Published on: October 5, 2020
By Monique van Wijnbergen
Palm oil is an ingredient as widespread as it is controversial. Found in products like food, cosmetics, soap, and even detergent, it is a hot topic among those concerned with the environment, animal welfare, and food justice. In the media, there has been a lot of attention on palm oil, especially for the downside of its production. Images of forest and wildlife habitat destruction make us think we’d better stay away from it. But that is not the full story. Done right palm oil can be one of the most sustainable oils in the world, supporting people, communities, and the environment, and enhancing the quality and performance of the food, personal care, and household products we use on a daily basis.
Growing Palm Differently: 100% Organic & Sustainable
When Dutch entrepreneur Alfons van der Aa, founder, and CEO of Natural Habitats, embarked on his organic palm oil journey he was convinced that palm oil could be grown differently. That is, grown in a way that ensures everyone can benefit from the many advantages that palm oil has to offer. With that idea in mind, he founded Natural Habitats and committed to creating positive change in a contentious sector.
Alfons owned a small plantation in Ecuador and was looking to make an impact through organic palm growing. To bring his vision to scale, it was clear he needed to work with local conventional oil palm growers and convert them to organic practices rather than simply buying more land as other producers often did. He also understood that he had to convince manufacturers to replace conventional palm oil and choose organic, responsibly grown palm oil for their brands. This shift, on both ends of the supply chain, was the solution to eradicate the bad practices and exploitation that were so widespread in the sector. He said, “I had two goals. First, to find a faster way to scale sustainable practices and second, to create impact by converting conventional farmers and showing them a new model for growing palm oil. This new model is organic, sustainable, and fair, benefitting farmers, their communities, and the environment which they depend upon.” Thus began his vision for Palm Done Right, a movement initiated by Natural Habitats and dedicated to leading positive change in the palm oil industry. A growing number of farmers, brands, and retailers have joined the movement since its inception.
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Palm can be grown for good, bringing benefits to:
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