Thursday, 26 November 2009

A little more of a positive response from S C Johnson

S C Johnson have replied to my enquiries about whether the following products in my cleaning cupboard contain palm oil or palm oil derivitives:
  • Mr Muscle Window & Glass
  • Pledge Dust and Protect Wood Classic
  • Pledge Soapy Wood cleaner
  • Pledge Springtime Furniture Polish
  • Pledge with orange oil liquid
(Gosh, I do use alot of Pledge don't I, anyone would think I spend all day long polishing things ...!) Anyway, here's what they said:

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch with us . It is very difficult to be certain about whether or not some of SC Johnson's ingredients originate from Palm Oil. SC Johnson tries to ensure that its suppliers do not use unsustainable sources of any ingredient, but the details of each specific ingredient are difficult to obtain.

A search has been initiated to try and answer specifically your enquiry, but this could take a couple of weeks to conduct. Once we have found out the answer, we will be in touch again. Thank you again for your email .

I have thanked them and said I look forward to receiving their further reply.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

My response to Unilever

Many thanks for your reply, I agree that traceability must be a difficult problem that faces RSPO. However, I am avoiding palm oil all together as I don't believe sustainable palm oil is going to address the problem in sufficient time to save the Orangutans and other wildlife from losing vast tracts of their habitat. I only asked you about two products:

Domestos Bleach
Cif Lemon Cleaning Product

I can't understand why it is so difficult for you to say "Yes, these products contain palm oil (or palm oil derivatives)" or "No, these products do not contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives".

I am not asking for trade secrets here, food manufacturers are only too happy to tell me yes or no. Please can you explain why you cannot be more transparent on this issue?

Household cleaning items

I wrote to a few of the suppliers of the household cleaning items I routinely use at home a couple of days ago. The first response is from Unilever. I only use two of their products:
  1. Cif Lemon Cream Cleaner
  2. Domestos Bleach
Palm Oil is an ingredient which is used in many food products, toiletry and cosmetic products. Due to our broad portfolio and scale of business, Unilever is the world's largest user of palm oil.

Hence we are leading the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, a not-for-profit association set up to ensure that companies will be able to purchase certified sustainable palm oil as soon as possible. The challenge in finding an effective and long term solution is the problem of "traceability" (being able to trace every palm kernel back to the plantation which grew it). This is complex in an extended supply chain where there are many thousands of growers - both large and small.

Unfortunately, due to the brands and number of products that Unilever produces, we are unable to provide the generic ingredient details that you are asking for. We are nevertheless committing to traceability in our European supply chain for straight palm oil by 2012.

I hope this has reassured you about the use of palm oil in our products, and I will pass your comments on to our Product Development team. We welcome all consumer feedback - both positive and negative - as it helps us to improve our products and policies, so thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us.

I understand why traceability is going to be a difficult problem but I can't see why it is so hard for them to provide me with a "yes, we use palm oil in those products" or "no, we don't use palm oil in those products".

Friday, 20 November 2009

Response from Tesco regarding fuel

I have received a response from Tesco about what percentage of their fuel is made up of palm oil. In the same e-mail I also told them I was switching all my on-line shopping to Sainsbury's but they haven't replied about that.

Using this as a base, I can now write to other fuel suppliers to see if they can be any more precise about how much palm oil is in their petrol/diesel. This might be one area that I can't avoid palm oil. I don't drive anywhere myself but I do get a lift to my market stall every Saturday in a diesel car and of course, all the delivery vehicles bringing items to me for my business, my groceries, on-line shopping etc. all use fuel so I can't absolve myself of responsibility in this area. There may be one supplier that's better than the others so I'll see if I can find out which ... Anyway, here's what Tesco say about their fuel

Thank you for your patience

I received the following response this morning regarding the usage of Palm Oil in our bio fuels regrettably, they've not given me a percentage figure.

In 2005 we decided to sell biofuels as we believed that they could help customers reduce their carbon footprint and decrease our use of fossil fuels. Since then, EU legislation has made 5% biofuel obligatory in regular fuels.

We do use some palm oil in the production of our biofuels. However, we are continually seeking to reduce the amount of palm oil we use by supplementing it with other vegetable oils, such as waste tallow.

All major fuel companies are also members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and are committed to sustainably sourcing palm oil used in biofuels.
Greenergy (, which supplies almost 50% of our fuel requirements, has been praised for its work in developing biofuel sustainability criteria and audit programmes.

I appreciate that this will not have been the answer you hoped for and I'm sorry that I can't get you a more detailed response. I do hope this information will be of some help to you.

Friday, 13 November 2009

New palm oil free lunch!

Remember Nigella Lawson's programme quite a while ago about good food fast called Nigella Express? Well, her book was £25 when it first came out and I baulked at the cost but it's down to £9 in WH Smith now. On Saturday, I bought the Times and it had a voucher to buy the book for a fiver (one day only) so I hot-footed it into Smiths in Cambridge to buy this marvellous bargain.

It has loads of recipes I think I'll be giving a go; the first one I tried was a ripe avocado, mashed with 2 teaspoons lime juice and seasoning to taste. I's very green! Nigella spreads hers on sourdough bread but it's equally good on bread from my new breadmaker and also, it's a great topping for Ryevita which is my standby lunch when I've no bread. I've had it twice now; hope Nigella won't mind me repeating the recipe here but I am giving her book a plug at the same time! :-)


In response to an appeal on Nature Alert, I have written to Mars as below. Please note before clicking the link, Nature Alert contains some very upsetting content and unvarnished truths. Tonight, BBC3 is repeating a programme Britains Really Disgusting Food Diary which highlights Mars' uncaring attitude towards the use of palm oil in its products. You can also view it on I-Player here, if you want to fast-forward to the bit about palm oil, it's at 32.00 (about half way through the programme). My e-mail outlines why I am annoyed with Mars.

I am trying to live palm oil free having discovered the devastation to rainforest habitats being created by palm oil growers. I used to regularly purchase products made by Mars but after seeing some of your products list Vegetable Oil/Fat as an ingredient (usually a euphemism for palm oil), I stopped.

If you have a list of your products which are free of palm oil (or palm oil derivatives), I would find this most helpful.

Additionally, after viewing the BBC programme, Britain's Really Disgusting Food Dairy, I am shocked that your target to be using sustainable palm oil is 2015 at a time when many companies are bringing forward theirs to much earlier. Whilst I am advocating a zero tolerance towards palm oil myself, I recognise that sustainable sources are a first step in erradicating this pernicious ingredient from the consumer supply chain and Mars MUST do more to preserve what little rainforest is left to the orangutans and other wildlife.

If you are similarly as cross about Mars as I am, please write to them using Mars contact form on their website.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

New tap

I've had a new tap fitted in my kitchen this morning. To enable the plumber to get to the pipes, I had to remove all the items under the sink. The contents of this cupboard represent my entire stock of household cleaning items. It was therefore an opportune time to make a list of the products along with the name of the manufacturer. When I get this typed into a Word table, I'll be able to sort the multitude of items by manufacturer and then write one letter about all the items I buy to each company and ask them if any contain palm oil/palm oil derivatives.

Will keep you posted!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Holding response from Tesco

I wrote another e-mail to Tesco last week letting them know that I am switching all my on-line purchases to Sainsbury's and also enquiring why they hadn't yet responded about what the 5% bio fuel component of their diesel and petrol is made from. Here is their reply:

I'm very sorry that I've not yet received a reply to your query. Please let me assure you that I've not forgotten about this and I have escalated the matter again on your behalf. As soon as I receive I will be in contact again and I do appreciate your patience on this matter.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sainsbury's - yay!

When you're ordering groceries on-line, there's this lovely feature called your Favourites List. Every time you order something, it gets automatically added to your FL. After you've done a few shops, pretty much everything you buy regularly from the supermarket is on it and then shopping is really easy, you just go through the list ordering anything you've run out of. It used to take me 20 minutes with Tesco once I'd given the cupboards and fridge a once over.

As I said in a previous blog entry, I'm ditching Tesco and am currently going through the pain of shopping on-line at Sainsbury's without the benefit of an FL. The order took nearly two hours to do because my favourites list is in its infancy.

So far, the things I've discovered I've forgotten are limes, loo roll, onions, cashew nuts and rice. But hopefully, we'll get there in the end.

I was just waiting to see whether the Sainsbury's order arrived safely before telling Tesco why I'm now shopping elsewhere and chasing them for a reply about their fuel. I'll let you know when/if I receive a reply.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Toothpaste update

Had a reply from Colgate-Palmolive today, who say:
Thank you for contacting us again with your question. Your interest in our Company and our products is greatly appreciated. We are happy to have the oportunity to assist you. Colgate Toothpaste does not contain palm oil or any ingredients that have been derived from it. Than you for taking time etc. blah blah

Why couldn't they just say that when I wrote the first time??!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

World Wildlife Fund publish palm oil buyers scorecard

The World Wildlife Fund has recently published its Palm Oil Scorecard for European companies, you can download it from this page of WWF website. As Sainsbury's is scoring so much better than Tesco, I am switching all my on-line shopping to Sainsbury's

I have also recently read, on a very recently discovered fellow palm oil avoider's blog, that Sainsbury's appear to have a similar honest labelling policy as the Co-Op when it comes to palm oil in their own-brand ranges.

Since starting this non-palm oil buying malarky, I find that my list of things that I buy from the supermarket is dwindling on pretty much a weekly basis but it's so much easier to get them to deliver things like wine (heavy) and loo roll and all the other things I don't want to cart back from the shops. As I live such a distance away (without a car) it makes more sense environmentally that they deliver it whilst they're on their round and uses far less fuel per customer.