Abby raises Awareness: Purge the palm oil


Photo credit by Miller Photography

Palm oil is in almost everything we use, including soap, shampoo, detergent, food and makeup. It comes from the fruit of oil palm trees in rainforests around the equator and is extremely versatile. But with the continued use of palm oil, rainforests are being diminished, and jungle animals are losing their habitats at an accelerating rate.

There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia, according to WorldWildlife.org. These tigers are facing the threat of extinction because palm oil plantations are causing deforestation and habitat loss. The tigers then search for new homes out of the cover of the rainforest, making them easier targets for poachers.

Tigers are not the only Sumatran animals facing extinction. Palm oil plantations are cutting deeper and deeper into rainforests, forcing Sumatran rhinos, orangutans and elephants to flee their homes and find safer areas to settle.

Photo illustration by Rylie Foster
Photo illustration by Rylie Foster

What’s even worse is that Sumatra is a national park, and it is illegal to cut it down to produce palm oil. So not only are these people forcing innocent and endangered species to evacuate their homes, they are also illegally destroying a national park.

“Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 85 percent of the world’s palm oil and are the only remaining home to orangutans,” according to WorldWildlife.org. It doesn’t make sense to produce a product that endangers orangutans in the only place in the world where they still exist.

Humanity is the reason more and more animal species have gone extinct; if we continue to let palm oil production encroach Sumatran habitats, we won’t be seeing any more tigers, elephants or orangutans.

Fortunately, there is a solution: There are talks of moving to the use of sustainable palm oil, which basically means companies would extract palm oil in a safer way – without causing mass deforestation or harming animal and human habitats, according to SayNotoPalmOil. com.

For Sumatran animals, this would mean having a stable home with a constant food source and a lower chance of nearing extinction. For the native people living in or near rainforests, this would mean more continuous rainfall and less chance of unpredictable weather due to the decreasing number of trees.

In addition, there is also a local solution we can work towards here in Ohio: buying fewer products containing palm oil. Whether it’s Oreo’s, soap, foundation or laundry detergent, it is very possible to avoid purchasing at least one palm oil product. It might seem like a hassle to avoid buying something you want or to switch brands, but think big picture here: we are being given a chance to save animal species before it’s too late. Orangutans, elephants and tigers need our help, all we have to do is act.

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