What are orangutans? ⊕
What is the problem with the palm oil industry? ⊕
How can I be a more sustainable consumer? ⊕
How did The Orangutan Gang get started? ⊕
Who is on the Orangutan Gang team? ⊕
What other organizations does The Orangutan Gang work with? ⊕
Where can I find The Orangutan Gang on social media? ⊕
Where can I donate to the Orangutan Gang? ⊕
Why can’t palm oil plantations grow somewhere else? ⊕
Why can’t rainforest grow somewhere else? ⊕
Why can’t orangutans live somewhere else? ⊕
Why can’t orangutans live on plantations? ⊕
Why should I avoid palm oil? ⊕
Why should I care about orangutans or the rainforest? ⊕
I found an ingredient that looks kind of like it might be palm oil, but I’m not sure whether it’s the same thing. What ingredients can be aliases for palm oil? ⊕
Is coconut oil the same thing as palm oil? ⊕
Why is palm oil used so often in grocery store products? ⊕
What will plantation workers do if the palm oil industry stops expanding? ⊕
I heard about a certified sustainable palm oil program. Is the certified palm oil actually sustainable? ⊕
How can I help spread the word about the palm oil issue? ⊕
Where can I learn more about the palm oil issue? ⊕
I have a question that isn’t on this page. How can I contact The Orangutan Gang and ask? ⊕
What are orangutans?
Orangutans are a critically endangered species of great ape found only in the rainforests of two small islands in Southeast Asia- Sumatra and Borneo. To learn more visit our Orangutans page.
What is the problem with the palm oil industry?
Palm oil is an efficient, mass produced crop that is grown mostly in the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. To learn more about the problems with palm oil, visit our Palm Oil Issue page.
How can I be a more sustainable consumer?
How did The Orangutan Gang get started?
Our founder, Gigi Finn, found out about the palm oil issue at a Davidson Young Scholar Summit in 2012. To learn more about Gigi and her continuing motivation, check out the Our Founder’s Story page.
Who is on the Orangutan Gang team?
Nuntiya Smith and Julie Ekhoff are some of our biggest Very Important Primates. To learn more about Nuntiya and Julie, check out our Team page.
What other organizations does The Orangutan Gang work with?
Some of our partners include Orangutan Foundation International, Zoo Boise, the Davidson Young Scholar Ambassador Program, and Jungleheroes. To learn more about these organizations, visit our Partners page.
Where can I find The Orangutan Gang on social media?
The Orangutan Gang has pages on Facebook and Instagram too! To hang with us, visit our Social Media page.
Where can I donate to the Orangutan Gang?
You can donate and buy Orangutan Gang merchandise on our Donations and Merchandise page. All of our profits go towards helping rehabilitate orphaned orangutans at the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine in Kalimantan Borneo.
Why aren’t palm oil plantations grown somewhere else?
They are, to a lesser degree. 85% of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the Rainforest Action Network. Southeast Asian climate is good for oil palm trees, though, and workers on palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia have a job and a home in the palm oil industry. (That’s not to say that those workers are happy, though; human rights abuses are frequent on many plantations!) However, your question is justified, as oil palm trees can grow in a wide variety of different climates, including street corners in Los Angeles!
Why can’t rainforest grow somewhere else?
Tropical rainforest, the particular type of ecosystem that palm oil plantations are replacing, is found in warm, wet, equatorial areas and has incredible biodiversity. In different areas, such as cold, dry, or far from the equator climates, a large number of the species in the threatened rainforest would not be able to survive. On the island of Borneo alone, there are over 80 endemic (unique to Borneo) bird and mammal species, and many more endemic species of other types, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Why can’t orangutans live somewhere else?
Orangutans are very dependent on their environment, and their specialized, primarily vegetarian diet (although they are known to eat insects and sometimes even slow lorises) has impacts on regions they inhabit; fruit availability has been shown to correlate with orangutan population density, which means that more orangutans generally live in regions with higher fruit availability than regions with lower fruit availability, according to the Orangutan Foundation International. Orangutans also need to build sleeping nests nightly, which can sometimes be located more than 50 feet off of the ground, heights that would be very difficult to reach in a more temperate forest.
Why can’t orangutans live on plantations?
Most palm oil plantations are monocrops, rows upon rows of oil palm trees stretching into the distance. Orangutans, with their varied diet and nesting behavior, don’t have the food or supplies that they need to survive on a plantation. These plantations are also often sprayed with herbicides and pesticides that kill off any insects or young plants that an orangutan would eat; on some plantations, even orangutans are regarded as pests, and sometimes adult orangutans are killed for food or poaching, while babies are separated from their mothers and sold to the illegal pet trade, where nine-tenths of them will be inadequately cared for and die as a result.
Why should I avoid palm oil?
If the palm oil issue gains enough momentum and followers, companies that use palm oil might be looking at a financial hard hit. This might cause these companies to check out alternatives to palm oil, like algae oil, and possibly change their palm oil policies for the better. Large companies would deal a blow on palm oil traders, whose industry would shrink, and lower palm oil demand would cause actual plantation owners to stop expanding quite as fast. In turn, this means that orangutan habitat isn’t shrinking as fast, and as more companies switch to sustainable alternatives, the palm oil industry would stop growing entirely.
Why should I care about orangutans or the rainforest?
First of all, orangutans are some of humans’ closest evolutionary relatives, and it’s not so well known that in some areas they are actually smarter than our closer relatives like chimpanzees and gorillas. Orangutans commonly use tools, both in the wild and in captivity, and have been known to communicate through learning and using sign language. Orangutan mothers raise their babies for seven to eight years of quality childhood, in which babies learn everything from what foods taste best to sleeping nest how-to. In addition, when rainforest is burned for palm oil plantations, massive amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, driving global warming on an ever-increasing scale.
I found an ingredient that looks kind of like it might be palm oil, but I’m not sure whether it’s the same thing. What ingredients can be aliases for palm oil?
Most aliases for palm oil contain the groups of letters “palm”, “laur”, “cetyl”, “glyc”, “stear”, or “olei”; some exceptions are cetearyl alcohol and elaeis guineensis oil. If your ingredient is really obscure, there’s a very in-depth comprehensive list at Travel For Difference.
Is coconut oil the same thing as palm oil?
No. Palm oil is harvested from the fruits of the oil palm tree, not from coconuts.
Why is palm oil used so often in grocery store products?
First of all, palm oil is a high-yield crop. It produces a lot more oil than other oil crops, and as a bonus, it’s trans fat free, which allows food companies that use palm oil to brag about their low in trans fat products. Finally, palm oil is cheap. Because of its immense production rates and high yield, palm oil isn’t as expensive as other oils that could be used in its place. But, we have to ask, is that high yield, low cost, and no trans fat oil worth the extinction of fascinating species in the rainforest that is being mercilessly destroyed?
What will plantation workers do if the palm oil industry stops expanding?
Plantation workers can get sustainable, earth-friendly jobs in wildlife rehabilitation, ecotourism, rainforest restoration, or national parks. Plus, they’ll be able to escape the human rights violations on some plantations!
I heard about a certified sustainable palm oil program. Is the certified palm oil actually sustainable?
There are several different “sustainable” palm oil programs, and none of them fully prohibit rainforest destruction. The most common is the RSPO, or Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Under RSPO regulations, palm oil producers are able to destroy as much rainforest as they want for plantations, as long as the rainforest isn’t primary or HCV (high conservation value). The line between primary/HCV and secondary/non-HCV is blurred, though, and sometimes rainforest that is actually really important to a particular species will get listed under secondary and destroyed. Whether you accept RSPO certified oil as sustainable is up to you, but here at the Orangutan Gang, we try to find companies that are 100% palm oil and palm derivative free.
Another certification program is called GreenPalm; products with a GreenPalm label are moving toward RSPO certified oil, and the label is no guarantee that the products use any sustainable oil at all. This can be deceiving since the GreenPalm label reads “GreenPalm Sustainability”!
How can I help spread the word about the palm oil issue?
You can help spread the word by explaining to friends about the palm oil issue, passing out our Orangutan Gang Flyers or Orangutan Gang Halloween Postcards, or letting your local school district know about our palm oil lesson plan.
Where can I learn more about the palm oil issue?
You can learn more about the palm oil issue on websites like Orangutan Foundation International, Rainforest Rescue, Rainforest Action Network, Jungleheroes, Orangutan Outreach, and Orangutan Conservancy. If you are part of a nonprofit focused on the palm oil issue, let us know and we’ll add you to our list.
I have a question that isn’t on this page. How can I contact The Orangutan Gang and ask?
You can contact us through our Contact page or by emailing us at email@example.com. Thank you and have a palm oil free day!