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  • Young Climate Warriors

Shampoo, margarine, shower gel, oven chips, deodorant, biscuits, bread and ice cream??!?

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

What do they all have in common?  How might they have an impact on climate change as well as endangered species like orangutans? The answer is to do with a widely-used vegetable oil called palm oil.  

Your challenge this week is to do some detective work in the bathroom and see how many products you can find that contain palm oil.  But be warned - it’s not always easy to spot! Although food products containing palm oil now have to be clearly labelled, this is not the case for bathroom products, detergents and cosmetics. There are over 200 different names used for labelling palm oil products and only about 10% include the word “palm”!  These include Palmate, Palmitate, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine , Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate. Can you find any of these on the labels of your bathroom products?

As a Young Climate Warrior can you write to the company that makes one of the products you find in your bathroom and urge them to use 'certified sustainable palm oil'- that doesn't contribute to deforestation and climate change? Or, if you’re helping your parent with the shopping, can you find products that are RSPO-certified (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)?  Don’t forget to let your voice be heard by HITTING THE RED BUTTON and telling us when you have completed the challenge.

Palm oil trees grow in tropical rainforests in over 40 countries, but most (85%) comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. In recent decades large areas of rainforest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. This is not just destroying the homes of already endangered species such as orangutans, pygmy elephants and rhinos. The forest fires which are started deliberately to clear land for palm oil, also release millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and soot into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

So should we all stop using products containing palm oil? This is a tricky question.  Avoiding palm oil could encourage companies to use other vegetable oils that require more land to grow and more deforestation. And there are millions of small-scale farmers in developing countries who depend on producing palm oil for their livelihoods. For these reasons, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is urging companies to use only certified responsibly grown palm oil. WWF say “Boycotting palm oil is not always the answer, but demanding more action to tackle the issues … is.”

If you’d like to find out more about palm oil  you can click on this link to watch a CBBC Newsround clip or take a look at this interactive page produced by WWF: Don't forget to HIT THE RED BUTTON when you have completed this challenge, and if you're happy to send us a copy of your letter, we can include it on our website gallery (don't worry we will block out any names or addresses).


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