As you may have seen from our Journal post in April, I recently announced we no longer use palm oil in our popular LAFCO bar soaps. This common ingredient, found in most soaps as well as consumer products ranging from makeup to cleaning products, has been making news recently as researchers discover that the production of palm oil is causing significant environmental damage.
The reason we made this change was to assist in the global effort to reduce palm oil consumption and the associated devastation to rainforests and global warming caused by the its production. I create LAFCO products to be beneficial for the mind, body and spirit and when I discover that an ingredient we’re using isn’t good for either you or the planet, it’s essential that we change course.
In re-imagining the mix of ingredients for our bar soaps and removing palm oil, we made it even better. Our award-winning soaps that delivered ultimate moisture and hydration now provide more of both thanks to an increase in the amount of olive oil.
Through studying this topic, I’ve become aware of what the production of palm oil is doing to our planet. Rainforests are being burned down to make way for palm oil plantations. These forests are rich in peat — partially decayed vegetation — which is loaded with carbon. When these forests are cleared, carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the gas that is the primary cause of global warming. This deforestation accounts for roughly 10 percent of global warming emissions.
But what I didn’t fully address in my Journal post was the devastation this deforestation was causing to endangered species. The rainforest is a rich ecosystem housing the largest majority of various plant and animals. It covers as little as two percent of the Earth’s surface but houses 50 percent of our plant and animal life. Many species of animals who live in the regions being turned into oil palm plantations are facing imminent extinction.
Animals suffering from the result of deforestation include the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Proboscis Monkey. But the most studied animal facing extinction in this region is the Orangutan. Over 50,000 Orangutans have already died as a direct result of palm oil plantations.
Orangutans are self-aware mammals found to be highly intelligent. The only place they live in the wild are the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia. These are the two places where palm oil deforestation is most prevalent. Over 80 percent of the Orangutan’s habitats have been destroyed in the past two decades alone.
On Saturday June 29, writer Hannah Beech poignantly portrayed the plight of these incredible creatures in the New York Times. I am posting it here for you to read. We state in our Pure Purpose that “Natural luxury means being able to indulge in our fragrances and products without guilt.”
It’s a simple statement, but one we at LAFCO take very seriously. For you, for the Orangutans and for our planet.
- Jon Bresler, Founder & CEO of LAFCO New York
Photo by Sander Wehkamp