The idea seems simple at first; I’m going to give up all products containing unsustainable Palm Oil for the entire month of June. Easy, right? I just won’t eat it!
The first time I tried to be an ethical shopper, I thought it would be easy. What’s giving a few creature comforts, compared to all the horrible things like deforestation, child labour, and climate change that are happening in the world? This is a fair question, and I was nothing if not enthusiastic about the idea, but I was unprepared. I needed to ask myself some other questions, like ‘What if someone holds a plate of Tim Tams under my nose at a party?’ or ‘How can I turn down this lovely meal that my boyfriend’s mother has cooked for me without offending her?”, or, most importantly, “What if I’m PMSing?” This would usually be solved very easily by a packet of Mint Slice and a ‘Bones’ marathon, but now I’m going to have to think of an alternative. God help you all.
Humans are creatures of habit, and breaking habits that have been deeply ingrained in our routines, like the kinds of products we buy at the supermarket, are deceptively hard to break. I’ll give a you an example; one of my favourite restaurants in all of Melbourne is Veggie Bar, but every time I go there, I always order the same thing, even though they have a huge range of delicious dishes to try, because I’m afraid that nothing will taste as good as my chickpea lentil curry with greek yoghurt and roti bread on the side. I know it’s crazy, but I still do it, every single time.
Yet now that I am aware of the impact my bad habits are having on the planet, they are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. It is very easy to feel as though these issues are so big that they are beyond our control. That we don’t know where to start. Well, I am starting with Palm Oil.
From the 1st the 31st of June, I’m giving up all products that I either know, or suspect have unsustainably harvested palm oil in them, in protest of the devastating deforestation of South East Asian rainforests and its consequential impacts on biodiversity. I will be writing about my experiences, what I learn and how I cope along the way, to share with you, dear reader, and to prove that you don’t have to stop shaving, showering or convert your wardrobe to solely hemp based garments to join the ranks of the eco warrior (although if you have opted for this kind of approach already, I whole heartedly salute you). As much as I would like to, I cannot physically defend my dear orang-utan friends (an animal that I am often compared to because of the colour of my hair) but like nearly every opinionated twenty something, I have a blog, and the determination to see this through to the end. And hopefully beyond…
At the end of the month, I will be sending letters out to all of the manufacturers of the products I had to cut out of my diet, asking them to consider switching to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as a letter to my local MP, Mr Alan Tudge, asking him to support the changing of labelling laws so that palm oil will be listed as palm oil, not vegetable oil, on pre packaged food products.
I’m also going to upload some recipes for tasty handmade treats to replace my beloved Arnott’s treats, so you can expect some serious food porn over on that page!
I am a big believer in the power of stories, and I hope that as my story of everyday activism unfolds over the next month, you might be inspired to begin your own eco adventure, brick by sustainably sourced brick.
I’m going to end with something incredibly geeky, but they are words that I can always turn to when the weight of this world feels almost to heavy to bear. They belong to one of my most beloved heroes, Gandalf the Grey, in response to Frodo wishing that such evil as the One Ring (of which there are countless parelells to our own real world evils) had never come to exist.
“So do all who see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”