To BOYCOTT or NOT TO BOYCOTT?
Initially when we were all first becoming aware of the palm oil issue many, many years ago we had little information about the whole issue and so a boycott was the quickest and easiest call to action, boycotts are great for drawing people's attention to the cause and making people take notice as it is a simple call to action and is not weighed down by complicated details and facts. Boycotting is the perfect marketing tool due to this simplicity.However the more I have learn't about this issue over the years, the more I understand that the blanket boycotting of all palm oil will not solve the problem and would in fact create problems IF the whole world did boycott, which is not likely to happen anyway.
I was a 'everyone should boycott palm oil' advocate for the first five years of researching this issue but the more I learned about this issue (by reading many articles, talking to many people in the field, spending time in both Indonesia & Malaysia and, having an in depth look at the whole issue) the more I realised that although I could choose to boycott, most people in the world couldn't.
Segregated CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) and Identity Preserved CSPO(Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) are not myths as people say, these supply chains do actually exist and much is being done to try to move both producer and product manufacturer alike to only produce & buy this supply chain of palm oil. Some of the other 'sustainable' supply chains I agree are not fully sustainable, and are cop outs or 'stalling' mechanisms but segregated & IP CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) can be tracked back to the source.
Every organisation which is attempting to get this industry regulated, monitored & traceable to slow the rate of deforestation are worthy, These include TFT, POIG, POAA, POI & RSPO. Some of them are less than perfect but it is far better than having none of them and doing nothing as this would only enable companies to get away with ANYTHING they wanted (which is what would be happening if these organisations did not exist) AND certainly far better than calling for a global boycott of palm oil because the biggest consumers of palm oil BY FAR come from developing countries (around 75% of them). In countries like China, India, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan and many other developing countries people don't have the luxury of choice as to what oil they use because either there are no choices and/or poverty makes the choice for them. SO....I choose to lobby for palm oil which has not caused any deforestation and is being monitored on their behalf. I, living in my nice, comfortable, already developed country am lucky that I have the luxury of choice and so for me I still choose a palm oil free lifestyle because I am able, because the production methods are still not full proof, because I don't like processed food and because I don't buy non-food products full of the chemicals (which palm oil is turned into for non-food products and these are called palm oil derivatives) see here for list of over 270 alternate names for palm oil you will find on ingredient lists, BUT……. for all those millions and millions and millions of people in developing countries who will never even know WHY they should boycott, or aren't able to boycott palm oil AND for all those millions of apathetic people living in developed countries who will never boycott even if they ARE aware due to apathy or choice then I choose to lobby companies to switch to using palm oil which has caused no deforestation ON THEIR BEHALF.
The large companies you wish to boycott are NOT going to remove palm oil from their products as manufacturing is about the bottom line, therefore boycotting is only a useful tool if you are actually using it to contact the company, show them you are very informed about the issue, tell them that unless they switch their palm oil supply to one which does not cause deforestation (seg CSPO or IP CSPO) then you will no longer buy their product. They need to see that they will lose your business unless they switch supply which is a more achievable option for them than removing it from their product, reformulating their recipes and paying for new packaging. If you are asking them to do something which they are just not going to do eg removing palm oil from their product then they will just ignore you. So your time, energy & boycott have been wasted. If you ask them to do something which is achievable they may just listen and this is when the threat of boycott can apply pressure and be successful. If we just encourage everyone to simply boycott palm oil the remaining forests will be long gone by the time even 1% of the world cottons on.
If anyone is interested there are 9 pages about palm oil and the entire issue on my wesbite - here is the link http://www.withcompassion.com.au which gives a really good overview of what is happening within the industry to push for no deforestation. Also here is a link which will help you to challenge and communicate with the brands/companies https://www.facebook.com/notes/save-orangutans/how-to-research-rate-the-palm-oil-within-a-product-you-are-currently-using/483626878384876
It is a very complex issue but please don't let that turn you away as the rainforests, the flora & fauna, the Forest Dwellers and the Planet need you. xB