The Culprits

The search for palm oil

Mrs. Going Green here – hi! Today Mr. GG and I went on a hunt. We searched every nook and cranny of our home, determined to find all of the products containing palm oil. If you read our last post, you likely remember that our challenge for the month of January is to reduce the amount of products that we use containing palm oil by 75%. To our surprise, most of the products that we use on a daily basis do not contain the target ingredient. It seems that the less processed foods you eat, the less palm oil there is lurking in the shadows…However, we did learn a few very surprising things as we tediously read the ingredients on each and every product in our home.

The goal

Determine which products/brands around the home use palm oil, and which of those products should be replaced with more sustainable alternatives. This process was easier than we anticipated. Plus, if you are a neat freak like yours truly, it was a sneaky way of getting Mr. GG to clean out and reorganize those crowded cabinets! To begin a search of your own, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Don’t let the packaging fool you. Palm Oil possesses many aliases including…Glyceryl, Sodium laureth sulfate, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Vegetable oil, and Stearate. Find a full list here.
  2. Palm Oil is not the enemy – unsustainable production is. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Palmolive-Colgate are dedicated to buying palm oil from sustainable farms that do not cause harm to the environment. So, do not just throw away every product that contains the ingredient. Websites such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have created user friendly search engines. Simply type in the product or company name and discover which brands are most reliable. Click here to get started.

We found the culprits and decided which ones we could live without in order to meet our 75% goal. With some patience, research, and about 2 hours of your time, you too can take this small step to help preserve vital forests and wildlife.

There’s palm oil in THAT?

A shocking revelation / What the hell have I been eating?

Apparently, palm oil is hiding in many of the products that we use and consume every day: Ice cream, bread, toothpaste, detergent, lipstick (crap!)…To our delight, most of the items in our refrigerator were safe. Mr. Going Green can hold onto his ranch dressing, and I can snack on organic peanut butter and carrots until I turn orange. The biggest offenders (not surprisingly) are soap products including detergents and hand soaps. Sodium laureth sulfate, or palm oil, is used in these products because of its ability to remove dirt and oil (WWF, 2017). An easy way to help the cause is to look for products that are produced by companies that have joined in the fight against the illegal production of palm oil (see #2 above).

What surprised me the most about our search was the number of unrecognizable ingredients that are listed in so many of the products that we use! Now, I’m a smart lady. I knew that these ingredients were there – BUT – I had never taken the time to actually read the labels. I found myself overwhelmed by the plethora of random, ostentatious terms: azodicarbonomides (huh?), refined grains (as opposed to unrefined?), L-cysteine (sounds like something that should be in my toothpaste, not my bread)… That’s when I thought to myself, “What the HELL have I been eating?” After only one day of this challenge, I already feel changed – more in control of my health and more aware of how we, as a couple and a team, can have a positive impact on our environment, and our bodies!

Try it for yourself! You might be surprised by what you learn (and how much you are capable of).


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