You Think Twice About Using Palm Oil. Here's Why

Palm oil, which is a type of vegetable oil that is commonplace and is found in several products in our everyday lives such as shampoos, soap, food items such as pizza, and biscuits (via BBC). Palm oil is prepared from the fruit found on trees known as African oil palms and is prominent in Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among other places. These trees are usually found in rainforests and tropical regions but can also be grown elsewhere. In a bid to meet increasing demand, palm oil is being farmed on much a larger scale than before.

However, unlike some of its counterparts – like, say, sunflower oil – palm oil does have a dark side that you may not know about. If you're planning to buy palm oil or have products that list palm oil as a primary ingredient, you may want to reconsider and opt for a different choice. Here is why.

It's contributing to deforestation

Palm oil, to put it simply, is terrible for the environment. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), palm oil is incredibly versatile which explains why it is found in so many products. That said, this seemingly innocent oil has been responsible for deforestation in many parts of the world, encroaching on territory belonging to endangered animals like the Orangutan and the Sumatran rhino. Deforestation in turn is increasing our exposure to greenhouse gases and negatively impacting the environment by causing climate change. Additionally, child labor and ill-treatment of workers continue to be a cause for concern in the industry.

What's the solution? You can either try alternatives to palm oil like sunflower oil or only buy products from companies that are transparent about ethically manufacturing palm oil. One way to do is to check whether they live up to the standards set by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm (RSPO), a non-profit that hopes to help regulate ethical sourcing of palm oil in a bid to reduce its adverse impact on the environment. As explained by The Guardian, even sustainable sourcing of palm oil may not completely prevent deforestation. It's really difficult to be sure and you may benefit from an alternative like olive oil, which is better for your health, too (via Time).