Palm Oil Statement
At Shower Blocks we know just how contentious an issue Palm Oil has been over the last few years.
Historically palm oil production has been responsible for a significant amount of deforestation in some of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Habitats of many animals have been destroyed, with the Orangutans perhaps being the most widely covered. The loss of those forests also contributes to the growing carbon problem, contributing to climate change, and creates a work environment that creates and exploitation of workers and even child labour.
That’s a huge list of reasons as to why there has been such a swell of voices against Palm Oil’s usage around the world. It’s been a global problem, not just a western problem.
In 2004 the WWF were part of a group leading to the creation of the RSPO (Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil).
The RSPO has created a production standard that creates the best practices for the manufacture, sourcing and distribution of palm oil globally. The outcome of this is the creation of numerous sustainable palm tree farms, creating a circular economy in those areas. There is no deforestation associated with RSPO certified farming operations with many of those operations doing further work to develop and give back to the communities in which they operate.
Why though, if palm oil has been so bad, do we not just use other types of oil in their place? As a consumer that would feel like the most logical solution. It’s something that isn’t quite that simple though. Palm oil has properties that other oils do not possess for the manufacture of both cosmetic and food products and is why 35% of total vegetable oil usage worldwide is from palm oil.
In reference to soap products, palm oil is extremely high in palmitic acid, a fatty acid that is key in creating a hard bar of soap. Other oils can contribute to a hard bar of soap (for example castile soaps are solely made of olive oil and are very hard), however the high palmitic acid content in palm oil actually leads to a longer lasting bar of soap too. This is where as a business we start to compose the question on what the right thing to do actually is. A longer lasting product also means a product that is using up less resources overall.
Palm oil is also extremely efficient on land. Compared to olive oil, palm oil yields 5 x more oil per hectare. In soap making, coconut is probably the closest, and yields only half what palm does. This isn’t a close race with a small margin of victory. The result of a high yield operation is one that contributes positively to sustainability, also logically leads to a far more effective cost price.
An ingredient that both makes our product last longer than the alternative, and also yields significantly more per hectare logically makes a lot of sense, and whilst a tough decision, is one I feel is the right decision.
At Shower Blocks we have a number of key pillars on which we stand.
Our core mission sits around sustainability and is to replace shower gels to remove plastic bottles from circulation where possible. To do this we must compete on value. We’re extremely proud to have been able to produce a product that lasts around twice the length of an every-day shower gel product. Our price per wash is around the same value without using chemical detergents. Our soap base is 100% natural (in fact only our colours and fragrances contain any non-naturally derived ingredients). Without palm oil as an ingredient we would not have been able to achieve this.
Secondly, we formed the business with the sole view of giving something back to the local community for every product bought. We’re proud to have built that into the business model by partnering with Toiletries Amnesty from the get go, and we’re extremely grateful that they’ve allowed us to work so closely with them. The better we do, the more we’re able to give back. Being able to do something like this and make it scalable hinges around being able to make the right product. Palm oil is key for us to achieve our goals.
Our commitment is that we will only ever use RSPO certified Palm oil. It’s imperative that we monitor our suppliers to ensure that certifications are constantly in place to ensure we contribute positively.
Not only that, as with all our ingredients, we commit to being open and transparent around our sourcing. You can see where we source each and every ingredient from in our Ingredient blog pages.
If you have any questions or comments surrounding our usage of palm oil, packaging or other elements of Shower Blocks that you think we could do better, please get in touch with us with your ideas.