Palm oil is cheap. But costly.

Via Lynn Hasselberger
on Aug 30, 2010
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Did you have it for breakfast today?

bowl of cereal
Photo: | Sam Cockman

1 in 10 products in US grocery stores contain palm oil.

It’s a cheap ingredient, dollar-wise. But palm oil comes at a price. 20 square miles of rainforest is cleared every day to build palm oil plantations.

Many communities depend on the rainforests.

How are they to sustain themselves if the rainforests disappear?

Rainforest destruction endangers orangutans (and many other species).

Think about that next time you break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar…

Of course, the destruction of rainforests–the earth’s largest sinks of carbon, which safely stores greenhouse gases–has a negative impact on our environment. And that’s important to all of us.

Read more about palm oil by elephant contributor Chris Chopik.

Take action against destructing rainforests for palm oil with the Rainforest Action Network.



Image: Green Panther Press on Instagram 


About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger is co-founder of GDGD Radio; The Green Divas Managing Editor; and Producer of The Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, lead-free chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things. In her rare moments of spare time, she blogs at and A treehugger and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr @GreenDivaLynn & @myEARTH360), instagram and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.


15 Responses to “Palm oil is cheap. But costly.”

  1. ARCreated says:

    I learnd about the devastation of palm oil a few years back at the Phoenix zoo at the orangutans habitat…it was one of the first no fly ingrediants in a now continuing line of products no longer allowed to enter my body. It, like soy, is ubiquitous in ways almsot unimaginable. I think being aware of our product choices allows us to be activists every day in every moment!

  2. Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Absolutely! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Shelli Meyers says:

    Wait, I'm all confused. This is the 2nd article today about palm oil, the other one being "Buy Palm Oil" ( and apparently from another source. The other one consists solely of the video for Greenpeace's campaign against Dove; the link at the end takes you to a page on which Greenpeace now thanks Dove's parent company, Unilever, for doing everything they asked and more (…. back in April of 2008!

    Now THIS article shows the video for Greenpeace's campaign against Nestlé (Kit Kat's manufacturer). The end of the video shows the link, which now redirects to an article heralding the success of said campaign ("Sweet success for Kit Kat campaign: you asked, Nestlé has answered",…. It's dated three months ago!

    I'm hoping it's just some automatic news-hunting program that has run into a glitch and is accidentally re-running these stories. Because if not, I think we are doing quite a bit of harm here as activists! It is really important that when calling for boycotts or other actions against corporate entities, that our information is up-to-the-minute accurate. (Just ask that pushing-30 guy who had cancer as a 12-year-old kid and is still getting get well cards as a result of the chain letter STILL going around the Intertubz.) When an organization such as Greenpeace faces off against someone like Unilever or Nestlé, and the company actually steps up to the plate and does the right thing, then a cease fire is inherently assumed, and we should be writing thank you letters and supporting those companies, not letting the tales of their former misdeeds continue to circulate as if they were still occurring.

    Now I'm off to buy a Kit Kat and some Dove Cleanser pronto.

  4. waxbear says:

    I totally hear you about Greenpeace. Heart is in the right place, but another example is their campaign for dolphin free tuna. Dolphins are intelligent and cute, so we have to save them, right, even though they're in no danger if extinction? But using alternative methods end up killing tons and tons (literally) more endangered fish.

  5. Hi, Shelli,

    Thanks so much for the comment. Please see my reply below… (after waxbear).


  6. Hi,Shelli,

    I was aware of Unilever’s “overall commitment to buy all its palm oil from certified sustainable sources by 2015.”….

    Thank you for pointing out the potentially misleading Nestle video. Nestle July 2010 press release states: “WIth regards to our pledge to achieve sustainable palm oil by 2015, we are making progress on certified palm oil and palm oil certificates even more rapidly, with 18% of our purchases covered in 2010, and we expect to reach 50% by the end of 2011.”

    Until they have actually met their commitments, it’s fair to continue putting pressure on them. However, their efforts should have been noted.

    I hope to inspire others to read their labels and build awareness about the potential impact of ingredients. Each and every one of our voices count and I really appreciate the discussion!



  7. Shelli Meyers says:

    Lynn, I have absolutely no problem with you deciding that you want to continue to put pressure on Unilever, Nestlé, or anyone else however you see fit until they fulfill their commitments in their entirety. The problem is, by putting Greenpeace's old video in your column, you are, in effect, quoting Greenpeace and their stand on Nestlé. But you're quoting an out-of-date stance; Greenpeace's current position on Nestlé is here:… and is complimentary and supportive of Nestlé's efforts. It is misleading and ultimately completely irresponsible to report a person's or organization's opinion or stance on something by cherry-picking something juicy from six months ago while completely ignoring all the water that's passed under the bridge since then – in this case, that the campaign WORKED (in Greenpeace's estimation) and that Greenpeace is pleased with the results.

  8. Shelli Meyers says:

    BLAH! This stupid comment program is always mangulating URLs. When the above link doesn't work, just remove the comma at the end, and it will.

  9. mike kati says:

    looking for a cheap second grade palm oil ,not for human use.

  10. JoLinda says:

    We are still vegans if we eat palm oil. We're just not conservationists.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Not quite…palm oil devastates animal habitat, killing animals.

  12. Chuck B says:

    Do you live in a cave? No, I doubt that you do. The house you live in is more than likely made of WOOD. UT, OH. Every tree knocked down "Devastates" the environment. Do you use electric power? Drive a car? Ride a BICYCLE? Metal is from the ground, the rubber for the tires is from trees, the oil or diesel is from either plant life or fossil fuels. Oh, what about wheat? Grown where many trees were knocked down.

    Gimme a freaking break. Cut out your hypocritical statements, look at the facts. EVERYTHING we do "Devastates" the environment. Burmese Pythons in the Everglades? Dog food? TV? COMPUTER? Oh, goodness….the WHOLE THING!!

    Stop claiming YOU don't somehow "devastate" the environment. You've got your unknown conspirators doing the job for you. And you don't even acknowledge it!

  13. […] product,” if I consider myself a compassionate vegan, I need to consider the fact that 20 square miles of rainforest are cleared every day to build palm oil plantations. If the production of the food causes deforestation and endangers the lives of the animals who lived […]

  14. […] we’re vegan or vegetarian, and you eat palm oil or palm fruit or soy bean oil or vegetable oil, we aren’t vegan or […]