Green Science: The Problems With Palm Oil

I just found out where palm oil comes from.

And that palm oil production is a contentious, multifaceted problem.

I don’t eat much processed or packaged food. I’m mostly outside the junk and boxed food conversation.

Maybe that’s why palm oil wasn’t on my radar.

I never thought about where it comes from, how it’s produced, and most importantly, that it’s in many, many more products than I would have imagined.

(In the UK about 40% of manufactured food contains palm oil.)

I didn’t realize that palm oil has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere happens to be largely Indonesian plantations where carbon-sequestering, primate-dwelling rain forests used to grow.

Four palm oil problems:

1. Deforestation, with resultant CO2 emissions

2. Habitat destruction, with resultant impact on threatened species, including Orangutans.

3. Pervasive presence in processed foods, with resultant pressure to produce more and more.

4. Social justice issues with displacement of indigenous peoples.

Here are three articles from the past 5 years that talk about palm oil and its problems:


January 6, 2007 Palm Oil: A Rainforest in Your Shopping Cart

July 6, 2009 Rainforest Destroying Palm Oil Hiding in Far More Products Than Previously Thought

May 2, 2012: Palm Oil Even Worse For Deforestation, Emissions Than Thought

Now that I am aware of this issue, I will read labels more more carefully and keep learning about how palm oil sourcing and production can be made more sustainable.







Green Business: Why We Don’t Buy Green and Why We Should

Green marketing is just marketing.

I am fascinated by what activates each of us to make meaningful lasting change in our lives.

And by the shopping choices we make to support those changes.

If green marketing can play a role in helping Americans make buying choices that are healthier for themselves, their families and the planet, I’m all in.

So, how’re we doing?

A new Ipsos survey on green shopping shows, no surprise, that people don’t buy things that cost more and might not work as well.


Big Surprise: Most People Don’t Buy Green Products If They Cost More

So then what’s behind these results? Writ old-school, let’s start with the customers’ objections:

7 Reasons Why We Don’t Shop Green

1. Cost: They cost more up-front

2. Perceived Effectiveness: They think green products don’t work as well

3. Fear of Change: Don’t want to try something new

4. Status: Attachment to a certain brand or product feature (scrubbing bubbles! mountain fresh scent!)

5. Short-term mindset/Small-view perspective: “What happens in my home/yard stays in my home. My actions don’t impact others or the environment.”

6. Irrational defiance: “I know that fast food is bad for me but it is my right to buy it when I want it.”

7. Absence of urgency: “There’s plenty of water coming out of my tap so there really isn’t a need to conserve.”

8. Impatience: “I want the bathroom spotless in 5 minutes.”


4 Reasons Why We Should Shop Green

1. Personal health and safety

2. Belief in a better tomorrow

3. Concern for our neighbors, near and far

4. Positive feedback from longer-term gratification


I believe that our dominant American culture values short-term quick results over better long-term outcomes.

I also believe we can change this conversation for the greener.

What are your reasons for shopping green, or not?


Green Business: Kraft Packaging Gets Greener

Lighter, more environmentally friendly packaging costs less to transport, creates less trash and eliminates harmful materials like BPA.


Kraft Shaves 1oz from Kenco Coffee Jar

Packaging firm PI has created a jar for coffee brand Kenco that uses 28 g (1 oz) less glass than its predecessor.

The redesigned jar will be used on Kenco’s pure soluble line and incorporates redesigned elements such as corner chamfers and the “regal” closure from the previous jar.

The jar and cap were modeled in 3D and have been designed to increase label size and shelf standout for the product line that features 100 percent sustainably sourced beans.

PI also tried to create a visual link between the primary pack and its refill to assist consumer understanding of usage, and promote the use of less environmentally-damaging refill packs.

Kenco is a subsidiary of Kraft UK, whose parent company Kraft Foods has been on something of a sustainable packaging drive recently.

In April, Sonoco created a jar for Kraft peanut brand Planters that weighs 84 percent less than its predecessor. The packaging replaces Planters’ 16oz. and 20oz. glass peanut jars. It is made of 100 percent recyclable, BPA-free plastic and requires 25 percent fewer trucks for transportation than the old jars, Planters says.

Green Government: NY–Use Less Energy. Save Money. Create Jobs

Another reason I Love NY.

Decrease energy consumption. Save money. Create jobs.

Works for me.


NY State to Reduce Energy Consumption 20% by 2016

The state of New York will invest $800 million in government buildings to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2016.

To finance the projects, the New York Power Authority will issue debt, which will retrofit state buildings ($450 million) and local government, schools and public hospitals ($350 million).

Retrofits will not only decrease energy demand, but will create thousands of green jobs, keep money circulating in the local economy, and free up resources for essential services.