Palm oil is a popular ingredient in products like bar soap and cosmetics, thanks to its antioxidants and vitamin E properties. Derived from the pulp of oil palms fruit, its use has been criticized for its potential role in deforestation, which endangers plants and animal species.
To ensure Tom’s of Maine products meet the company’s rigorous Stewardship guidelines, it’s collaborating with the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit, to conserve biodiversity and promote human rights. Currently, Tom’s of Maine’s bar soaps are Rainforest Alliance Certified™
Good Matters talks with Nicole Pasricha from the Rainforest Alliance and Chris Murphy of Tom’s of Maine about how companies and their consumers can get involved in the development of sustainable ingredients.
The Importance of Sustainability
The Rainforest Alliance works with businesses and customers to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use and consumer behavior. They work to bring responsibly produced goods and services to shoppers globally.
“The majority of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, historically a lot of that land was converted from a primary rainforest,” says Pasricha, who detailed the importance of rainforests in relation to the world’s ecosystems. “Rainforests are critical to the climate for capturing carbon. When a tropical rainforest is cut, the carbon released is higher than annual emissions of some small countries and the global biodiversity that lives in rainforests is vast. Failing to protect these areas means habitats of certain species are taken away, we won’t ever get those back.”
Partnering with the Rainforest Alliance on sustainably produced palm oil in Tom’s bar soap, Murphy says was pretty much a no-brainer. “Because of the great work the Rainforest Alliance has done in other product categories, like coffee beans, their reputation preceded them,” he says. “When the opportunity came up to use the ‘Rainforest Alliance Certified™’ ingredients, it allowed us to make significant strides toward improving on the sustainability mission of our business. This allows the company to further its overall goal to offer natural, sustainable products for families.”
A Caring Consumer
“We feel like consumers play a really important role,” says Pasricha. “They can do that by choosing products carefully. For us that means looking for the Rainforest Alliance seal of approval on products that might contain palm oil, palm kernel oil, or its derivatives.”
Do you look for the Rainforest Alliance seal on products?
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.