By Lauren Garrick Keyes
The Scary Side of Halloween Candy
Halloween is all about having a scary good time. We all love to hang up our frightening decorations and go to spooky haunted houses, but there is one scary thing about Halloween that isn’t so fun: the palm oil crisis.
You may have heard before that palm oil isn’t great, or read somewhere that palm oil is damaging rainforests and putting the lives of orangutans at risk. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of just how many things we use and consume daily contain palm oil – a major one being candy. When most of us go to buy Halloween candy, we hardly read all the ingredients listed. Surprisingly, a large part of the Halloween candy that is sold contains palm oil.
Millions of acres of rainforest are cut down yearly to plant and then harvest palm oil. This deforestation endangers the animals that live in the rainforest, primarily orangutans which are already on the critically endangered species list. As more of our rainforests are cut down, the more at risk the orangutans are for going extinct. Some other animals that are at risk due to palm oil are the Sumatran Tiger, the Sumatran Rhino, and the Sun Bear.
According to World Wildlife Fund, about 300 football fields of rainforest are destroyed hourly to be able to plant palm oil. In 2013, palm oil plantations took up 40.6 million acres (larger than the state of Georgia!) and this number is only growing. Not only does this affect the animals living in the rainforest, but it also contributes to climate change. When the rainforests are cleared, carbon dioxide is released into the air, and this CO2 is the leading cause of global warming. Palm oil is also primarily grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, and in 2009, Indonesia was found to be the seventh-largest emitter of global warming pollution and the deforestation that occurs here contributed to 30% of these emissions.
How Can You Help?
The number one thing we can do is to not purchase items that have palm oil in them, or to only buy products that use sustainable palm oil. If you find a product that has an RSPO label on it, that means it was made using sustainable palm oil. To receive this certification, the plantation that the palm oil was grown on has to meet certain criteria. Mainly, they do not cut down rainforests and only use land that does not require clearing to plant the palm oil. They also do not harm wildlife that may happen to enter the palm oil plantation. Keep in mind that palm oil isn’t only found in candy, but is in a variety of products like bread and other foods, toothpaste, shampoo, cosmetics, and more.
BK Adventure’s Palm Oil Free Halloween!
On October 30th and October 31st, BK Adventure will be giving out palm oil free Halloween candy on all of our tours. Join us and get some candy that is kind to our orangutans and our environment, like Snickers, M&M’s and Starbursts (& more!) For your own guide to buying candy with either no palm oil or sustainable palm oil, check out this infographic by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: http://www.cmzoo.org/docs/2018-HalloweenCandyGuide2018.pdf