Founded in 2017 by Rainforest Partnership, World Rainforest Day recognizes standing, healthy forests as one of the most powerful and cost-effective climate change mitigation tools we have.
We are acutely aware that Palm Oil continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests and is responsible for the pending extinction of the critically endangered species who rely on these forests for survival.
We donated $50,000 to the Orangutan Alliance, an independent charity that provides support for reforestation, orangutan rescue, and other meaningful projects that counteract the devastation caused by the Palm Oil Industry.
We caught up with them this World Rainforest Day to bring your more information on their amazing work and some tips no how we can all avoid Palm Oil in our day to day lives.
Q1. How did the Orangutan Alliance come about?
Orangutan Alliance was established by founder and responsible food system advocate, Maria Abadilla as a result of her time spent working in the food industry on certification, brand management and product development. She has lived around the world and seen first hand the effects of non-sustainable palm oil development on people, on the environment and on endangered species.
As a passionate campaigner for responsible food systems, she wanted to assist grassroots projects working on conservation and reforestation affected by this issue but believed that part of the solution needs to come from the cause – affected by demand and consumer awareness.
Seeing the urgency of the issue from NGO’s, frustration from consumers and motivated by slow policy response and regulation, she set out to give consumers a choice – a choice to be part of the solution through their purchase via the Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free Seal. She developed the program to achieve three outcomes – to provide consumer choice, to produce a new revenue stream for grassroots projects and to support businesses that want to create products with care.
Q2. Can you explain your Palm Oil Free Certification Program?
Certification Programs are generally established due to ethical or consumer issues that people are passionate about like cruelty free, veganism or palm oil free. These areas often lack regulation and a certification program often assists in driving change in these areas around responsible sourcing and transparent ingredient labelling.
The Orangutan Alliance Organisation is an independent industry-based, non-profit organisation and registered charity promoting the reduction of non-sustainable palm oil in consumer products through our palm oil free certification program.
OA certifies food, cosmetics and household products which are palm oil and palm oil derivative free. You can find some of our certified brands and products here.
We use technical specialists to audit our brands and we strongly support the marketing of those brands as well as proactively give back to our partner charities affected by non sustainable palm oil production.
We work on several levels:
Mandatory labelling is not available in all countries and the Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free logo gives consumers an easy to recognise logo when they shop for food cosmetics or even look at a menu.
We help consumers create change through alternative product sampling opportunities all the way to campaigns.
We liaise with manufacturers regarding new ingredient research and solutions showing them the economic and environmental benefit to developing ethical and deforestation free alternatives.
Q3. Why should we be buying products that are palm oil-free?
Buying certified palm oil free products is a direct investment in the future of our planet and supports endangered species like the Orangutans who are affected by deforestation as a result of non-sustainable palm oil production.
As a crop palm oil is cheap to buy, but the unsustainable demand for it is causing an issue for the planet, for people and endangered species. If we can send a man to the moon, we can create alternative solutions to this issue.
More and more consumers are wanting to know what’s in their products and how it's sourced. Diversifying ingredients is part of the solution.
Q4. How has our donation been used to support the amazing work you do?
The Seed and Sprout donation has assisted us in growing our technical certification team, participate in and present at cosmetic conferences and develop stronger standards for certification. We have also used some of the funds to support our tree planting projects and to market our programs. You can find out more about our #mysteptoprotect and support the campaign here.
Q5. We all lead busy lives, what's one thing we can lookout for when grocery shopping & buying beauty products to avoid buying products with palm oil?
Palm oil is used as a building block to make many other ingredients that no longer have the name palm on the ingredients list. That is why if a brand is not certified palm oil free, it is very hard to know whether palm oil is hiding in their products under a different name.
Individuals can assist in this issue by diversifying their purchases and looking at palm oil free products. You can support the work that various charities do in this space to educate consumers such as sharing a post, signing a petition, donating, and best of all being an example to those around you. The world is changed not by your opinion but by your example.