Unilever palm oil turnaround

Palm oil is in so many products – this edible oil is used in many foods, cosmetics and as a biofuel. It’s likely the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world. It’s cheap in terms of dollars, but the palm oil industry has wreaked havoc on the rainforests of South East Asia through deforestation.

There is a bit of recent good news on the palm oil front, and that’s thanks to consumer awareness and pressure from green groups. Unilever, a company that uses an incredible amount of palm oil, will ban “unsustainable” palm oil from its products. Unilever has committed to trace the origins of all the palm oil it consumes in Europe by 2012 and to ensure it’s only sourcing palm oil certified as environmentally sustainable by 2015.

This isn’t an isolated victory, as Unilever’s decision will in turn put pressure on countless other companies to do the same. The first domino has fallen.

This is how change for the better happens. A single voice may not achieve much against the might of the multi-nationals, but when multitudes of single voices come together it becomes a roar which cannot be ignored.

More importantly, when people make a statement by not buying products that destroy the planet in combination with telling the company why, this is even more powerful. Big companies are supported by shareholders and unfortunately all most shareholders want is to see their portfolio gain value and pay dividends. The environmental aspect of a company’s operations is often of little interest to them… unless it starts hitting the headlines and/or the value of their shares drop.

Vote with your dollars, vote with your phone, pen and keyboard – make more Unilever’s happen :). I published an article on palm oil a while back that included a simple sample letter you can send to companies who use palm oil in their products.. and if you check the ingredients listing of many of the foods you’ll eat, you may be shocked to find how many of them contain the stuff.