28 Day Palm Oil Challenge

Text: Anna Plaszczyk, photos: Greenpeace

19 March 2017

"28 Day Palm Oil Challenge" is a concept to fight with the destruction of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests, that everyone can join. All you need is to implement a few simple rules to stop supporting financially this gigantic environmental disaster and at the same not to - contribute to the extinction of orangutans.

The campaign "28 Day Palm Oil Challenge" was invented by 17-year-old Thomas King from Melbourne. In 2010, he saw a documentary about the orangutans dying in the rainforests, being cut for the cultivation of palm oil. On his website,, he wrote: "After realizing that I and everybody around me was unknowingly contributing to deforestation, animal cruelty, human rights violations and immense atmospheric pollution every day, I decided to dedicate myself to doing all that I could towards raising awareness about the impacts of palm oil".

Thomas started with creation of the website. Nowadays on his side he has a lot of people and large organizations working to protect the environment. Today website is annually visited by over half a million people from 180 countries of the world. To better understand the situation, Thomas visited Borneo in 2011 and 2012. Now, he proposes everyone to join the fight to protect rainforests.

How to buy, and not to contribute to the tragedy of orangutans and other species inhabiting the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia? 28-day program free of palm oil will be divided into 4 sections: "Refrigerator", "Pantry", "Bathroom" and "Laundry Room". In each section small changes should be made, using the knowledge and tools that will help us to become more conscious consumers. The challenge is based on three principles.

Cut Down
By reducing the consumption level of certain products we can remove unethical palm oil from your life. "28 Day Palm Oil Challenge " will inform us which products contain this ingredient.

Swap It
There are products, which cannot be eliminated completely from our lives. But we can always find a more ethical and environmentally friendly alternative for them. They can be, for example, products containing palm oil from sustainable crop.

Try Something New
If we want to live better, more ethically, in harmony with nature – we should get rid of bad habits, replacing them with new, better ones. This could be, for example, preparing meals by yourself, instead of buying ready meals. It could also be buying local products – their transport does not pollute the environment as much as importing products across the world.

"28 Day Palm Oil Challenge" is to helps us find the "bad" products in our shop basket and replace them with things environmentally friendly. Today, Thomas King is trying to raise funds for his project. You can support him here: 28 Day Palm Oil Challenge. You can also virtually adopt one of the rescued orangutans from Borneo. For years, they find refuge in The Orangutan Project :

Before the "28 Day Palm Oil Challenge" will start – you can introduce the principle of the project to life. All you need to do is to check your everyday purchases. And you can change products containing palm oil to those "Palm Oil Free" mark. In cosmetics, you should avoid ingredients such as: Elaeis guineensis, palmitate, palmitoyl, palm. Ingredients that may or may not contain palm oil are: cetyl alcohol, isopropyl, sodium lauryl sulphate, steareths, fatty alcohol sulphates, glycerine, cocoa butter equivalent and cocoa butter substitute.

Palm oil in the food exists under the name "vegetable oil", and other time it is named E471 emulsifier used in the production of margarine. In chocolate alike products, palm oil will be hidden under the cover of the CBE and CBS group fats (cocoa butter substitute). It can also be palm olein or stearin.

Changes in thinking and acting of concerns concerning the usage of the palm oil are now becoming more and more visible. For nearly five years all soaps from British company Lush are free from it. Oriflame or Body Shop use palm oil coming from sustainable plantations in Colombia, however, the demand for certified oil also led to increased deforestation – this time in South America.

Palm oil, however, still can be found in one of the most well-known breakfast chocolate creams for children. In order not to support a cruelty with your own money – just read the label before buying product!