Palm oil is one of the soapmaker’s indispensable oils. It is one of the few carrier vegetable oils that imparts hardness to the soap giving a longer lasting bar. In addition, it contributes a creamy, stable lather and some moisturising properties.Alternative oils, waxes and fats do exist that impart hardness to the finished bar however, tallow and lard, being animal bi-products, do not fit in with our ethics while beeswax, shea and cocoa butter are luxurious ingredients best used in smaller amounts to create a well-balanced bar packed with nutrients.
Palm oil is used in the production of bio fuels besides the food and cosmetic industries. The widespread destruction of rain forest ecosystems to make way for oil palm plantations especially in Borneo and Indonesia is irreverisble. A major contributing factor to declining orangutan numbers, we took the decision not to incentivise this practice even if the quantities we use are a drop in the ocean.
Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Set up in 2002 by growers, manufacturers, non-governmental organisations and representing around 40% of global palm oil production, the RSPO’s mandate is to establish a ‘sustainable supply chain’ for palm oil through good production practice, legislation and education.While establishment of the RSPO is rooted in positive intent, Greenpeace’s current view is that it does not go far enough to prevent unscrupulous practice (primarily in South East Asia) and may even do more harm than good in some cases. RSPO certification is relatively easy to get and does not take into account an organisation’s entire activities. Theoretically, an unscrupulous organisation might be awarded the RSPO ‘seal of approval’ for 1% of its activity, while the other 99% of its palm production continues to utilise unethical and/or unsustainable practices.There is another body of thought that argues the impracticality and ineffectiveness that a restriction or total boycott of palm oil production would bring. As a cash crop it brings revenue and wealth generation to communities in developing countries. Cutting off a major, in some cases, the only source of income in certain regions would be unjust and likely contribute to the continuing destruction of the rainforests but for other industries.
Our Position – Palm Oil From Colombia
In the end we’ve gone for the ‘middle path.’ When we researched into the RSPO we came across numerous articles and bodies of opinion that seem to corroborate Colombia’s generally positive stance on sustainable palm production. Having said that, palm oil production is not free from controversy in Colombia. We have come across stories of government-backed paramilitary organisations usurping the ancestral lands of indigenous populations to pave the way for bio-fuel production. However, the efforts of certain well-established producers in conjunction with the initiatives of organisations such as Fedepalma seems to be a step in the right direction. Our organic palm oil is sourced from a well-established, reputable plantation and a member of the RSPO.
Going Forwards – Palm Oil Free Soaps
In addition to using palm oil from Colombia, we are also developing a new range of soaps that will be totally palm oil free. Be sure to watch this space, and try some for yourself!
What Are You Looking At
September 24, 2019