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My palm oil-free week

Eurgh, palm oil. It's responsible for the destruction of our rainforests, which contributes to global warming and has rendered thousands of orangutans homeless, orphaned or dead. Yet approximately 50 per cent of products found in supermarkets contain palm oil – from the food we eat, to the toiletries we use every day. More of us are trying to ditch palm oil, but retailers still manage to sneak it into their products by using one of its 170 aliases. But why is an oil that’s damaging our environment so popular? It’s simple – it’s incredibly versatile. Palm oil can be processed to create a wide range of products with different consistencies, characteristics and melting points, so we can do pretty much anything with it, from smearing it on our skin, to spreading it on our toast. I’ve heard the phrase ‘palm oil is in EVERYTHING’ so many times I’ve taken it as gospel – but I decided to challenge this, and see if I could live without the seemingly vital oil for one whole week.

First of all, I have a confession: I’m one of those people who couldn’t think of anything worse than leaving the house with a bare face. So, before I started my week, I made sure I researched my beauty products to see if I'd need to do a little extra online shopping – honestly, I was shocked. I assumed that because my make-up bag is exclusively for vegan, cruelty-free and natural products that they must all be palm oil-free – but this was definitely not the case. Although it saddened me that I was unknowingly applying palm oil to my face every day, it was a great opportunity to try out products from more sustainable brands, such as Axiology (axiologybeauty.com) and PHB Ethical Beauty (phbethicalbeauty.co.uk). Luckily, my trusted shampoo bar and shower products from Friendly Soap (friendlysoap.co.uk) were already palm oil-free, so I was happy to know I hadn’t completely missed the mark. I began my week on a Saturday, because I’m a firm believer that all good things happen on the weekend. To make completing my mission as easy as possible, I decided to spend an hour or so researching what I could and couldn't buy, as well as how to spot the telltale signs of hidden palm oil. A common piece of advice warned me to stay clear of ingredients that begin with palm, stear, laur and glyc. If an ingredient begins with these root words, it doesn’t guarantee that it will include palm oil, but it’s a strong indication.

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Be Kind
Mar/Apr 2019

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