Palm Oil - What Is It, And Why Does It Matter?

Palm Oil - What Is It, And Why Does It Matter?

Eloise Leeson - Olim on 14th May 2021

What can be found in your cream blusher and your peanut butter? In your margarine and in your shampoo? Body lotion and biofuel? Cosmetics and cleaning products?

Recent studies have shown that palm oil - oil harvested from the palm fruit - is present in over 50% of all the products in your local supermarket. Like vegetable oil, palm oil is safe to eat - and it’s very cheap, shelf-stable, and has a high melting point.

Palm oil’s properties also make it an ideal ingredient for food and cosmetic companies, and it’s used to make lipstick smoother, crisps crunchier, and stops ice cream melting too quickly.

Rainforest Rescue sum up its appeal for manufacturers:

“Worldwide demand for palm oil has increased sharply over the last few years. With 54 million tons in 2011, it is the most widely produced vegetable oil worldwide.

It has the highest yield of any oil crop and is the cheapest vegetable oil to produce and refine.”

But why is palm oil such an issue? According to the World Wildlife Federation:

“Many vast monocrop oil palm plantations have displaced tropical forests across Asia, Latin America and West Africa.

Around 90% of the world's oil palm trees are grown on a few islands in Malaysia and Indonesia – islands with the most biodiverse tropical forests found on Earth.

In these places, there is a direct relationship between the growth of oil palm estates and deforestation.”

Grown in places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo - the only natural habitat for Orangutans - demand has increased so much that the palm oil industry has destroyed huge swathes of rainforest to make room to grow more and more of the crop.

This deforestation of naturally biodiverse forest has caused a shocking decline in the numbers of both the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans - putting them on the Endangered and Critically Endangered lists, respectively.

Sustainable palm oil is one potential solution to our global dependence on this crop, but reducing our use of it is another. Used in tandem, we can work to ensure that no more rainforests are lost to the production of this crop.

At Heyland & Whittle - whilst it might sound like we’re blowing our own trumpet! - we really are in a position of influence and privilege as a brand that people love and trust. We don’t take this lightly, and we know that we have a responsibility to make sustainable choices, so that both our customers and our planet benefit.

Because of this, our eco-friendly range of soaps - from bricks to bars – are all palm oil free. Though it sounds simple enough to say, this was a huge environmental decision that we had to make as a business, as it involved creating an entirely new formulation that still maintained the level of quality our customers have come to love and trust.

Though the change was significant for us to make, we also knew it was the right thing to do – and so our eco-friendly soap range was born! With plastic-free packaging, these cold-processed soaps are expertly hand blended with 100% natural essential oils, herbs, spices and natural colourings.

We prove that though palm oil does have many positive properties, you don’t always have to use it to have a fabulous product. These palm free soaps are gentle in the truest sense - on the skin and the earth.

So whether you choose to breathe in the fragrance of our beautiful Vintage Rose or treat yourself to a luxurious lather with our woodsy Hemp & Walnut bar, you can rest assured that you’re helping reduce our dependence on palm oil.

You can even splurge whilst saving, and invest in a brick of Citrus & Turmeric Soap for a zingy morning wake-up call that’s (dare we say?) better than coffee…

Ultimately, at Heyland & Whittle, we want to make sure you don’t ever have to compromise your cosmetic ethics. Little changes that are good for the planet can be luxurious, too - and every sustainable step forward adds up.