This week Nestlé responded to public demand that it stop buying palm oil—an ingredient in products from Kit Kat bars to Pringles—from areas of tropical deforestation.
This decision followed two months of campaigning by the international environmental group Greenpeace. The take-away message from this story: to save our planet’s rainforests, we have to focus on major international drivers of deforestation–and when it comes to influencing big companies, every voice counts.
Whether we like it or not, palm oil is an ingredient in a range of products we consume each day, from hand soap to chocolate.
Since palm grows best in tropical environments, much of the palm oil on the market today comes from industrial-scale plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. This conversion of natural landscapes for big agriculture has devastating effects on rainforests, wildlife (such as the orangutan) and forest peoples.
Over the past two months, Greenpeace activists have hung banners from buildings, created a website, and posted a controversial campaign video online to urge Nestlé to give rainforests (and orangutans) “a break”.
But it wasn’t until consumers like you and me put our weight behind this call for change that Nestlé finally announced it would alter its purchasing policy to source better palm oil that doesn’t come at the expense of our planet’s rainforests.
Nestlé is now working to clean up its act, but the battle isn’t won. Many multi-national companies continue to profit from the destruction of tropical rainforests.
It’s time we continue to use our voices to bring about the change we wish to see in the world.
- Mongabay.com – May 17, 2010: Nestle caves to activist pressure on palm oil
- Greenpeace: Ask Nestle to give rainforests a break
- National Wildlife Federation Climate Change, Deforestation and Agriculture Project
- Follow NWF International on Twitter