Palm Oil: How it affects you and the world

On January 10, 2012, in Uncategorized, by AkronPlaneteers

Palm Oil is not a well-known ingredient for most people. However, it is an increasingly consumed ingredient in most food and even used in some cosmetic products. Palm Oil is becoming such a daily part of people’s diets that it has surpassed soy bean oil and is now the world’s most widely produced edible oil.

What is Palm Oil?

Palm Oil is cooking oil made from the fruit of the African oil palm. This palm tree is only found and grown in tropical environments; mainly consisting of areas with rainforests. “Approximately 85 percent of palm oil is grown in the tropical countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.”

Palm Oil a threat?

Palm Oil is a gigantic threat to the environment and you! Here’s how:

  • Palm Oil as an increasing threat to our rainforests because of illegal logging. Because this plant can only be grown in tropical environments, rainforests are cut down to make room for plantations. Once a plantation needs more room or has lost the nutrition in the soil, more forest is destroyed to make more plantations.
  • Illegal logging methods include the slash and burn method of clearing rainforest. This is the act of purposefully setting an uncontrolled fire to part of the forest. They do not take account the animals in that area of forest. The orangutan is one of the severely affected species by this. There are only predicted to be about 30,000 left in the wild and they are also only found in rainforest habitats. Orangutans are already on the endangered list like many other rainforest species. There are also many other undiscovered species we are losing due to this logging.

What can YOU do?

1)      READ THE LABEL! Reading the ingredients on a label is crucial to avoiding Palm Oil. If it says “Palm Oil” or “Partially Hydrogenated Palm Oil” on the ingredients list chances are it is NOT from a sustainable or legal source.

2)      CHECK THE COMPANY! There is slowly but surely increasing number of companies joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil or the RSPO. These companies DO NOT get  their Palm Oil from  an illegal or environment-damaging source like most do!

3)      WRITE TO THE COMPANY! Is your favorite company not in the RSPO yet? Write to them! If a company knows they are losing money over Palm Oil they are more likely to change their sources!

4)      SPREAD THE WORD!

TO HELP YOU BEGIN!!

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, HERE’S A LIST!

 Make a Difference for Wild Orangutans

Orangutan Friendly Sustainable Palm Oil Valentine Candy List

This information is meant to be a helpful guide for consumers that are concerned about orangutan conservation and deforestation due to non-sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. The companies listed below are members of the RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil) and are committed to using certified sustainable palm oil. Please support companies that are doing their best to make a difference for orangutans.

Company Name                           Snack Name

Nestle                                               Baby Ruth

Nestle                                               Butterfinger

Nestle                                               Crunch Bar

Nestle                                               100 Grand

Wonka (Nestle)                            Valentine Heart Sweetarts

Wonka (Nestle)                            Lik-M-Aid (Fun Dip)

Wonka (Nestle)                            Laffy Taffy Candy and Card Kit

Wonka (Nestle)                            Nerds Candy and Card Kit

Wonka (Nestle)                            Valentine Mix Ups (Bottlecaps, Nerds, Laffy Taffy)

Wonka (Nestle)                            Heart Gummies

Wonka (Nestle)                            Gobstoppers

Wonka (Nestle)                            Chocolate Hearts (Crunch & Butter Fingers)

Wonka (Nestle)                            Valentine Exchange (Butterfinger, Baby Ruth,Crunch)

Lindt and Spungli                       Lindor Truffles (Many Flavors)

Lindt and Spungli                       Chocolate Heart Boxes

ConAgra                                           Fiddle Faddle

ConAgra                                           Crunch & Munch

ConAgra                                           Poppy Cock

Kellogg’s                                           Heart Shaped Marshmallow Treats

Kellogg’s                                           Fruity Snacks

Kellogg’s                                           Pop Tarts

Kellogg’s                                           Famous Amos Cookies

Kellogg’s                                           Austin Peanut Butter Crackers

Kellogg’s                                           Austin Cheese Crackers

Kellogg’s                                           Keebler Brand Cookies

PepsiCo (Frito Lay)                      Cheetos

PepsiCo (Frito Lay)                      Doritos

PepsiCo                                             Grandma’s Cookies

Note: Any products made by Nestle, Lindt and Spungli, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo (Frito Lay), and ConAgra (even if not listed above) are good choices as they are all members of the RSPO.

Products made by companies such as Hershey’s, Brach’s, Russell Stover and Ghirardelli are not orangutan friendly choices as they are not members of the RSPO. If one of your favorite candy bars or sweets is produced by one of these companies, take action by writing a letter and asking them to join the RSPO and be committed to using certified sustainable palm oil.For a sample letter and more information on how you can Make a Difference for Wild Orangutans visit cmzoo.org/conservation/PalmOilCrisis.

Note: Mars has applied to be a member of the RSPO; they are currently waiting for approval. We applaud them for taking this step and look forward to adding them to this shopping guide as soon as they are approved.

 

MaryKate

http://akronplaneteers.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/palm-oil-how-it-affects-you-and-the-world/

 

 

Taking the Meat Industry ‘Out to Pasture’

On August 16, 2011, in Uncategorized, by AkronPlaneteers

I recently had a talk with my doctor about the use of antibiotics, especially those used on animals in the meat industry. She expressed her concern because 80% of the antibiotics in the U.S. go to this purpose. Why? Is it because the animals are getting sick or to prevent the spread of sickness? No, the antibiotics are given in low doses over the life of the animal because it makes them grow faster! Not only is using human drugs needlessly on animals just to make them grow faster so they can be slaughtered quicker ridiculous, it’s a clear path to the creation of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria! While the drugs are intended to be flushed out of the animal’s system before they are slaughtered, this process is also leading to antibiotics being leaked into ecosystems. It’s an all around bad idea.

The importance of using antibiotics wisely can’t be stressed enough. When you go to the doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics, they always tell you to finish the entire bottle, even if you begin to feel better sooner. This is because you may begin to feel better before the bad bacteria is completely wiped out. Even with your body on the path to recovery, your immune system could help finish off the bacteria, but if you don’t finish that bottle of antibiotics and make sure the strain is completely gone, the strain could develop a resistance to antibiotics.

It’s similar to how a flu shot is supposed to work. The body is injected with just enough of the virus to build up a resistance to it. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but it’s supposed to help lower your chances. Well, the same things happens to the strains of bacteria when they get a low dose of antibiotics. By now it should be easy to see why giving animals low doses of antibiotics can be a problem. These doses aren’t usually enough to kill off strains of bacteria, and in the end they could very possibly be making the strains of bacteria stronger. Many of these animals are also given hormones, and the meat is treated with additives, “flavor enhancers,” and probably a few other chemicals. Because the animals are raised confined in small cages, forced to grow unnaturally fast, and given so many chemical additives, you don’t really know what you’re getting when you get to the grocery store, and the taste will be far from ideal.

One option is to avoid eating meat. For vegans and vegetarians, this is as much about the rights of animals, fighting the cruelty of slaughter houses and sustainability as it is about their own health. But the decisions of this minority aren’t really enough to change the big picture. The farming industry will continue churning and the same problem will basically continue, drastically impacting even those who do not eat meat.

Another option is to support natural free-range meats. Randolph, Ohio is home to the Salt of the Earth Farm, which raises animals humanely on an open pasture.

According to the Farm’s listing on localharvest.org;

“We do things as sustainably as possible around here. All the animals are pasture based and supplemented with boiled barley from a local brewery, locally grown grain, organic produce and locally made bread. It sure is a lot more work than feeding animals commercial feed, but the animals sure appreciate it and the taste is far superior to factory farmed grocery store meat. The animals are not caged at any point, and each life is precious to us.”

Farms such as this don’t produce nearly as much meat as industrialized farms, but the quality of the meat (and the quality of life for the animal) is far superior to the processed junk you’ll find frozen in most supermarkets and the price will reflect this difference accordingly. Obviously a small farm that lets animals mature naturally will have higher costs and a limited supply, but it’s really worth it. Supporting local farmers with sustainable practices, we can set the foundation for change while supporting our local economy.

Recently, Giant Eagle has also started carrying organic meat;

“All Giant Eagle® Nature’s Basket® foods are produced without artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. We support farms with earth friendly methods that are environmentally sound and resource conserving.”

This line may offer another alternative since these animals have also never been fed hormones or antibiotics, and the quality and taste are obviously better than most other brands, but their methods for raising these animals aren’t as clear as local farms like Salt of the Earth.

Whatever route you decide to take, you should know what’s in your food, and the processes it went through before it reached your table so you can make healthier and more sustainable choices.

~Akron Planeteers

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Natural Solutions 101

On August 4, 2011, in Uncategorized, by AkronPlaneteers

I once read a post on a website for natural alternatives to bug repellant that said something along the lines of “just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s any safer. They can still be poisonous or cause irritation.” – Well, I for one don’t think I’m going to go home and take a swig of citronella oil even if it does come from a plant! And, even with natural products there is also still the possibility of allergies, especially from plant-based oils. Using natural alternatives isn’t an alternative for using your brain, you still have to be smart about it. But, how does a store-bought insect repellant with DEET and who knows what other chemicals really sound safer? How much do you really know about all of those ingredients?

Why do we look for natural solutions?

Because we want to know and trust what ends up in our households, whether it’s for cleaning, bug repellant, air freshener – the ingredients matter. We don’t want to breathe in toxic fumes (especially those of us with asthma or allergies), or risk mixing chemicals that could be volatile. Plus, whatever we use ultimately ends up back in the environment. The harsh chemicals used in most cleaning products have been known to do damage to the environment, making their way into our soil and even drinking water supplies. Natural cleaners, however, use biodegradable non-toxic ingredients, that break down much quicker and are far less harmful to the environment.

Natural solutions can be cheaper, more practical, and equally effective. We’ve become so used to going into a store and picking up bottles of chemicals for whatever we need – dishwashing liquid, shower cleaner, shampoo, etc., and most of us end up with a cabinet full of (possibly quite volatile) cleaners that we don’t really need. Just turn to your kitchen for most of your cleaning needs – baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice. Need a bug repellant? Lemons and lemon juice repels many bugs, including fleas and ants, because citrus is deadly to them. Pure vanilla extract also works to repel mosquitoes. How about a facial cleanser? Try baking soda, natural dark amber maple syrup, or oatmeal. For acne, once again, lemon juice is helpful. Treat bee stings with powdered meat tenderizer, wasp stings with vinegar, burns and dry skin with aloe vera. Use a 1 to 1 mixture of vinegar and water to clean your bathroom and kitchen, or make a baking soda paste to take care of tough stains. All are safe and effective ways to clean, without harsh chemicals, and without breaking the bank.

We also look for natural solutions because there’s also an issue of sustainability. Why keep around a dozen plastic bottles full of chemicals, and keep going back for more when there are alternatives? Many of the “green” cleaner companies are turning to more sustainable sources for their products and packaging, and encouraging people to throw out less waste by offering different refill options. If you need to buy household products, look for the ones that are certified to be “Green.”

Check out more about the Akron Planeteers.

~FKW

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Disposable Planet?

On August 4, 2011, in Uncategorized, by AkronPlaneteers

How many disposable things do you use on a daily basis? Drink bottles, paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic bags, styrofoam cups, paper towels, snack packaging, sandwich bags . . . And how many of those things to you throw away as opposed to recycling?

Some disposable items are hard to avoid, but it’s not hard to at least reduce your environmental impact, along with the impact on your bank account.

The Basics;

1) Buy a reusable water bottle! According to the Mayo Clinic, humans need 2-3 liters of water every day, that’s at least 3 20 ounce bottles! Or more than a THOUSAND bottles per year, just for a single person. Even at $1 a bottle, that would be a substantial part of money being thrown away. Granted no one (I hope) gets every bit of their daily serving of water from a plastic bottle, still more than 50 billion bottles of water are sold in America each year. Most of these bottles end up in landfills. So, just by buying a reusable water bottle, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and prevent hundreds of bottles from ending up in our trash.

2) Buy a water filter! Water filters are great and cheap way to make sure you and your family always have great tasting water for drinking. There are different varieties of filters, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works well for you. Plus, some water bottles even come with their own filters now, so no matter how much you’re on the go, you won’t be without filtered water.

3) When you have to use a plastic bottle (or aluminum can, paper cup, etc…) make sure to recycle it! There’s almost no excuse these days for not recycling anything that can be recycled, many companies provide convenient recycling bins or drop off locations. Just look around, if it’s not obvious ask around.

4) Use a reusable coffee cup when possible, it’s also far more convenient since you won’t have to worry about your hand burning through the paper cup.

5) Cut down on the use of other disposable utensils and dinnerware. Big family picnic in the park? Sure you don’t want to lug around a heavy dinner set, but be aware of how much stuff you’re sending to the dump afterwards. Maybe you don’t have to take out the trash when you’re done, but that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for how much you produce. The same rules apply here, if you can’t reuse it, recycle it and try to produce as little waste as necessary.

6) Paper towels are great, especially when wiping down the inside of pet cage. I definitely wouldn’t want to reuse that towel again, but you don’t have to use a new paper towel every time you dry your hands, clean the sink or wipe down the counters. Remember those cloth towels in the drawer, they work too. And you can use them again later which will also save you money in the long run.

I’m sure you’re getting the idea here, even lunches can be packed in reusable containers. In fact, I’m sure that sandwich will be less likely to end up squashed if you use a reusable plastic container instead of a baggy. Heck, you can even break it off with those pop bottles and cans, even if you don’t want to give up your soda drinking habits, new companies like Sodastream USA make it possible to even make your own pop! (Without HFCS or Aspartame!) Once again you save money, and since you’re reusing the bottles to make your next bottle of pop you reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill.

Many more things can also be recycled these days; stores recycle grocery bags, and companies like teracycle also recycle drink pouches, snack wrappers, cell phones and more! Yes disposable is sometimes more convenient, but once you throw it in that trash can, it doesn’t just disappear. It could end up in a landfill for hundreds of years and soon we’re just going to run out of room. Take into consideration the entire lifespan of the things you buy. Where and how it was manufactured, and what’s going to happen to it when you’re done with it are just as important as how you’re going to use it. If that’s not convincing enough (though it should be), just think of the money you’ll save! It doesn’t get any better than the old adage;

REDUCE ~ REUSE ~ RECYCLE

Check out more from the Akron Planeteers.

~FKW

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