As Halloween is quickly approaching, no matter what everyone’s plans are, most of us are thinking about all the candy! From M&M’s and Laffy Taffy to Butterfingers and Sour Patch Kids…I can almost taste the sugar rush! During Halloween and other candy-filled seasons however, it’s important for my family and me to remember to be sweet to our animal friends in the wild and purchase candy made using sustainable palm oil.
Palm oil is the most widely used form of edible vegetable oil on Earth and is obtained from the fruit of the African oil palm tree. Palm oil is used in nearly 50% of all household products in the United States including beauty products, candy, frozen foods, bath products, crackers, pet food, and more.
Chances are, everyone eats or uses palm oil every day.
The African oil palm tree originates in West Africa but flourishes in any tropical climate with high heat and abundant rainfall. The majority of these trees are grown in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, the same area which orangutans, Sumatran tigers, rhinos, sun bears, clouded leopards, and many other species inhabit.
Over the past 30 years, the demand for palm oil has continued to rapidly increase, and there are no signs of slowing down anytime soon. To meet these demands, the habitats of native species are being destroyed and cleared to make way for new plantation farms to be developed and to expand existing farms. The deforestation due to palm oil has been devastating for many animals, especially the critically endangered orangutan populations. At this rate, many believe wild orangutans could be extinct in as little as 20 years.
Thankfully, there are extensive efforts underway to help build a better palm oil industry without negatively impacting native wildlife and many companies are making commitments to wildlife by only using sustainable palm oil in their products. One small way you can help is by purchasing and using products made with sustainable palm oil. I know that adding one more thing to our plate to worry about seems impossible, but fortunately for us, there are many conservation groups and resources to help us easily identify candy and other household products that are made with sustainable palm oil.
The best resource for me is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping app. This app is easy to use and with just a quick barcode scan or product search, users receive all the information needed about that product and the palm oil used within. Additionally, the app is constantly being updated to include new products, news about palm oil, other ways you can help this crisis, and more.
Click here to learn more about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Shopping app!