Sustainable Palm Oil 101
Recently, a few customers have written to us regarding our use of palm oil in our soaps. They were concerned about the environmental impact of the use of palm oil—and rightly so!
At The Mad Optimist, we decided early on that if we were going to use palm oil, it would need to be palm oil that has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Rainforest Alliance—and that's just the beginning.
Before we can really explain how and why these certifications matter, let’s look at the main issue with palm oil.
In the past 20 years a staggering amount of the orangutan’s habitat has been destroyed by deforestation. The palm oil tree, native to Africa, is grown primarily in Asia. In particular, most of the world’s palm oil comes from the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Too often the procurement of palm oil is not done in a sustainable way. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the expansion of palm oil plantations is the leading cause of deforestation in these areas. This, in turn, endangers species such as the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger.
Sustainable Palm Oil?
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) sets strict guidelines for sustainable acquisition of palm oil from the rainforests. They have set criteria that minimize negative impacts on the environment. RSPO criteria state that primary forests containing high levels of biodiversity and fragile ecosystems cannot be destroyed.
The Rainforest Alliance forges partnerships with companies that value the responsible sourcing of palm oil to overcome economic pressures. The group states, “Together, we have helped prevent the deforestation of nearly 4.4 million hectares in high-risk landscapes and forest frontiers.” Learn more about Rainforest Alliance certified palm oil.
Our Palm Oil Supplier: Daabon
The Rainforest Alliance is just the beginning. We specifically chose to source our organic, sustainable palm oil from Daabon: an organization dedicated to producing radically sustainable palm oil. Here are just a few great things about Daabon, including certifications and recognitions. Daabon...
- Is based in, and produces palm oil in, Colombia, where the threat to forests, and danger of deforestation, is extremely low—in Colombia, over 55 million hectares are degraded former pasture land. Planting palm oil trees that will live and produce palm fruit for decades protects the soil, and assists in carbon sequestration.
- Volunteered to receive RSPO Next certification, a more stringent version of RSPO's certification.
- Is a member if POIG (Palm Oil Innovation Group), which has extremely strict requirements.
- Has been recognized by SPOTT, an independent initiative created by the Zoological Society of London, as the #1 rated sustainable palm oil producer (as of March 2019).
Sure, choosing to use only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) costs us more, compared to other palm oils on the market; however, we believe supporting sustainable palm is well worth the added expense. Including only the most carefully sourced CSPO in The Mad Optimist soaps allows us to make a positive environmental impact.
What’s more, CSPO also takes into account the needs of people worldwide who live in the rainforests and work in the palm oil industry.
Want to learn more about the positive effects associated with the sustainable palm oil movement? Check out this National Geographic article.