Palm oil as a whole is a decent ingredient, both for the inside and outside of your body. The ingredient can be found in multiple things such as cereal, soap, baked goods, and even cosmetics. You might not always recognize it though; sometimes it comes under the name of “vegetable” oil in your products which has faced scrutiny for being misleading.

From palm oil, you get vitamins A & E which are good for skin and fatty acids. It is not only a good ingredient to cook with, but can keep your skin moisturized which is why so many skin care companies have been using. Unfortunately, all of that good stuff comes with a price. As Summar noted last year, high demand has meant that slash/burn and deforestation in areas like Indonesia and Malaysia have been taking place to cultivate the trees. This endeavor has left animals without homes, disrupted vast ecosystems and on top of that, poured emissions in to the air from all of the construction in the area.

Now, you have two choices if you want to help save the rain forest. The first would be to hop off of the palm oil bandwagon entirely, which has been a step that some companies have taken.  Or, you can you follow companies that follow GreenPalm . GreenPalm was created in 2006 to help producers, who are using sustainable and responsible guidelines, be rewarded. These guidelines come from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which includes initiatives such as preventing the destruction of rainforest, promoting certified palm oil, gaining the locals peoples consent before making any changes to the land, and much more.

Palm oil producers who work in a “sustainable and responsible” way are able to earn certificates. They can then sell these certificates to those (cosmetic companies for example) that need to use their product through a trading program which both parties can sign up for. The payment for these certificates end up going back to the producer as a bonus, all in all, it’s pays to do the right thing in this case. It’s all in hopes that more producers of palm oil will be enticed into using sustainable methods of producing and harvesting rather than going into the rainforest with big bulldozers and little disregard.

The most recent company to sign on with GreenPalm is the giant beauty manufacturer Avon; they will begin purchasing certificates in July 2011. We can only hope Avon’s latest green move will have a trickle down effect on where the beauty industry gets their palm oil from. Still, there are those who are strongly against the cultivation of palm oil and believe that nothing can justify these palm oil plantations and that harvesting palm oil cannot be sustainable.

What are your thoughts about palm oil, would you use products containing palm oil which are GreenPalm certified or is it less of a concern to you where/how palm oil gets into your products.