In our last blog post, we discussed why palm oil is so ubiquitous and yet so problematic. It’s a super-oil that has properties not found in alternatives. And while its use has serious implications for the environment, alternatives would actually consume more land and cause more environmental damage. In this post, I discuss the next best thing – ‘sustainable palm oil’. read on to find out why we opted for it in our products.
Human rights are an issue in traditional palm oil production. Palm oil production is integral to the economies of countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. Many people depend on it for their livelihoods. But sadly, the industry is riddled with human rights abuses, which absolutely should not be tolerated.
It’s a dilemma that those of us wishing to provide effective natural products are facing, whilst being good stewards of the earth, and being sensitive to the needs of vulnerable populations. After thoroughly researching the pros and cons of both palm oil and its alternatives, we made the choice to use certified sustainable palm oil in our NO Soap. Let me explain what that certification means and why sustainable palm oil is different from traditionally sourced palm oil.
The Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit organization that has developed criteria for sustainable palm oil. It ensures companies meet those criteria in order to hold and maintain certification. Producers are not certified as making, selling, or using sustainable palm oil without being independently audited.
Furthermore, every organization involved in the supply chain must attain RSPO certification in order for the end product to be certified. This provides much-needed oversight so that the end user can rest assured that the palm oil in the products they purchase was produced sustainably. It also places pressure on the industry as a whole to comply with sustainable practices when consumers choose RSPO certified goods.
As of 2014, 19% of global palm oil was sourced from RSPO-certified growers. As demand for RSPO-certified products grows, more growers will likely come on board. Palm oil plays an integral role in the creation of many different types of products and provides a great number of people with their livelihoods. Sustainable production allows us to keep the benefits of palm oil while reducing or alleviating the problems that have traditionally plagued its production.
Conventionally produced palm oil wreaks havoc on the environment. Rain forests are cut down to free land for palm oil production, decimating endangered species, like orangutans, elephants, rhinos, and tigers along the way.
Clearing and burning rain forests also contributes to climate change. Unfortunately, ceasing to use palm oil at all would likely cause even more environmental destruction because alternative oils require much more land to produce.
Fortunately, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil sets standards that prevent harmful environmental practices. Producers must agree not to clear primary forests that are home to a significant number of endangered species or are part of fragile ecosystems. They also require producers to decrease the use of fires and pesticides in palm oil production.
Human Rights in sustainable palm oil industry
While many people are aware of the environmental damage caused by conventional palm oil production, fewer know that human rights abuses are also linked to the industry. Child labour, hazardous working conditions, discrimination, forcible evictions, and more are rampant in palm oil production. The RSPO has taken considerable steps to remedy these problems.
Producers are barred from clearing forests that the local community needs to meet their basic needs or are important to their traditional culture. Producers also may not develop new plantations without consulting the affected communities.
Additionally, the RSPO sets standards for workers’ rights. The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) is tasked with ensuring the implementation of the RSPO social criteria. As such, they address such problems as poor working conditions, unpaid labour, child labour, deceptive recruitment. They further are involved in managing disputes in workplaces.
The HRWG requires companies to respect human rights and develop plans to avoid human rights abuses. They also encourage companies to proactively remedy past abuse. The HRWG specifically addresses land rights, protections for vulnerable populations, the rights of affected communities and smallholders to be heard, and handles supply chain responsibilities.
While human rights violations have been a serious problem in traditional palm oil production, many individuals and communities depend on palm oil production for their livelihood. Without it, they would fall into deeper poverty. Purchasing from RSPO-certified companies ensures workers are treated with respect and paid fairly for their labour.
At Au Natural Skinfood, we choose our ingredients carefully. It’s important to us that our products are effective, based on sound science, and ethically sourced. As such, we could not use conventionally-produced palm oil in good conscience.
Alternative oils weren’t a good fit for us, either. Unlike some other oils, palm oil does not upset the delicate balance of our skin’s ecosystem. We place a great deal of importance on fostering the skin’s microbiome because it is essential to our skin’s health and its function as a protective barrier. When we created our NO Soap, we did not want it to upset that balance, so we opted to use certified sustainable palm oil.
Palm oil has the ability to clean the skin without stripping it of its natural oils and good bacteria. It can be used on all skin types, and it’s affordable. Being able to source certified sustainable palm oil made it the clear choice for our NO Soap.
In addition to palm oil, we use Manuka oil to further enhance the biome-positive qualities of our NO Soap. And our NO Soap is certified vegan. You can be sure that when you choose NO Soap, you’re making a choice that will nourish your skin without harming the environment or the animals that share this Earth with us.
The next time you shop, pay attention to how many of the products you use contain palm oil. In the future, we hope you’ll consider choosing products, like our NO Soap, that are certified as containing only sustainable palm oil. Together, we can make a positive difference for the environment, endangered species, and all the people and animals who share the earth with us.
If you are feeling like your skin is compromised, you can also give your skin some love from within. Au Natural Skinfood’s Hair.Skin.Nails. Marine Collagen Powder, with Manuka honey and New Zealand grapeseed extract, balances your gut microbiome and builds collagen in your skin.
I am here to help and want to support you on your journey to healthy skin, please contact me directly through [email protected] I would love to hear your experience and answer any questions that you might have.
Tracy – Founder
Au Natural Skinfood
References for more information on Palm Oil
- How do we go palm oil free? (bbc.com, 14 Jan 2020)
- Palm oil in beauty products: The sustainable guide to navigating this tricky ingredient (stylist.co.uk)
- Sustainable personal care: Moving away from palm oil is ‘not the solution’ – Croda (cosmeticsdesign-asia.com, 5 Aug 2019)
- How the world got hooked on palm oil (theguardian.com, 19 Feb 2019)
- The reason why Palm Oil is so controversial (independent.co.uk, 12 Oct 2019)
- 5 problems with ‘sustainable’ palm oil (greenpeace.org, 6 Nov 2019)
- The European market potential for palm oil alternatives (cbi.eu)
- Check if your favourite brand is committed to a responsible Palm Oil future, free from deforestation and destruction of nature
Cosmetic brands with alternative ingredients
- Sustainable and eco friendly makeup: 14 best ethical beauty brands
- Cosmetics with a clear conscience: Palm oil that can endanger the jungle is widely used in beauty products, FEMAIL picks out the best alternatives
- Morley, D. (2018). Transforming the global palm oil industry to make sustainability the norm. Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech, 29(2), 50-52.
- Teh, S. S., & Mah, S. H. (2018). Stability Evaluations of Different Types of Vegetable Oil-based Emulsions. Journal of oleo science, 67(11), 1381-1387. doi:10.5650/jos.ess18067
- Sitepu, M. H., Matondang, A. R., & Sembiring, M. T. (2020). Sustainability assessment in crude palm oil production: A review.
- Ayompe, L. M., Schaafsma, M., & Egoh, B. N. (2021). Towards sustainable palm oil production: The positive and negative impacts on ecosystem services and human wellbeing. Journal of Cleaner Production, 278. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.123914