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It’s Sustainable! Or is it?

This video was brought to my attention by the lovely people over at Milk Relief Soap. I urge you to have a look at it, it raises some very important points and questions about sustainability and how it is measured.

This certainly raised a lot of questions for me, so I decided to do a little bit of research. Wilmar International, the company in question, is the number one palm oil trader and palm biodeisil manufacturein the world. A report conducted by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, they have been illegally logging rainforests, setting them on fire, and violating the rights of local communities in Indonesia.

And yet they have been granted a sustainability certificate?
I was really hoping that the sustainability certificate that Wilmar has obtained was not from the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil. So I was rather distressed to find that Wilmar is a member of the Round Table itself. Even though they’re responibly for illegally clearing acres of rainforest, and forcing local communities off their rightfully owned land without compensation.

I don’t want to give up palm oil entirely, and not just because it will limit my choices at the supermarket. Palm Oil is an enormous industry that provides jobs for thousands people in South East Asia, most of whom have little to no other alternatives for employment. However, as a consumer, I don’t appreciate being led to believe that something is sustainable when it is clearly not. My own naivety certainly comes into play here, in that I was taking companie’s sustainability status at face value, mainly because I was clinging to the hope that there were actually large companies out there doing the right thing (and thus I can allow myself to eat them). Well, I certainly won’t be doing this any more, nor will I be partaking in any products supplied to or owned by Wilmar. But this sure does make it hard when Wilmar has just bought a 10% piece of Australia’s biggest bread manufactuer, Goodman Fielder earlier this year.

I would love to hear what you have to say on this issue. Please leave me your thoughts, comments and or questions below.

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