July 27

5 Reasons “Sustainable Palm Oil” is Just Marketing


Many tourists who come underprepared for the summer rains in Ireland are unaware that Ireland used to be home to a vast temperate rainforest. It is difficult to picture forests from the Cliffs of Moher to Dublin City, but that was the Irish landscape before agriculture and deforestation destroyed Ireland’s forests. 

Now Ireland’s deforestation has left the country with sprawling verdant fields that now produce livestock that are renowned all across the world. 

Deforestation is still widespread in other areas and especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, where palm oil plantations are leading the destruction.

You may have seen palm oil in processed foods, but it is often a core ingredient in chemical soaps and skincare products. Unfortunately, even vegan and “all-natural” skincare products justify using palm oil by saying it is certified “sustainable.”

These “sustainable” endorsements of palm oil are just marketing tricks to make people feel warm and fuzzy around their purchase. A recent study revealed the extent of the green-washing. 

It shocked me to discover that “Palm-oil forests certified as sustainable are being destroyed faster than non-certified land, experts have found, in a study they say blows the lid on any claims that the oil can be destruction-free.”

“Plantations with eco-friendly endorsements have lost 38 per cent of their forest cover since 2007, while non-certified areas have lost 34 per cent, according to researchers from Purdue University in the US state of Indiana.”


The reason why sustainable palm oil is just greenwashing marketing propaganda comes down to 5 reasons: 

1. Lack of Stringent Standards:

One of the key criticisms of sustainable palm oil lies in the lax criteria used to certify products. Many certification bodies often set minimal requirements, allowing companies to continue with harmful practices while still obtaining a “sustainable” label. Critics argue that these certifications fail to address the core issues of deforestation, land grabbing, and human rights violations, rendering the sustainability claims meaningless.

2. Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss:

The expansion of palm oil plantations, even under the guise of sustainability, remains a significant driver of deforestation. While some certified plantations might adhere to specific guidelines, they are often located on land cleared of valuable rainforests. This leads to biodiversity loss and endangering species like orangutans, tigers, and elephants.

3. Impact on Indigenous Communities:

Sustainable palm oil certifications frequently fall short in considering the rights and livelihoods of indigenous communities. Many plantations continue to displace local populations and exploit vulnerable communities, leading to social and economic injustices undermining true sustainability.

4. Greenwashing and Corporate Image:

For corporations, promoting sustainable palm oil can serve as a public relations tactic to improve their image without substantially changing their practices. Greenwashing can mislead consumers into believing they support environmentally responsible companies, while the reality remains destructive.

5. Supply Chain Complexity:

The palm oil supply chain is complex and often includes multiple intermediaries, making it challenging to trace the origin of the palm oil used in products. Consequently, sustainable claims might only be partially accurate, as it is difficult to verify the sustainability of the entire supply chain.

Sorry to burst your bubble

Just because something is Vegan doesn’t mean it’s sustainable, and the prevalence of “sustainable palm oil” is proof of this. Instead of using imported palm oil, we want to keep as much of our products as local as possible. So, NAMAWE products use, instead, beef tallow which comes from Irish grass-fed cows. Instead of letting it become methane in landfills, we turn it into the most hydrating skincare product.  

Now, it isn’t as if we discovered something new – not at all. Long before Palmolive soaps, the Irish made all their soap out of repurposed fat from cows, pigs, or sheep. 

We make our products return to these traditional methods because they are time-tested. Somehow we lost our way and became distracted by chemical products when the natural fats create soaps that are far better than those made with palm oil.

How do we avoid the possibility of purchasing skincare products that cause deforestation?

Look for local, handmade products sourcing fats from local sources.


natural skincare, sustainability, tallow

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