Here at Sugar Venom we believe in transparency. We believe in empowering the consumer through informed decision making. We want our customers to know exactly what they are buying and exactly what’s in it before they purchase one of our products.
However, not all companies share this business model, and some even go out of their way to keep consumers in the dark. One of the most destructive ingredients out there, and one that often slides under the noses of otherwise perceptive consumers, is palm oil. For those that don’t know what palm oil is, or why we choose to exclude it form our products, here is a brief explanation.
"There are only 6300 Sumatran Orangutans left. It is estimated that 1000 orangutans are killed a year, a major factor in these deaths being forest clearing for palm production. In 2006, at least 1500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm workers."
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil. It is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Today, almost all palm oil is produced in, and exported from, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is versatile, cheap to produce, and has a long shelf life. Due to these traits, manufacturers of consumer goods have seized the opportunity to turn palm oil into a very lucrative business. Palm oil is now a common ingredient in many foods, house hold cleaning items, and cosmetics.
In order to make room for more palm oil plantations, thousands of kilometres of pristine rainforest are slashed and burned every year. As a result of this destruction, thousands of orangutans and other wildlife are killed in the process.
In many countries, including Australia, there are no mandatory laws for the labelling of palm oil. It can simply slip under the radar as ‘vegetable oil’. Although there have been many attempts by various environmentalist groups to try and change these laws, pressure from the Malaysian palm oil industry has managed to keep most governments quiet.
"In Indonesia, the palm oil industry is responsible for about 5000 land and human rights conflicts. Nearly 45 million people live in the forests of Indonesia. In 2011, Wilmar (one of the world’s largest palm oil producers) bulldozers ransacked an entire village, destroying 40 homes to clear 40,000 hectares of land for a palm plantation."
As a result of this corruption, many consumers are unaware that many of the products they buy contribute to the destruction of these animals and their natural habitat.
The richness of the rainforests of Borneo are being sacrificed for palm plantations at a terrifying rate, fed by a refusal from large companies to pay a higher rate for sustainable palm oil.
A video which has captured the world's attention recently, is the footage of a Sun Bear who shows us the reality of the industry. Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) are among the species threatened from palm oil production, having already been wiped out from more than half their previous range. Although hunted commercially on the Southeast Asian mainland, in Borneo the main threat to the sun bear is deforestation, which is simultaneously threatening many other species.
"Only 35 percent of palm growers that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil are actually certified by the RSPO. Meaning the other 65 percent pay to be “members,” but have taken no action to adhere to the RSPO guidelines in their growing practices."
Being an ethical consumer in today’s world can be a daunting process. With so many harmful products out there and companies willing to screw anything over to turn a profit, it’s easy to lose heart.
While it’s difficult to always know what we’re buying, by informing ourselves, and choosing companies that value transparency, we are giving ourselves every opportunity to make the best decision we possibly can.
Sugar Venom is doing its part to provide a completely open and ethically minded service, and that is why we choose to avoid palm oil and make every effort to also avoid any other ingredient that contributes to the suffering of others.
Being an ethically informed consumer doesn’t always mean choosing the easiest or the cheapest path in life. But it does mean choosing the right one.
"Palm oil development allows easy access for poachers into exposed habitats that have been cleared for plantations. As the result, it is estimated that the Sumatran tiger population will be extinct in LESS than three years if nothing is done to protect their habitat or combat poachers."
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