Did you know that the world’s orangutan population has declined by more than 50 percent since 1992? And did you know that this decline is largely due to loss of habitat, notably for the development of palm oil plantations? Because of our hunger for luxury items like baked goods and cosmetics, the loss of pristine rainforest continues to rise. Even Starbucks, a company known (perhaps surprisingly) for it social activism, continues to purchase oil from unsustainable sources, at the cost of countless plant and animal species. Some companies have said they will change some time in the future, but when will “later” become “too late”?
And if you need more convincing, just listen to these voices from the next generation of conservationists! In this short film, join young Abi and Bryce as they begin their journey to Seattle, Washington, and the headquarters of Starbucks to deliver their message to the coffee king in person: stop using unsustainable palm oil, or we will stop going to your shops. They know a company like Starbucks can do better, and they’re hoping to make an impact on their travels by spreading the word and getting people to sign their petition to celebrate World Orangutan Day on August 19.
This month, in honor of World Orangutan Day, Izilwane–Voices for Biodiversity is joining the campaign against Americans’ hunger for environmentally destructive palm oil. The majority of palm oil production – 80 percent – occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia, where roughly 50 percent of the original forest cover has been replaced with palm oil plantations, leading to the quickest declines in biodiversity anywhere on the globe.
Every hour, an area the size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared for the production of oil palms, often in the form of monocropping. Some producers have made significant efforts to move toward sustainable farms, and some companies have switched to sustainable sources; however, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) says consumers are purchasing only half of the sustainably-produced palm oil being manufactured. With this obvious surplus in goods, why do companies like Starbucks continue to use unsustainable oils in their products, contributing to loss of orangutan and elephant habitat?
As consumers and lovers of coffee, one thing we can do is say “No Thank You” to Starbucks. If you love orangutans and elephants more than pastries, then pass on the pastries until Starbucks changes their recipes to exclude unsustainable palm oil. Decimation of the rainforest is catastrophic for local and indigenous peoples, animals, plants, and, in particular, orangutans and elephants. If you want your voice to be heard, please consider signing this petition asking the coffee giant to make the right choice.
– Kathryn Pardo and Paula Pebsworth
If you, too, are interested in becoming an eco-reporter with Izilwane—Voices for Biodiversity, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.