Take Action Tuesday: How orangutans are affected by the food and personal care products we buy

October 24th, 2012 by Debbie

Last week we discussed issues that face free-living chimpanzees (and also the other two African apes, gorillas and bonobos). Today I want to take action on a hot topic: palm oil. Free-living orangutan populations are only found on the small islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Since that climate is also really great for palm plantations, which produce palm oil, much of the orangutan habitat has been ripped apart for these plantations. Palm oil is found in almost everything these days—a lot of our food is full of it as well as bath and body products. If the average American opened their cupboards I would guess the majority of the products they have contain palm oil. Watch this great episode of NBC’s Rock Center that discusses the issue in depth.

What can we do? It’s pretty hard to avoid palm oil, but read the labels and choose products that don’t have palm oil over others that do. As the Rock Center article and video mention, the one section of forest known as Tripa has had one company’s permit revoked after an investigation began about the illegal slash and burn agriculture. However, there are still other companies operating in Tripa. Sign this petition to put pressure on the Indonesian government to Save Tripa and the orangutans that live there!

And, since we all really love our vegan butter (which usually contains palm oil), Diana and JB looked up some alternate butter recipes so we could start reducing the amount of palm oil we buy. After doing a small taste test, this is the one that staff decided we liked the best, however we used guar gum instead of xantham powder, and added extra salt.

photo courtesy of The Orangutan Project’s Facebook page

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