Not on the Sustainable Palm Oil Bandwagon Yet? This Might Convince You

Have you ever gazed into the eyes of a baby orangutan? If not, I urge you to get on photo viewing website of choice and do it now (warning: your heart may burst).

Image: Schristia
I’m convinced that the mysteries of the universe are within these eyes. Image: Schristia
Tony Hisgett
“People are still investing in conflict palm, can you believe it?” “This is an outrage.” If orangutans could talk. Image: Tony Hisgett

The sad thing is – within the next 5-10 years, the internet may be the only place the orangutan will exist. Orangutan populations have diminished by 50% in just 10 years, making them very much on the endangered list.

Orangutans are truly incredible creatures and share 97% of DNA in common with humans. However, it is humans that have become their biggest threat. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 300 football field sized areas of of land are cleared every hour to make way for palm oil plantations. This is an outrage on so many levels, if not for the innocent deaths of some 3000 Orangutans each year, but for the massive amounts of carbon emissions released in the process.

There is some hope, with centers such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme rescuing orangutans from deforestation and crimes delivered by plantation workers or from being poached for the illegal pet trade. These rescue centers offer virtual adoptions of orangutans in their care to ensure they receive everything they need before they can be released safely back into the forests.

However, an intelligent, sentient being like the orangutan, the person of the forest as their name literally translates to, should have the right to a safe home in the first place.

Seriously, how can you not love the orangutan? Image: Pavan
Terry Sunderland
Doesn’t that just make you want to *face palm*? Image: Terry Sunderland

Consumers need to demand responsibly sourced palm oil and companies need to make commitments towards no deforestation and ethically sourced palm oil. There is a crucial need for companies to be transparent in labelling of palm oil, and for consumers to be aware of where the palm oil is coming from.

So next time you think about opting for a product containing conflict palm, picture these little guys, and think again.
Frans Lanting
Image: Frans Lanting | National Geographic Creative

The Australian Government needs to turn over a new leaf and introduce the mandatory ingredient labelling of palm oil so that we as consumers can make informed choices in our every day purchase decisions. Sign the petition here: or lend your support through A New Leaf Project’s Thunderclap profile: to help amplify the message!

By Chelsea W | A New Leaf Project



  1. This selection of photos made me both ridiculously happy and crazy sad. Really emphasises the flow on affects of our everyday consumer choices huh!!


  2. Oh, I love this. It’s difficult to demand that absolutely no company ever use palm oil at all. It’s in so many of the sugary things I love, but I avoid eating them 1) because of the cruelty surrounding the issue and 2) because I don’t want to get fat.

    But in reality, there’s not much knowledge about to source palm oil in a cruelty free, sustainable way, so your post is really educational.

    Keep up the good work!


  3. The photos convinced me. Great way to show how our product choices can have a negative impact. Will be keeping an eye out for companies that show commitment to responsibly sourced palm oil/ show environmental concern and are taking initiative.


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