Monkey Business

Today (Sunday 5th June) is World Environment Day, and I thought it would be a good time to talk about something important: orangutans. World Environment day is every 5th June, and is observed worldwide to raise issues about the environment, orchestrated by the United Nations.

Orangutans are the closest mammal relative to humans, not to mention that they are so damn cute. Just look at this little thing. So sassy.

But my real issue is that there is every chance these amazing animals could be extinct within the next couple of decades, and all because of human activity – largely the production of palm oil.

I’ve mentioned this to some family of mine, and got a lot of blank looks back. Most people don’t seem to really know what palm oil is, where it comes from, or what it may be used for. And this is understandable – companies don’t promote the fact they use it, and it’s widely marketed as just ‘vegetable oil’.

The reality of the matter is that palm oil is a very cheap oil used in an alarming majority of the products we buy in supermarkets. The WWF foundation has a list of the various places you’ll find palm oil, and the products it’s in here. Things like margarine, shop-bought cakes, soap, pre-packaged bread – they all contain palm oil.

And the problem you’re left with is the sheer amount of deforestation and logging taking place to produce palm oil, which is destroying orangutans’ habitats (besides many others’) at an astonishing rate. In the last 20 years alone, orangutans have lost 80% of their habitats.

I’m just using orangutans as a kind of front-man for this post, as a solid example of what’s happening because of human industry and production. And sure, some orangutans are being kept in captivity, so from that angle, they may not go extinct (at least they aren’t as hard to breed as pandas, for example)…

But wouldn’t it just be such a sad remark to note that as time goes on, the only living remainders of some animal species are kept in captivity, not their natural habitats?

So here’s where I quit explaining the problem, and instead provide you with some solutions:

  1. Where you can, please check the ingredients of products.
  2. At any point possible, avoid buying products made with palm oil.
  3. Make your own foods as much as possible. I’m just talking about meals here – at least if you make it, you know what’s in it, and it’ll probably be healthier too.
  4. Spread the word. If there is anything to be learned from this day and age, it’s that not a lot will get done if there aren’t a lot of people driving it. People don’t know about this problem, and that’s another problem in itself.

There are plenty of alternatives out there, which are better for the planet, these animals, and the planet. Taking peanut butter as an example, you can buy plenty of brands that do use palm oil, but plenty that don’t. Meridian peanut butter is brilliant, with just one ingredient: the peanuts. Whole Earth says it uses ‘sustainable’ palm oil, which has to meet standards from the UN, I believe. But even SunPat doesn’t use palm oil, and that’s a cheap one.

So please, if you’re going to take anything away from this blog post, please share the word. Whether you just share this post with the buttons below, share a picture of an orangutan with a message on social media, tell your family members and friends – anything helps. There are petitions to sign (like SayNoToPalmOil), donate with WWF, and do your own research.

In this world, there are so many reasons not to do things, but when it comes to matters like these, that affect the whole world, why not do your part to save it?

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Disclaimer: this post was not sponsored. Thanks for reading!

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