Found in household goods (especially beauty products!) from perfume to vegetable oil, palm oil is responsible for the destruction millions of acres of rainforests, serious human rights violations, and the endangerment of several species of animals. And more likely than not, it can be found right in your own home.

Take this post as a sort of "Palm Oil 101" where you can learn a quick overview of the devastation of palm oil, where it can be found, and simple ways to take action today.

After hosting a giveaway with Pacific Perfumes and bragging that they don't use palm oil in their products, I noticed that you all were clicking on the little "to read more about palm oil click here!" link (hehe yes, I track your every move hehe!) and therefore decided I might as well put together a down and dirty guide to palm oil ~ So let's jump right in it, shall we?

Wait wait what even is palm oil? 
Oh! Right, sorry about that. (I got too excited!) Palm oil is derived from the insides of the palm plant, half of which can be converted to oil (this is a lot!). These plants grow on trees that can grow up to 65 feet (20 meters) tall! And they look like this (pre-oiling, obviously):

Where is palm oil found?
Although palm oil is originally from West Africa, currently almost 90% of exported palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where now almost 90% of their native forests have been destroyed due to unsustainable forestry practices. In fact, according to the Rainforest Action Network, "Conservative studies suggest more than 2.4 million acres of Indonesian rainforest is cleared and lost each year"

Wait what! What is this deforestation you speak of?!
According to the WWF, "In South-East Asia, along, the likely equivalent of 30 football fields is deforested every hour."
Just let this infographic do the talking, showing the deforestation of just Borneo, Indonesia--isn't it just depressing to see so much forest land being destroyed? Think of all of the native plants and animals that are now becoming endangered due to the destruction of their homeland! (okay okay I guess I did some talking too, whoops!)

Endangering species?
Yes. This deforestation has brought about the death of over 50,000 orangutans just in the past 20 years, many of which were burned alive (warning, graphic image) in forest fires (a common practice of deforestation). There are now so few orangutans left that scientists predict that they will become extinct in the next 10 years.

Not to mention all the human rights violations, right?
Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me! (There is so much wrong with Palm Oil it's hard to remember everything)! There are currently over 663 land disputes between large, foreign palm oil companies and indigenous communities, involving the former trying to illegally steal land and force off (sometimes with the help of a private military) the native populations that rely on the forests. Not to mention fact that the palm oil industry is engaged in child labor, heavy exploitation, etc (remind you of anything? *cough* read this *cough*)


Have also you decided enough is enough?

As consumers, the power to change this industry is in our hands. All of this environmental devastation, near-extinctions, and exploitation is for us, after all! Let's take the matter into our own hands and take a stance against the injustice.

Check your labels! 
Because palm oil is not only present in countless items we all purchase everyday (especially beauty products!) but also mostly hidden from appearing on the label (companies are generally great at hiding their inhumanity), asking for a consumer boycott is a little unrealistic (if you're hungry for a good boycott though, check out the Boycott List!) Rather, I would advocate doing a bit of research before you shop, and trying to purchase perfume, goods, etc that were not produced using palm oil! Just a tid-bit of time can make such a large and powerful difference! (Warning: Even "greenpalm" can be misleading, as many of their certifications still permit rainforest destruction!)
A few labels you might see that are also derivatives of palm oil that should try your best to avoid:
PKO, PHPKO, FP(K)P, OPKO, and so much more

Spread the word! Chat with your friends and family, research and learn more about the issue, bring it up in class, blog about it (highly encouraged if you ever blog about beauty!), and share the above infographic on your Pintrest, Instagram, anything!

For more information on palm oil, check out the sources for this article: SayNotoPalmOil, WWF, RainforestActionNetwork

Let me know if you have any questions/concerns/comments, additional info for us, etc--talk to you in the comments! :)