We don't use palm oil, right?
This morning I came across a CBC Marketplace article on the pervasive use of palm oil and its links to deforestation in sensitive areas, as well as other environmental concerns. I know that palm oil has been a concern for a while so we never used it at Hipbees. After all, thoughtful use of ingredients and sustainability is our thing.
Our most popular products are oil based: our face serum Groovy Glow™ and our solid oil cleanser Pore Hustler™ are almost exclusively oils. I am confident there is no palm in there. We specifically use hemp seed oil in all our products, it has great performance and is a better environmental alternative than other plant oils, such as palm.
It is good to see an article on sustainability in cosmetics so I read on. In the article they list a dozen potential palm oil derivatives, some are very common ingredients. Then I saw it, glycerin. Well, glycerin can be derived from all kinds of plants and animals, anyone remember the film Fight Club? We use a tiny amount of glycerin (1%) in our whipped body butter, Touch and Glow™. But we use vegetable glycerin, palm isn’t a vegetable… is it?
A quick search confirms it is not! Palm or Elaeis guineensis, is a fruit bearing tree, the fruit and its seeds or kernels are used to make oil products. But wait, “vegetable” is pretty vague. I mean if my kids ask what I’m making for dinner and I tell them “vegetable”, that is hardly a satisfactory answer! What vegetable(s)?
Back to the documentation. Glycerin is the only ingredient in our vegetable glycerin. The jug and its contents are transparent, but not its source. The origin gives a hint, while the company who sold it is Canadian on closer inspection it originated in Malaysia. According to WWF, Indonesia and Malaysia make up 85% of the global supply. After an hour or so of sleuthing on Malaysian exports and common alternative glycerin sources it is clear, Malaysia makes a lot of palm oil. Palm oil is their number 3 export at USD$10B. Only about 3% of that palm oil goes directly to North America, but on close inspection North America takes over 21% of the glycerin produced by Malaysia. I guess North Americans are gluttons for glycerin.
After talking it over with the team, while we’re not 100% sure our glycerin is palm derived and we only use it in one product and only at 1%, we still think we can do better.
We commit to stop using palm oil derivatives today, to find a better alternative in the coming weeks and to be Palm Free in 2023.