Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Palm Oil - You're not going to like it...

I recently went looking for Palm Oil in an effort to try my hand at making soap from scratch (instead of spending $4 to $5 for specialty bars). Short of going to hobby stores (a hot topic on its own!), I hadn't found a reasonable source yet. In the meantime, I got the Birmingham Zoo's "Animal Tracks" which contained an article and links about Palm Oil.

I'd read about it before at the Orangutan exhibit but since it had popped up again, I figured it was time to look a little closer.

There are two island countries, Borneo and Sumatra (below China and above Australia). My geography isn't good so I thought I'd give more well known land masses for others like myself.

I have to admit, I hadn't realized that Orangutan's habitats existed ONLY on these two island nations! They are also considered to be some of the smartest of the ape family.

So the issue is that corporations are more interested in destroying their homes to make way for highly-profitable Palm Tree plantations and Americans are the largest consumer of this product.

The picture above is from one of the adults (the mother, I believe) in the Orangutan exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo. Look closely at the picture. I'm not sure the solution to destroying their habitat is to put them in a cave with mostly artificial trees. Granted, our zoo did finally provide a skylight but for arboreal (living mostly in trees) animals, a cave without a single living tree seems more cruel than death. Just look at the picture, an adult ape clinging to a blanket, sleeping and ignoring it's child, and turned away from the glass and it's obvious it's not just unhappy, it's depressed.

If we weren't using so much Palm Oil, they might still be in the wild. Until we can provide a better artificial habitat, we should try to buy products from companies that are members of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Here's a list and you can get an app to determine if a product contains palm oil.

For me, finding other alternatives are a lot easier. At least until we've lost the battle, put all the apes in caves, and done away with that annoying "natural habitat" all together. Yeah, I'm a cynic. A realistic one. Capitalism and corporations rule even "so-called" democracies nowadays. Does the natural world really have a chance anymore?

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