Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Update on toothpaste

The work goes on. Despite my little tantrum yesterday, my dear husband has made me see the positive side of continuing my crusade. He says I have gone at it as I do pretty much everything at a gallop and it was inevitable that I would have to slow to a bit of a canter else I'd just drive myself crazy.

The trouble is, when I'm in gallop mode, that's when I'm at my most productive and creative. Anyway, when it comes to palm oil, I'm going to be taking it a bit slower so I can get on with the rest of my life at the same time.

The big summer busy period is slowing rapidly and so I should have a bit of time for next few weeks.

I'm still on the toothpaste trail at the moment. I got a response to my initial enquiry from Colgate-Palmolive. They say that they use palm oil in Palmolive Shave Stick and in Palmolive Bar Soaps but they have not answered my specific enquiry about whether any of the ingredients in their toothpaste are derived from palm oil. So I've written back asking them about the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate listed on their ingredients list - SLS can be derived from coconut oil as well as palm oil so I've written to them again asking for clarification.

They go on to state that the palm oil they use is sourced from Malaysia and they state they only buy "raw materials sourced from responsible farmers in a responsible nation". If only this were true. In my reply to Colgate-Palmolive, I've made the following points which pretty much sum up my position:

Concerning the point you make that palm oil is an important resource to rural communities, you make no mention of the Penan people being forced out of the forest which has provided them with shelter and food for generations, living in harmony with the forest in a totally sustainable manner.

This very week, the Penan people are protesting against logging and palm oil plantations in five locations in northern Sarawak and in interior Suai in the Niah district south of Miri. If the Malaysian Government and your supplier are doing all that you say about ensuring palm oil is produced in a sustainable and responsible manner, why are the Penan people still at odds with Malaysia’s government and logging/palm oil plantations? After loggers have finished their work, palm oil companies move in and therefore the same palm oil that is creating jobs is also destroying the livelihoods of the nomadic peoples, wiping out any benefit - and all this is quite aside from the fact that wildlife habitat is also disappearing. The palm oil industry cannot wring its hands and say it is the loggers fault, without logging they could not grow their palm oil trees.

Big thanks to Laura's blog where she mentions Milka chocolate - the manufacturers, Kraft, confirm that this chocolate does not contain palm oil and so that's another source for any chocoholiques (along with the Co-Op's fair trade chocolate). At last - some good news! :-)

Kraft confirm that some of their products do contain palm oil and - most unusually - have helpfully provided me with a list so I can avoid those:

  • Dairylea Dunkers Baked Crisp
  • Kraft Singles Cheese Slices
  • Philadelphia Splendips Nachos
  • Oreo Biscuits
  • Mikado Biscuits
  • Ritz Biscuits
  • Kenco Cappio Cappuccino
  • Kenco Cappio Caffe Latte
  • Maxwell House CafĂ© Latte
  • Maxwell House Cappuccino

I commend Kraft's transparency and openness and thank them for providing this information. Only Weetabix have shown the same level of integrity.

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