Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why Child Labor, Exploited Workers, and "Sustainable" Palm Oil Don't Belong in Your Soap

"Sustainable" Palm oil is in the news again this week in Indonesia. Palm oil plantation workers demanded that the RSPO stop certifying Palm plantations as 'sustainable' when they are exploiting workers. This occurred outside the 11th annual RSP0 meeting. Workers Give Message to RSPO: Don’t Certify Abuse! - Labor is Not a Commodity. RSPO stands for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil. It is a creation of the Palm oil industry, and primarily includes major players in the industry. There is no outside overseer who monitors the sustainable certification. In July Bloomberg exposed child labor and forced labor on RSPO certified "sustainable" palm oil plantations. Palm oil is not just in many handmade soaps and shampoo bars, but also food products such as most cookie packages at the grocery store.

Palm oil is used in many soaps because it makes a hard long lasting soap with a mild gentle lather. It can basically be substituted 1 to 1 for lard in old fashioned soap recipes. The vegetarian palm oil may seem more ecofriendly than lard, especially with the vegan labeling, but pristine rain forest habitat is destroyed in the process, endangering Orangutans and human jungle habitat as well as eliminating some of the highest areas of biodiversity on the planet.

Aquarian Bath is able to make high quality handmade soaps without palm oil, because we instead formulate our soap and shampoo bar products with a balanced blend of Shea butter or Organic Cocoa butter together with Extra Virgin Olive oil and Coconut oil. Our soaps require a larger concentration of more expensive Shea Butter or Organic Cocoa butter compared to 'sustainable' palm oil which is much cheaper. The majority of our soaps are vegetarian, and we are happy to report that as we expanded our business in 2013 with the help of increase in sales we converted 4 of our non vegetarian formulas to vegetarian in 2013. We will be converting our last non vegetarian bar to vegan in Winter 2014.

Thank you to our customers for paying a little extra to purchase our palm free soaps and shampoo bars. We are always looking for ways to lessen our ecological impact.  Look for more announcements on that topic in the near future regarding our new solar e-commerce initiative and a move towards certified Organic fabric with our Organic Flaxseed and Organic herbal neck pillows.
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