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Avoid Palm Oil

Have you heard of palm oil?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the African oil palm tree. It easily blends with other ingredients, acts as a preservative, and is tasteless. Palm oil is used for cooking, and is added to many products like soaps, cosmetics, ice cream, cookies, chocolate, and frozen meals. About half of all packaged goods sold in US or European grocery stores contain palm oil.

The problem with palm oil is that the tree that produces it can only grow in the same wet, low-lying areas as tropical rainforests. Sometimes called the "lungs of the Earth," rainforests are important to the environment because they take in large amounts of carbon dioxide and convert it to the oxygen we breathe. They also help prevent soil erosion, store water, and are hot spots for biodiversity. Indonesia and Malaysia produce the most palm oil. Those two countries, plus nearby China and India, are home to over half of the Earth’s animal species. Clearing rainforests to grow palm oil trees destroys critical habitat and has pushed some animals to the brink of extinction.

Your purchasing decisions matter!

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an international effort to promote sustainably grown palm oil. Instead of boycotting palm oil, the RSPO created product-labeling guidelines based on strict environmental, social and economic standards to help consumers know when a product contains palm oil that was sustainably grown and did not rely on clearing new forests. Many companies have switched to using certified sustainable palm oil in their products. When we choose to buy their products instead of products from companies that use unsustainably grown palm oil, we encourage other companies to switch as well.

Not only do many everyday products contain palm oil, sometimes it is listed under a completely different name on the ingredients label. As consumers, we can use our buying power to encourage companies to use only sustainable palm oil. To help us buy wisely, two AZA-accredited zoos have designed mobile apps to help us buy wisely.

You can download these apps at the following links:

Palm Oil Guide & Scanner App

Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide App

  • Tampa Bay City Pass
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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