Hi, I’m Ruby. In my previous blog post, I introduced a research project about palm oil that I am doing. Palm oil is found in many common food and non-food items. It is usually produced in a way that harms the environment. In producing palm oil, palm trees found in Indonesia and Malaysia that provide habitats for animals are cut down, leaving the animals to become endangered. This is a major problem and most people don’t know that this is even happening right now. My blog post also introduced something called sustainable palm oil; a version of palm oil that is produced so as not to damage the environment. My goal is to promote and popularize the use of sustainable palm oil within my Philadelphia community and everywhere else possible.
Since I completed my previous post, I have learned so much more. I have done more research about the impacts that palm oil production has on people and on the world. In particular, I have learned more from The Union of Concerned Scientists about how palm oil contributes to climate change. When the forests in Indonesia and Malaysia are cut down for palm oil, there is a lot of carbon that is released. The Union of Concerned Scientists writes, “That's equivalent to the emissions from driving an average car from New York to San Francisco and back 76 times.” This information provides yet another reason why palm oil production needs to stop. Even though animals dying may not affect everyone, climate change definitely will.
I have also added to my knowledge of sustainable palm oil, which has continued to appear as an excellent alternative to regular palm oil. According to GreenPalm, there are eight steps that must be followed in order to make palm oil certified as sustainable. These steps address laws and regulations, economic and financial viability, growers and millers, biodiversity, individuals and communities involved and affected, new plants, and improvement. If followed, these steps will create a more healthy and vibrant product and environment.
Now, in addition to all of this, I have also gathered new information through a survey that I conducted specifically for this project. I surveyed 50 people--most of whom are high school students within Philadelphia--about their knowledge of palm oil, their contribution to the problem itself, and their interest in sustainable palm oil. One question asked participants to check off items that contain palm oil that are found regularly in their homes.
The answers I received were very interesting and informative. Only 4 of the 50 people (8%) stated that their homes do not contain a single one of the items listed. This means that 92% of those surveyed usually have at least one item containing palm oil in their home. This just shows how common palm oil is. Furthermore, participants were asked, “On a scale of 1-6, how much does the use of palm oil bother you?” In response, 70% of the people gave an answer of three or less. This means that those 70% were somewhat to very indifferent. I did not expect an answer like this, especially right after explaining that palm oil is a big issue. Even after all of my research, however, I still wonder how I can raise awareness about palm oil.And that brings me to my plan moving forward. The final portion of my project is called the Agent of Change, during which I will do something to make an impact on the issue that I have researched. My overall goal is to raise awareness so that people in Philadelphia can help change their palm oil consumption habits.
My secondary goal is to convince as many people as possible to try buying products with sustainable palm oil, rather than regular products. To accomplish these goals, I plan to create a presentation that will summarize my research thus far. I will then present this to one or two groups of students. I will also provide these groups with a taste of food containing sustainable palm oil, with the hopes that they might fall in love with the product.
Finally, make sure you stay tuned for my third blog post! And if you’re interested in further exploring the issue of palm oil production, visit my Annotated Bibliography to learn more!