Fast Food And Face Wash Might Drive Orangutans To Extinction By 2026


Palm oil is pretty useful stuff. It’s solid at room temperature, lacks trans fats, it’s cheap, and it yields the most oil per acre. So it’s in everything from fast food to soaps to biofuels. It’s miraculous stuff, unless you like orangutans, in which case, uh, it’s driving them to extinction within the decade, something even Leonardo DiCaprio can’t seem to stop.

The issue is that we keep destroying their habitats to build more palm plantations on Borneo and Sumatra, where you find orangutans. Since they can’t just move into a suburb, that means less space to live, less food, and more pressure on their population. The situation is so bad that both species of orangutan, Sumatran and Borneo, are on the critically endangered list and might be extinct by 2026. Nor are they the only animals in trouble, as the Sumatran tiger, rhino, and elephant are all facing the same palm-oil-greased gun barrel.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just checking the ingredients list. As we noted, palm oil is everywhere, and many common chemicals can be derived from it. So, what can we do? On an individual basis, check for the seal from the Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, or the Green Palm seal on products, and be aware of which companies are sourcing sustainable palm oil. Write your representatives and the companies you shop at about the issue. And most importantly, spread the word; if enough consumers vote with their wallets, it’ll help keep the orangutans safe.

(Via Quartz)