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KIND to Others: How Fair Trade, Palm Oil, and Orangutans go Together

Photo Credit: Nat Geo Kids

In our efforts to treat ourselves and our loved ones well, we strive to find companies and ingredients that respect life. We look for labels that serve as our guardians, and trust that those organizations are being socially and ecologically responsible. Yet, we are often unsure of what these labels mean, and why they are important. At KIND soap company, we want to educate consumers on why we choose the ingredients we use, and how these products affect everyone who calls this little blue dot home.

Can you imagine reaching for your smartphone to research the ethical soundness of each ingredient listed on the back of every product you intend to purchase? It’s hard enough to get out of the grocery store without running into at least two people you know… researching sustainability and fair business practices in aisle six hardly seems ideal.

Thankfully we have watch dogs: organizations whose efforts hold producers and manufacturers accountable for their practices. These organizations are attempting to stop the hemorrhaging effects of deforestation, global warming, and neglect for human rights.

 

The Benefits of Fair Trade

Photo Credit: Fair Trade International

Raise your hand if you’d like to earn a fair wage. Who wouldn’t?! We all work hard to provide for ourselves and families, and expect our wages to be fair. While this is a reasonable expectation, it is not the reality for many of the producers of our nation’s imported goods. By choosing products through fair trade organizations, we help raise the standard for those who may otherwise live with substandard working environments.

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) serves as a liaison, advocate, enforcer, and standard-setter for producers and manufacturers. Partnering with global participants, the WFTO strives to promote safe, healthy working environments for producers and fair economic practices for traders and dealers.

While some believe that fair trade products are more expensive, WFTO organizations “work directly with producers, cutting out middlemen, so they can keep products affordable for consumers and return a greater percentage of the price to the producers”. (1) Fair trade organizations not only advocate for the farmers, workers, and producers of goods, they ensure those individuals are receiving fair market value for the things they produce.

 

What’s All the Hype About Palm Oil?

Palm oil is an oil produced from the palm tree. Used in many processed foods, cosmetics, and even biofuel, it is one of the world’s most demanded natural products. What seems a trivial ingredient is actually cause for considerable concern amongst environmentalists, biologists, and human rights advocates.

Because of the high demand for palm oil, deforestation of rainforests endanger native plant and animal species. In order to clear land for oil palm plantations, rainforests are cut down and burned. According to a study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tropical deforestation has contributed to around 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (2) Fortunately there are organizations whose efforts fight to create sustainable practices for palm oil production.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is on-mission to set global standards for ethical, ecologically-sound palm oil production. This group works with everyone from producers to traders to “transform the markets by making sustainable palm oil the norm”. (3) At KIND soap, we are committed to only doing business with members of the RSPO.

 

And Those Adorable Orangutans…

We’re a sucker for their expressive faces. We’re also a little partial to their gorgeous ginger color. Orangutans are intelligent mammals whose natural habitats are threatened daily for the sake of global demand.

Partnering with RSPO, the Orangutan Land Trust is advocating for this threatened species. As rainforests are destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations, wildlife living within them are forced to evacuate or be eradicated.

Orangutan Foundation International estimates between 1,000 and 5,000 wild orangutans are killed annually, as a direct result of palm oil farming. (4) The Orangutan Land Trust steps in, creating measures of protection for the species.

Photo Credit: World Wildlife Federation

We Can All Help

You may wonder why we even choose to include palm oil in our ingredients… Although there are negatives to unethically sourced palm oil, the ingredient has its place in our handmade natural soaps.  This all-natural, plant based oil hardens soaps so they don’t rinse down the drain quite as quickly. It is an excellent source of vitamins A & E, antioxidant-loaded nutrients that restore moisture to your parched skin.

And to make things even more confusing, the alternatives to palm are could be just as harmful, (or even more so due to the lack of oversight) than RSPO palm. For instance, several of the alternative crops require up to nine times as much land as palm, which, you guessed it, increases deforestation. By choosing RSPO certified palm oil, we are doing the best we can do until a better alternative is found.

At KIND soap, we don’t pretend to wear superhero capes because of our commitments to be KIND to our skin, the earth, and others. We know they are just a small part of the efforts needed for the benefit of all creation, and to preserve our planet for future generations. Try our products like our natural remedy soap sampler.

Still, small efforts made by everyone add up. By committing to source ingredients through fair trade organizations, RSPO, and Orangutan Land Trust (among other crusaders), we are attempting to do our part.

We applaud your efforts too! We admire your tenacity to be a strong voice in your community, state, and nation. You’re fierce; you stand up for people when it goes against popular opinion. You protect our planet through big and small gestures. All of it matters. When you get involved, help others, and support organizations who advocate for our planet and the life clinging to it, you do make a difference.

Sources:

  1. https://wfto.com/fair-trade/fair-trade-myths
  2. https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil/questions-and-answers#start
  3. https://www.rspo.org/about/how-we-work
  4. https://orangutan.org/palmoil/

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