From Palm Oil to Shea Butter
As a small business owner I feel great responsibility to put out quality products. I need to stand 100% behind my soaps and salves or all the hard work fizzles at the point of sale if I'm not confident with what I have to offer.
When I first started 'the biz' I was introduced to palm oil as a major ingredient in soap manufacturing. It's a low cost and makes a quality bar, with hardness, lather, and gentle cleansing. I had the choice to buy sustainably forested palm oil, which I paid more for, but it still always felt a bit crunchy. I found myself telling the ingredients to customers and slightly averting my eyes when I mentioned palm. I cringed with the thought that I could be attributing to the deforestation of rainforest and lack of biodiversity, even though it had the label of 'sustainable.'
What is sustainable palm oil versus regular palm? There are some qualifications to be marked as 'sustainable' such as, "They require farmers to stop burning land to clear it, assess land for high carbon stock and high conservation value before developing new plantations, and obtain land use permission from communities using a process known as ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’." Link to Article
Here is a video on RSPO from WWF but, "Despite RSPO’s (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) efforts to certify sustainable palm oil, green groups and investors have routinely criticised it for failing to provide a credible assurance that CSPO is truly sustainable. Commonly raised issues include the fact that the current principles and criteria do not require companies to stop expanding onto peat or stop clearing forests as per the HCS approach. The auditors that verify company compliance to RSPO standards have also been accused of malpractice and corruption." Link to article
I've decided to switch to using shea butter, instead of clinging to the 'sustainably forested' stamp of palm and assuming the companies are maintaining ethical standards. The bars have the same, if not a higher quality suds and lather and I can feel better about producing items I can really stand behind. The cost and quality will remain the same. Many other handmade soap companies (and food companies) continue to use palm oil, but I'm happy to be transitioning away from that ingredient and hope you, as a valued and informed customer, will support the decision to stop producing products with palm oil.