Palm oil, a core ingredient in many of our favourite beauty, food and household products, has once again been wreaking havoc on the environment.
Charities like The Rainforest Foundation have been warning customers not to buy products containing palm oil for years; the BBC even ran a special Panorama episode on the topic. Yet, despite attempts to raise awareness of the harmful effects of palm oil production on the planet, there seem to be no plans to give it up. The recent massive surge in production of palm oil has lead to the mass destruction of forests in Malaysia and Indonesia, but the dangers of the rising demand for palm oil are no longer confined to rainforest areas across the ocean. The aftermath of our palm oil consumption has just arrived on our doorsteps.
Palm oil found washed up on South coast shores
This week, huge lumps of palm oil known as fatbergs have been washing up on some of the UK’s popular South coast resorts including Worthing, Goring and Littlehampton. The mounds of oil are thought to be coming across the sea from the Caribbean, and it is believed that the aftermath of Storm Angus has bought so many of them ashore. Shockingly, this is not the first time this year this has happened; sightings of rancid palm oil lumps on England’s south coast were also documented this spring.
Effects of fetid palm oil
Fetid palm oil can cause some people’s skin to come out in a rash, and cause an upset stomach if ingested. The effects on pets are even worse! Brighton and Hove council are warning dog-walkers to keep their pooches away from the palm oil or else they could become very ill. Thanks to environmentally damaging production, what should be a haven for families with young children and pets to enjoy the natural world around them has now become a hazardous place. Be careful if you’re off to the beach, look out for the fatbergs, which are white and waxy, and may smell rotten.
So how can we prevent this from happening?
According to the WWF, about half of pre-packaged products sold in the UK contain palm oil. It’s in everything nowadays, so your weekly shop is likely to contain palm oil in everything from biscuits to hair products. It can be tricky and time-consuming to check for palm oil in every product you buy, and it can be especially hard to avoid palm oil if you’re on a tight budget. What makes matters even worse is that because palm oil is so versatile, it may not be listed clearly on packaging.
Palm oil in itself isn’t an eco-fiend, it’s the modes of unsustainable production which are used. This means that the answer to preventing deforestation and fatbergs isn’t boycotting palm oil, but buying from companies who produce their palm oil sustainably. You can check this by looking for the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo, or by checking online.
Here is a handy online palm oil brand guide here to help you shop more consciously: http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palmoilguide
For more information on the effects of palm pil and how to choose more conscious products check out 5 ways to have a more eco-friendly home.
Comment below or tweet us at @Revival_Collect and let us know if you’ve seen or been effected by the recent events surrounding the palm oil fatbergs!