Australian eco store, Biome, is helping consumers take action to save endangered orangutans from the destructive palm oil industry by eliminating from its store hundreds of personal care, cosmetics and cleaning products that contained hidden palm oil ingredients.
After working closely with information from Palm Oil Investigations Australia (POI), Biome believes it is the first natural products' store in the world to remove all untraceable palm oil from its shelves.
Founder of Biome, Tracey Bailey, said palm oil was relied upon extensively by natural and organic brands, but most brands were not disclosing it on their packaging.
'If consumers knew that the palm oil used in a moisturiser or shampoo had contributed to orangutans being killed, I don't believe they would consciously choose that product," Ms Bailey said.
'However, while brands claim they are Cruelty Free and tell us everything they do not contain, palm oil is used to make more than 200 ingredients with names such as Glycerine, Plant Surfactant and Caprylic Triglyceride, which makes it extremely confusing for consumers to identify."
'After 14 years of asking companies to declare palm oil use on their packaging or to not use palm, nothing was changing, so we needed to take action.
'Now, consumers can shop with confidence at Biome knowing that the products they use for body care, makeup and cleaning their homes are free from palm oil."
Ms Bailey said around 300 football fields of rainforest were felled per day for palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, killing around 6000 orangutans, plus Sumatran tigers and many other species every year.
'Palm oil is not bad when done responsibly, but overall, its poorly-regulated agricultural and industrial processes are catastrophic for our planet and our nearest biological cousin."
Ms Bailey said the process to become a store that is free from untraceable palm oil was lengthy and arduous. 'We drew upon the assistance of Palm Oil Investigations to request official statements from suppliers tracing typically palm oil-derived ingredients back along the supply chain. Many did not know whether their products contained any palm oil derivatives, or could not be certain their ingredient suppliers were not using palm oil."
Ms Bailey also believed that 99 per cent of sustainable palm oil claims were unreliable.
'The only certain way to know if the palm oil used in a product is sustainable is to trace it back to the plantation where it was grown, and this is almost impossible," Ms Bailey said.
'The complex supply chain, hidden nature of palm oil use, and the fuzzy certification scheme have allowed manufacturers to get away with the guise of sustainable palm oil for too long."
Ms Bailey said removing all these products was a big financial risk, but it was the only ethical choice for her.
Consumers should be aware that even though a product is certified Cruelty Free, Organic or Vegan, this is no indicator of it being palm free, nor being ethical palm.
What you can do to help save orangutans
Avoid all products containing palm oil, including 'sustainable" palm oil
Follow Palm Oil Investigations on Facebook to learn which ingredients and brands to look out for https://www.facebook.com/palmoilproductsinAustralia/
Check body care for common palm oil ingredients like Glycerine, Glyceryl Stearate, Plant Surfactant and Caprylic Triglyceride.
Adopt an orangutan through Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia http://www.orangutans.com.au/
Shop for palm oil free products at Biome www.biome.com.au