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An app saving animals from extinction

IMG 6389Have you heard of palm oil? If you’ve ever read the list of ingredients on the food you eat, you’ve probably seen “palm oil” a few hundred times. It’s not just in food, though. Palm oil is in about half of our household products, including shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics. Even pet food has palm oil in it.

Why is it found in so many places? It’s cheap, at least compared with the other oils. But in another way, it’s very costly. The African palm tree easily grows in the tropical temperatures and soils of places such as Malaysia and Sumatra, right in the middle of critically endangered animals’ rainforest habitats.

In an effort to produce more and more palm oil, unsustainable farmers can clear rainforests for African palm plantations at the rate of 300 football fields every hour. At that rate, there won’t be any rainforest left, and there won’t be any habitats left for critically endangered species like orangutans and tigers, or for many other species such as wreathed hornbills and sun bears.

Fortunately, many companies have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil™ (RSPO) by making the switch to sustainable palm oil sources that don’t destroy rainforests, or Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). By being a savvy shopper, you can choose to support these companies.

How? Easy! All it takes is checking out the free Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide app created by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo! This app has lists of hundreds of companies rated by how orangutan-friendly they are – green-excellent, yellow-good or red-needs improvement.

The app makes it easy to do your homework. With Halloween a few days away, you can search for “Candy” to see all the products and companies that use palm oil, and whether they’re orangutan-friendly.

If you’re thinking of a specific candy, like “Sour Patch Kids,” you can just type that in and – hey, Mondelez International (which makes Sour Patch Kids, Triscuits, Trident and Stride gum, among other products) has an excellent sustainable palm oil rating. Go, Mondelez!

If you’re not as much of a homework person, the Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide app also has a barcode scanner you can use while you shop to quickly check on the items you’re thinking about buying.

On top of helping you shop, the app has a ton of information about palm oil, and it even allows you to reach out to companies directly to either show your support for using sustainable palm oil or show your disappointment that they’re still using unsustainable sources. If your bummed one of your favorite candies are in the red list, let the company know you care.

We hope you’ll check out the app, make a little tweak to your shopping style, and do your part to protect endangered animals and their habitats! Oh, and while you’re at it, make the switch to reusable cloth shopping bags to help cut down on those single-use plastic bags. Go green for a Happy Halloween!

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