The El Paso Zoo has launched a mobile application (app) designed to help people make the right choice when shopping for groceries and personal care products. Palm oil production is killing orangutans, elephants and other endangered animals around the world as their tropical rainforest habitat is destroyed by expanding palm oil plantations, the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries.
The FREE Palm Oil Guide and Scanner app, sponsored by the El Paso Zoological Society, will help consumers in the United States find out what products contain palm oil so that they can make an informed decision, purchasing a product containing palm oil or a similar product without palm oil.
The current palm oil crisis is a consumer driven problem. About 50 percent of the goods we use every day including food products, cosmetics and detergents, contain palm oil. Palm oil has the highest yield of any oil crop and is the cheapest vegetable oil to produce and refine. The world’s consumption is doubling every 10 years. A 2007 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report identified palm oil plantations as the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In launching the new mobile app, the El Paso Zoo is offering a new tool to get the attention of companies around the world that produce and use palm oil in their products. There is a sustainable palm oil marketing movement, but there are flaws or limits with the way the sustainability is measured and tracked.
The palm oil industry provides jobs for thousands of people, but like many other profit making enterprises that degrade the environment, ultimately the consumer can decide what industries profit and what industries do not. With the development of the Palm Oil Guide & Scanner, the Zoo encourages people to do something about the palm oil crisis rather than do nothing.
The future of the ecosystem and all the services it provides in sustaining human life depends largely on the actions of consumers. Until sustainable (non-destructive) palm oil that is 100% traceable is available to the consumer, the Palm Guide Oil Guide & Scanner app will help raise awareness and get more attention to this expanding global threat. When governments and corporations fail to provide solutions to environmental problems, this app and similar tools that will undoubtedly be developed in the future, will help consumers speak out with their wallets.
The Mobile App is available on iTunes for iPhones and other iOS devices and on Googleplay for android users.