In this year of the red fire monkey, please #StartWith1Thing and learn more about ways we can have a positive impact for them.
Palm oil is a common ingredient of margarines, biscuits, breads, breakfast cereals, instant noodles, shampoos, lipsticks, candles, detergents, chocolates and ice creams.
The list of products that rely on the unique properties of palm oil is long, with one estimate suggesting that about a half of all packaged items found in the supermarkets contain it.
In fact, palm oil is now the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet, accounting for 65 percent of all vegetable oil traded internationally.
By 2020, the use of palm oil is expected to double, as the world's population increases and as people - especially in countries like China and India - become more affluent and consume more manufactured goods containing palm oil.
Clearing land for oil palm plantations has led to widespread deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia as well as other regions. This has pushed many species to the brink of extinction, such as rhinos, elephants, orangutang and tigers.
In some cases, forest clearance has forced indigenous peoples off their land, deprived them of their livelihoods and reduced essential ecosystem services such as clean water and fertile soil.
Globally, the destruction of tropical forests is a major contributor to climate change as felled and burned trees and vegetation release methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Moreover, because fire is often used as a cheap and quick means to clear land for oil palm plantations, the resulting air pollution can block out the sun and threaten human health both near and far.
In recent years, almost a fifth of oil palm expansion in Indonesia and Malaysia has taken place on peat swamps. When these peat swamps are cleared and drained they release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Up to 66% of all climate change emissions from palm oil plantations come from the 17% of plantations on carbon-rich peat soils.
As consumers we can help shift palm oil markets away from unsustainable practices and ensure that the industry can grow and prosper without sacrificing any more tropical forests. Around 18% of the world's palm oil production was certified sustainable in 2014, up from 10% in 2011. Let's see it reach 100%.
Please learn more:
Orangutan Foundation International Canada (OFI)
Rainforest Action Network (RAN)