Why I’m not boycotting palm oil this Christmas or ever.

It’s been awhile!  I’m a bad blogger.  But today I have felt inspired to share so here I am again.  It’s a long one so grab a brew and settle in…

So we’ve all seen the Iceland advert, if you haven’t well done for avoiding social media for the past week! The highly emotive cartoon features a baby Orang-utan whose rainforest home is being destroyed by human activity in order to produce palm oil.   The cartoon was actually produced by Greenpeace, which is the main reason why the Advertising Standards Agency decided to prevent the ad from being shown on TV. The advert dramatically highlights the devastating consequences the palm oil industry is having on wildlife habitats in Indonesia.  Because of this industry a shocking 270,000 hectares of rainforest is cleared annually to support the growing demand for this versatile commodity.

Facts tell stories sell…

Whilst I think we can all agree that this advert does an excellent job of drawing the publics attention to the problems with palm oil production, I’m going to attempt to assimilate a response that proves that not only is Iceland’s pledge to remove palm oil from all its own brand products a very tiny drop in a very large ocean, it’s actually extremely counter intuitive. The advert is highly emotive but hugely lacking in actual facts and information.   This leaves the viewer feeling upset and outraged but more importantly dangerously misinformed.

Before I explain why, I think its only fair to highlight the other issues that this advert fails to address. We simply cannot talk about deforestation in a meaningful and productive manner without doing so. The real problem here is not palm oil itself (palm oil is actually a very efficient and productive crop but more on this later), but the deforestation that is occurring in order to keep up with consumer demand. Palm oil is not the only commodity responsible for deforestation and it is certainly not the biggest contributor. Not by the long shot. There are only 4 commodities responsible for 99% of continued global deforestation and these are Animal Agriculture (namely cattle ranching), Soybean, Palm Oil and Timber.

Taking the lead in the Deforestation Olympics is by far the animal agriculture industry. In Latin America alone, 2.71 million hectares of tropical forest is cleared each year to make way ranching land for cattle. This is 5 times more than any other commodity in the region.

Unfortunately, cattle ranching land is only half the problem. The western worlds insatiable appetite for cheap meat means that a further 480,000 hectares of rainforest are cleared annually to make way for soy bean plantations. And before we go ahead and blame the vegans for their tofu addiction, only 6% of all soy beans produced globally end up being sold directly for human consumption, 75% will end up as feed for the animal agriculture industry (most soy imported to the UK is fed to chickens and pigs) and the rest as biofuel.

Deforestation for the production of timber products is much more complex, mostly because its difficult to get real figures on actual deforestation versus forest degradation but also because on the whole if done correctly, timber is a renewable commodity. If you want a rough figure, experts say timber production accounts for around 10% of deforestation globally.

So yes, palm oil IS a driver for deforestation but it’s certainly not the main driver, so why would Iceland (and Greenpeace) focus its attention on this commodity and overlook the worst offenders? Let’s just stick a pin in that for a little while…

So why can’t we boycott?

I think it was Kylie Minogue (or was it Sonja?) who put it best. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t! Ok I’m over simplifying massively here. The truth is boycotting palm oil would merely shift, rather than counter losses to our rainforests caused by palm oil production.

As I said earlier, palm oil plants are extremely efficient at producing oil. Compared to other oil producing plants such as rapeseed or soybeans, palm oil plants yield 4 to 10 times more oil per unit of land AND require far less pesticide and fertiliser. So if we pressure large companies to ditch the palm oil what will they use instead? Soy? As previously mentioned, soy is already a huge contributor to deforestation, a move away from palm to this more land hungry crop would be like cutting off Mother Earth’s nose to spite her lovely green face!

We have to be sensible here. The global demand for palm oil is not going to go away and I hope now you see why you shouldn’t necessarily want it to either. So what’s the answer? Luckily there are a few.

Consume Less

My favourite! This is literally the only real answer if you want to help stop deforestation. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. In general, the more processed your food is, the more likely it is to contain palm oil. Buy fresh whole food. And while you’re at it buy local. In terms of cosmetics, use what you have and get rid of your duplicates. Do you need 4 different moisturiser’s and 3 different shampoos? Didn’t think so.

Sustainable palm oil

Like I said, palm oil production isn’t going to disappear (certainly not overnight). Not only is this crop highly productive, we have to remember that the palm oil industry provides jobs and security for many families who may otherwise struggle to support themselves. By demanding that the palm oil in our products is certified we can ensure that palm oil is sourced in a sustainable and ethical manner.

Palm oil certification is spearheaded by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), who are leading the industry toward environmentally and socially responsible palm oil that doesn’t contribute to deforestation.

Currently only 20% of all palm oil produced is certified. There is very little incentive for producers to adjust their practices and seek certification whilst the discussion remains centred around boycotting the entire industry rather than supporting the use of certified sustainable palm oil.

There are already many large food and cosmetics brands that are investing in RSPO certified palm oil but fail to promote this practice, I suspect that this is because of the persistent negativity surrounding the use of any form of palm oil.

So what WAS the motive behind the Iceland campaign?

Was it to promote themselves as an eco conscious brand leader? Unfortunately the whole thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I fear that Iceland are using our heart-strings in order to position themselves as an innovator in matters of environmental sustainability and ethics when the reality is they are far from it.  A quick browse on their online shop will showcase frozen chicken sourced from Thailand and Ribeye steak from Brazil!  Not to mention the fact they are still working with brands who use unsustainable palm oil in their products.

So my message here?  Don’t let your emotions guide you when it comes to complex matters such as the environment and climate change.  Do your research.  Read labels. Buy less.  Buy local.  And support brands that care.

If you do want more info on deforestation this is a useful website.

If you want some more info on climate change then look here.

If you made it to here than Thank You for reading.  If you found this at all helpful I would really appreciate a comment or even a share.

Peace x

Back.

Its been a while.  I really don’t know where the last couple of months have disappeared to.  I’m hoping you guys have been wondering where I’ve been?  No?  Oh well…  I’m back and this time I mean business.

“This is happening NOW”

So I’m just gonna be honest with you.  I haven’t been writing because I’m petrified.  Not petrified of writing obviously, but petrified of the stuff I’m reading about in order to write.  I am astounded that we as a species have reached a place in our history where we are consuming the Earth’s resources faster than the Earth can reproduce them.  No other species can make that claim.  Aren’t we just a treat!?  Atmospheric CO2 hit a record high in 2016.  All this is happening NOW.  Not in sixty years.  Now.  Children alive today will start to experience the negative impact our mindless consumption is having on the planet.  Actually scrap that.  If you are alive today and reading this you have already witnessed, experienced or read about events that have happened or are happening as a direct result of climate change.

Is it just me or is this information just not being put out there?  Why isn’t this headline news?  Why isn’t this our number one priority as a species?  Why are we more concerned with Kim Kardashian’s latest weight loss tactics or the fact that Prince Harry is marrying a mixed race girl?  HELLO!!!!  This is kind of a big deal.  And yes…  I am disappointed that Harry has given up on trying to find and marry me but I’m also kinda pissed off that the media and Politicians are for the most part, pretending that climate change just isn’t happening.

Maybe its just me that feels this way.  But I’m pretty sure it isn’t.  Is it?  So anyway these discoveries have left me feeling pretty terrible.  What a sorry situation.  And what’s worse is I feel like there isn’t anything I can do.  Here I am walking about with my organic canvas shopper and my lovely metal water canister trying my hardest but am I making a difference?  What’s the point in even trying?

Who am I?

It was at this point that I gave myself a little talking to and reminded myself of who I was.  I’m someone who gives a shit.  A lot.  And I’m also someone who doesn’t like to fail.  And I’m someone who won’t take no for an answer.  So I’m back.  Yes I’m sad, yes I’m scared but in my world doing nothing and lying down to take a big nap while Michael Jackson’s Earth song plays out in front of me just isn’t an option.

When I started this sustainability experiment I genuinely had no idea it would bring me to where I am today.  I have been taken down the biggest longest most eye-opening rabbit hole.  In a matter of weeks my whole perspective on my former life has changed.  I am seeing the world we live in a completely different light.  Some of it good and some of it damn right scary.  I must admit, I have moments where I really wish I could just erase the things I’ve read, watched and ingested regarding climate change, consumerism and our wasteful society in general.  Life would be far easier.  Or would it?  When I think about it my life now is pretty much as it was except that I am awake.  I know what’s important to me and I’m living a life that is in line with my values and beliefs.  So why wouldn’t I want to live my life that way?  It really is a no brainer.

So there’s been some big changes at Lyndseystripped HQ.  Some of them somewhat controversial and some of them just plain common sense.  And luckily for you, they’re easy to do yourself.

Zero Waste Hero.

Becoming zero waste is something we have really made progress with.  We are by no means perfect but I feel like we’ve made small changes that have produced big gains.  We haven’t emptied our general waste kitchen bin for over a month!  Mostly it gets filled with sellophane food wrap.  My hatred for sellophane and food wrap in general has become very real.  I’m grateful to my boyfriend for humoring and supporting me despite my never-ending torrent of ideas, musings and wonderings about our landfill contribution and the environment.  One of which has revolutionised our storage of food waste.

“Keep it in the fridge.”

We’ve started storing it in the fridge.  Yes I appreciate that this sounds weird but is it really that weird?  Most of the food waste we produce was kept in the fridge before it became waste so why not put it back in there to keep it fresh until we get a pile big enough to warrant a trip down the garden to the compost tumbler?   I believe the reason lots of people avoid separating their food waste is because it smells and can attract flies.  If you keep it in the fridge (or freezer, which is where I would like to keep ours but it’s not big enough) its kept fresh and odour free.  See.  Not really that weird at all is it? 

We have also given up our water guzzling dishwasher and replaced it with a recycling station.  This sounds way more impressive than it actually is (it’s just a set of drawers under the work top where the dishwasher used to live that stores paper, glass, metal and plastic).  I believe the trick is to make recycling as easy and convenient as possible.  That way you’re more likely to stick to it.  Our recycling station does exactly that.  Everything has its place and the kitchen stays tidy.  Perfect.

Although our recycling game is pretty strong now, I’m very aware that recycling is not the complete solution.  Ultimately all plastic will end up in landfill because it is only ever downcycled once, twice if it’s very lucky.   So, reducing our consumption of plastic even further is high on the agenda for next year, and I’ve got some great posts coming up that will show you how easy this can be.  This post is largely a personal one and unlikely to be particularly advisory but, if you take one thing from this rambling make it this.  Recycling is a LAST RESORT.  Think Refuse, Reduce, Reuse THEN Recycle.

“Think Refuse, Reduce, Reuse THEN Recycle.”

I really want my little part of the internet to be positive and encouraging and not scary and authoritarian.  I realise that our habits are deeply personal and occur because of many different beliefs and experiences.  I’m really not here to preach about how we should all be living our lives.  It’s REALLY tempting to scare the shit out of you all with facts about how much plastic resides in our ocean (big up Mr Attenborough for finally discussing this issue on Blue Planet II), or about how much pollution your Zara haul produces, but I will resist (for now).  The truth is that whilst all those facts and figures are important I’m hopeful I can make sustainable living so very easy and attractive that I won’t need to bother you with the scary stuff.

So yes.  I’m back.  Please stay tuned for more posts about capsule wardrobes, zero waste inspo and other general sustainable goodness.

Peace.

 

The strip tease…

I want last week to be the LAST week that I did nothing about starting to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time.  Which means that this week HAS to be the week that I start.  So here I am.  Hi.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while.  Mostly because I’m a creative person without a creative outlet but also because recently I’ve made some changes in my life that I’m hoping will make the world a better place.

Or at least make a start…

Since I can remember I’ve taken an interest in environmental issues.  I remember being petrified to watch Michael Jackson’s Earth Song video because I thought it accurately depicted the events that would unfold when the Ozone layer finally gave up the ghost.  Although to be honest, the way things are looking right now, 11-year-old me probably isn’t far wrong.  Gulp.

Over the past 18 months I’ve been on a bit of a mission to be more conscious about my lifestyle habits and the impact they have on our planet, good old Mother Earth.  It started with my diet and now I (mostly) follow a Vegetarian/plant-based diet.  The good thing about this is that is also has lots of health benefits.  I’m going to post a separate blog about this later.

Once I became fairly happy with my diet I began to wonder about my other lifestyle choices and how I could make some positive changes towards a healthier and more sustainable planet.

Now I would say I’m a pretty normal, stereotypical female, (my friends and relatives may disagree, you can make your own mind up along the way), and by this I mean I love make up.  And I love beauty products.  And I LOVE fashion.  I love other things too obviously but this is a blog not a dating profile.

So the big question is…

Can I be sustainable, conscious and low impact without sacrificing my love of food, beauty and fashion???

I know.  It’s a big ask.  But I like a challenge!  And this blog will hold me accountable, force me to get a bit creative and hopefully inspire others to make some positive changes too.  Oh and I reckon we could all save a bit of money along the way too.  Bonus.

The good news is that people are already doing this!  I’ve been inspired by a couple of bloggers/writers who are already doing an amazing job of spreading the low impact, sustainable word in their own way.

Signe Hansen from the UselessWardrobe is a minimalist fashion blogger who has inspired me to start making more conscious choices when it comes to fashion.  She has helped me to realise that we can still follow our own style, enjoy shopping and be creative with clothes without harming the environment and our wallets.  She encourages her followers to adopt a fluid capsule wardrobe, shop for good quality items that are ethically sourced and if they’re also second-hand you’re winning at life.  Basically her motto is “Less is more”, and I’m inclined to agree.

basiccapsule
My basic capsule wardrobe, inspired by Useless wardrobe

Many of you have probably already heard about Nicola Graimes and her book The Part-time Vegetarian.  A good friend and fellow environment-conscious human recommended it not so long ago.  The thing I like most about this book is that it’s not smug.  There’s no “You should not eat that, if you do you’re a bad person”, or “Eating that steak will definitely end the world tomorrow” vibe.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Nicola opens the book by stating that after nearly thirty years of being 100% Veggie, she is now adding in small amounts of meat, poultry and fish into her diet.  I think this makes the book more accessible to new budding Vegetarian/Vegans, it shows us that you don’t have to

Be one or the other.

Its ok if you want to eat some meat now and again, but I’m pretty sure you won’t want to if you cook your veggies like Nicola does.  I can honestly say I’ve loved everything I’ve cooked from this book so far and it’s really helped me to see vegetables as the headliner instead of the supporting act.

IMG_9633
And its very pretty to look at. Which is nice.

This is probably a good place to stop and clarify a couple of things (and also I love a good list)…

  1.  I’m not an activist – simply put I’m not perfect.  This is a journey for me and I’m hoping to help you on yours.  I’m not here to preach or scare you all into never eating steak or buying clothes from unethical sources ever again.  We’re all human and we have ingrained habits that are hard to break.  I just want to rouse some consciousness.
  2. I’m not an expert – Not in this anyway.  I’m not planning on baffling you with facts and figures and making claims I can’t back up.  Again this is just my journey and a way of making myself accountable.
  3. This blog is an experiment – I’ve toyed with writing this blog for a while.  I deliberated over what I will write about, which topics I will tackle, what message I want to convey etc.  At first I thought I would just make it about food, or just make it about fashion, but the truth is I don’t really want it to JUST be about any of those things.  It’s about being more conscious about lifestyle choices.  Maybe that’s too vague, maybe it’s not.
  4. See.  Lists are great!

So there you go.  My first blog post.  Minimalist, low impact, environmentally conscious idealist with a love of food, beauty, and fashion.  Its hard trying to summarise what this project will entail as I’m not really sure myself,  I’ve never been one for planning.  Let’s just dive in and see what happens!

Enjoy!