Student Activities

Make palm oil small again!

In the last blog posts about palm oil, we gave you some insights about the huge impact of this material in our daily lives and told you about the problems. It is crucial to overthink our consumption and to try to use products with no palm oil – or plant-based oils in general, as the alternatives are also no solution. So, instead of highlighting more problems and giving you only negative input (that might leave you with the feeling that the world is a horrible place to live on and that humans are the worst species of all times) we want to provide some solutions to break free from palm oil. Because there is hope. And there are solutions. We just have to look closer and do some research.

First of all, we have a huge advantage today: modern technology. Almost everybody has a smartphone – and we can use it for more than just texting. There is a free app called Codecheck. The use of this app is very simple and can make your life a lot easier if you are trying to track down certain ingredients. You have to scan the bar code or the QR-code on the back of the product you want to check, and within some seconds the result appears on the screen of your smartphone. It gives all information about the name and the price. Scrolling down, you get a list of all the ingredients. The app rates the ingredients as critical, uncritical and gives you further information about why a certain “critical” ingredient is rated like this. For example, it tells you if it is problematic for people with allergies. So, using this advantage of modern technology, you can track down palm oil when you are shopping. Also, it tells you if the product can be combined with a certain diet like vegan, gluten free, vegetarian or else. Codecheck gives you information about seals of approval or environmental standards as well. Lastly, it lists pros and cons of the product which come from the evaluation of other people using the app – you can evaluate the product yourself if you want, too.

First, you scan the bar code or the QR-Code on the product you want to check…
… after some seconds, you will receive the list of ingredients. Pictures: Leonie Fößel
The app Codecheck will give you the chance to track down palm oil. Picture: Leonie Fößel

Secondly, there are also palm oil free products right in front of our noses when we go to the supermarket. It might not stare you in the face right away – but take one step closer to the shelves and scan carefully. In one of the Rewes in Bayreuth, for instance, there is a whole shelf with products that don’t contain palm oil. Different kinds of spread  such as chocolate spread – you see, there is a solution for all Nutella lovers-, peanut butter or vegetable spread. The shelf is right next to the shelf with bread, close to the section with all the organic and fair-trade products.

Thirdly, we wrote about the problems with daily cosmetics and hygienic products. Liquid soap, for example contains palm oil. But you could switch to products that either use organically produced palm oil or – even better – palm oil that doesn’t come from monocultures but from mixed cultures or palmoil free products. You can find a variety of these alternative soaps at dm drug stores. Also, the German website Utopia gives good overviews of alternative, environmentally sound products: One of their entries is about palm oil free curd soaps, they also provide the link to the web pages/stores that sell them.

We hope that this blog entry will help others to reduce their consumption of vegetable oils, more specifically palm oil. If you know any other alternatives, ways to check ingredients of grocery, cosmetics or something else, feel free to comment on this page. Let’s start to accumulate the knowledge to make this world a better place.

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