associated with community exploitation and corporate greed.One of the bi-products of the production of bio-fuel is glycerine, which is commonly used as a base and a humectant for skincare production. Glycerine is by no means necessary to the formulation of cosmetic creams. There are other alternatives that are much less offensive to the ecology of our planet.
In our ignorance, we support and condone the use of these products, the palm oil industry and its wilful destruction of some of the world’s greatest rainforest, and the torture and extinction of our closest relatives – the Orang-utan.
It wasn’t God that tapped me on the shoulder and told me that if I alone stopped using palm oil I could save these beautiful creatures from extinction.
Recently, I looked into the eyes of an Orang-utan, and thru those eyes she spoke to me. She was very shy but her eyes were deep with intelligence and wisdom. I was overwhelmed with empathy. In her eyes I could see the deepest fear of all, that of the extinction of her kind.
We humans have long underestimated the consciousness of those with whom we share our planet. It’s time now to give these creatures consideration, before they have disappeared for ever. Making a decision to avoid products that contain Palm oil and glycerine isn’t a difficult one, once you are empowered with the knowledge.Of course there are literally hundreds of ecological and humanitarian issues that are screaming for our focus. Fifty percent of the human race exists on less than $2 a day.
From the Gunns mill in Tasmania to human deprivation and starvation the world over, the list goes on and on. Where does one start? Who does one help first?
I believe absolute sustainability in a capitalist society, based on scarcity and debt, is not possible. To maintain the fractional banking system we must work, consume and pay taxes in order to repay the debt of interest on the money that we earn in order to consume, and around and around it goes. This System is the antithesis of sustainability for it requires constant consumption in order to proliferate.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a more attainable target for now. As a producer I have a duty of care to provide the most ethical product possible at any given time. That standard is a moving target as technology advances; therefore constant evolution of ideas and practices is necessary to stay afloat. Producers or not, we are all consumers and we all have a duty to educate ourselves in order to make informed decisions. This is where the real power lies, with YOU!