What is it?

Palm oil is the world’s most used vegetable oil. It comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree which grows in tropical climates. It is very useful and therefore is in huge demand; this has caused a massive increase in commercial plantations, which in turn has led to the destruction of vast areas of tropical rainforest, home to already rare species.

And what products can you find this in?

The short and long of this is, well - most things. From your pizzas, ice creams, chocolate and bread, right through to cleaning products, make-up essentials like lipstick, shampoos and conditioners. A lot of products and well-known brands contain unsustainable palm oil; it’s just finding out which ones.

Animal impact

The most recognizable impact of unsustainable palm oil is of course habitat destruction. Rare species such as orang utan, rhino and tiger all suffer. Most animals are displaced from their homes, injured or killed during the process.

Environmental impact

With such vast areas of tropical rainforest being removed for palm oil plantations, a lot of carbon is released into the atmosphere, which in turn contributes towards global warming.

Why sustainable?

Palm oil itself isn’t the problem – it’s actually a very versatile, efficient, and high yielding crop. The problem arises from how it is grown.

Unsustainable palm oil is grown on land that has been newly deforested, and it is this loss of tropical forest habitat that is having such a devastating effect on many species. Sustainable palm oil is generally grown by reusing already deforested land, rather than clearing new areas.

What are we doing?

Wild Planet Trust, the charity that runs Newquay Zoo, Paignton Zoo in Devon and Living Coasts in Torquay, is actively involved in the sustainable palm oil campaign. We have made sure that all three sites only sell food products which contain sustainable palm oil.

We are also working with the Newquay Supports Sustainable Palm Oil group to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding palm oil and to help people make informed choices and a conscious effort to change habits.

What you can do?

Checking each individual label whilst you’re out shopping is very time consuming. But help is at hand – literally. There’s a miracle mobile app called Giki Badges.

Giki Badges is your very own sustainable shopping companion which informs you about the products that you buy. It encourages sustainable consumption by inspiring people to make small, regular changes to their shopping habits which are good for them and better for the environment.

The app identifies whether products contain sustainable palm oil by scanning the bar code – it’s that simple. In addition, it also identifies other qualities, such as whether the product is organic, UK made, free from animal testing, free from additives and so on.

Once you find which manufacturers and supermarkets use sustainable palm oil, give them your support. But also ask them to consider clear labelling that identifies where sustainable palm oil has been used.

For more information about the sustainable palm oil campaign click here.

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