It is very rare that you can commemorate such a superb piece of advertising, but when it comes to Iceland, they surely deserve a standing ovation. Instead of creating Christmas magic about how all the wonderful things they sell will make this year the most amazing ever, they have highlighted an extremely important world issue. Of course, the press coverage which has been released since plays hugely in Iceland’s favour showing great values and ethos, but it is the change in attitude and awareness that has engulfed us all about a fundamental ecosystem, the rainforests.
How do we really get palm oil?
Going back over half a century Borneo was covered by dense tropical and subtropical rainforests abundant in species diversity. Since the 80s the forests throughout Borneo started getting demolished at an alarming rate. Trees cut down for logging, areas burned and cleared for agriculture and the boom in palm oil trade took off. Today they are nearing completely wiping out the primary rainforests all together. It takes thousands of oil palm trees to meet the demand for chocolate, shampoo and many other products, so in order to meet demand there must be a compromise and in this case, it is the rainforests. Each oil palm tree requires three metres squared of space to grow.
Where do the orangutans go?
The rainforest is the home to orangutans and without it, they have no home. They are very protective about there homes too which is completely unsurprising. Imagine someone coming to your house with a bulldozer and saying that they are going to knock it down if you are in there or not. This is what is happening to the orangutans. If they won’t move out the way and come out of the trees, they just cut them down with them in the canopy. This doesn’t just cause unchangeable distress but kills innocent species which are simply going about their daily lives. Humans are the culprit and cause in all of this.
If we decided we didn’t need cheap chocolate or cheap shampoo, nice wooden furniture, the demand wouldn’t be there, and the rainforests would live on. It is much the fault of the demand as it is the people creating the products. Afterall if you needed a way to make money when you have nothing to support your family, surely you would go to all lengths to make the money you need. We are demanding palm oil, we are providing their trade.
How can we do our bit to help the problem?
Everything in life is a choice, the places we walk, the cars we drive to the food we eat. The choices which effect this issue the most are those made in the supermarket. Unfortunately, almost every shampoo product has palm oil in and they disguise this under various different names. The same goes for chocolate. The best way to reduce production is to reduce demand. Choose Fairtrade products and those which use sustainable palm oil where possible, but obviously the best way to help is to choose no palm oil at all. Every big issue can be solved starting with a small step. But it is about responsibility. If we all take responsibility to make a change, we can make a big difference.
Iceland have created the awareness in their powerful advert, however, this will only make a difference if we use this awareness and consciously make different choices to support the amazing campaign. Next time you go into a supermarket, take you time and look at what you are buying and see if you can make a better choice for the planet.
ARC Adventure are doing this in the choices which they make and within tourism choose to work with local people to support the economy. With all their Borneo sales they are also giving money to help protect orangutans and try and reduce the impact on rainforests. Simple steps to a big impact.