E very kid wants yummy, sticky, sugary candy at Halloween – but not at the expense of Asian elephants, orangutans, tigers, and hornbills, who need a healthy place to live and thrive. But both can happen if you choose your Halloween candy wisely.

The culprit is palm oil. Chances are you consume it every day, but don’t realize it. But it is used in half of the products on an average supermarket shelf, according to John Buchanan of Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. Globally, it makes up 38% of edible oils.

And, yes, it is used in many candy and snack items. It’s also in shampoo, lipsticks, skin lotions, toothpaste, and much more.

Unfortunately, the boom in palm oil production has resulted in deforestation of critical habitats of Asian wildlife. Huge areas in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, and now Africa, are being clear-cut to plant palms for this lucrative market.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Millions of acres of previously cleared or “degraded” land can be used for palm oil production. No more forests need to be cut down. “Palm oil itself isn’t the enemy — it’s where and how it’s grown that we need to change,” says Buchanan.

He also sits on the board of governors of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which has set sustainability standards for the palm oil industry.

Unfortunately, the boom in palm oil production has resulted in deforestation of critical habitats of Asian wildlife. Huge areas in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, and now Africa, are being clear-cut to plant palms for this lucrative market.

The companies listed on this flyer are RSPO members and have committed to using certified sustainable palm oil. Please support these companies, which are doing their best to make a difference for elephants, orangutans, hornbills and other Asian species.

That choice sends a powerful message to companies—one that says you care about the environment and everything in it.

Any products made by Nestle, Mars, ConAgra, Nabisco, PepsiCo (Frito-Lay), Hershey’s, Wal-mart, and Kraft Foods, even if not listed on the flier, are good choices as they are all RSPO members.

Here at the Zoo, we ensure that all the candy distributed at Boo at the Zoo is either free of palm oil, or made by RSPO members.

Is the palm oil industry sustainable? “Not yet, but it’s heading in the right direction,” says Buchanan. “There are good things happening in the palm oil sector, and consumers should support those leading the charge.”

Selecting Halloween treats made with sustainable palm oil is an easy way to start.

How You Can Help
  • Don’t see your favorite brand or snack on the list? Download the FREE Palm Oil Shopping Guide app at the Google Play Store or at the App Store and see if they are part of the RSPO.
  • If your favorite snack or company isn’t listed, take action by writing a letter and ask the company to join the RSPO and commit to using certified sustainable palm oil. For a sample letter and more information on how you can make a difference for Asian elephants and other animals, visit www.sbzoo.org/ele or http://www.cmzoo.org/index.php/conservation-matters/palm-oil-crisis/.
Julia McHugh

About Julia McHugh

Julia McHugh, APR, is the Zoo's Director of Public Relations.

SANTA BARBARA ZOO
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