NO Palm Oil in our soaps | Palm oil free soap Emma's Soap • Handmade in Devon
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Emma has designed a soap that does not use palm oil (sodium palmate); the crop is used for a myriad of purposes from an ingredient in food products to engine lubricants and is a base for 99.9% of all cosmetic products. It is reported that 50% of all consumer products are made with palm oil, the US demand for this oil has tripled in the last 5 years.

Plantations now cover millions of hectares across Asia due to the crop's unparalleled productivity. Simply put, oil palm is the most productive oil seed in the world. A single hectare of oil palm may yield 5,000 kilograms of crude oil.

The world’s lungs are being destroyed and monocultures planted in their place. The Indonesian rainforest is being decimated at an alarming rate, it is estimated that by 2020 98% of the Indonesian rainforest will have been destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations. Indonesia is now the third biggest climate polluter in the world from its deforestation with approximately 20 square miles of rainforest being cut down every day. 95 % of Borneo rainforest has been destroyed to grow oil palm and Malaysia is following the same path.

When the forest is cut down, for logging, the land is cleared by fire causing air pollution by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This leaves the fertile peaty forest floor exposed to the sun drying it out and releasing further carbon. It is estimated that 600 million tons of carbon escapes into the air each year from drained peat bogs alone. This is without considering soil erosion, sedimentation of rivers, herbicide and pesticide contamination etc.

Tropical rainforest provides a home for 70% of the world’s plants and animal species. In Indonesia of the 400 land mammals species, 15 are critically endangered and another 125 threatened. Of Malaysia 300 land mammals species, 6 are critically endangered and 41 threatened.
Environmentalists believe that western consumers are directly fuelling the destruction of the habitat and sensitive ecosystems of this area. The South East Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra are home to:

  • 13 primate species
  • 350 bird species
  • 150 reptile and amphibian species
  • 15,000 plant species
  • Sumatran rhinos – critically endangered with only 300 or less individuals
  • Sumatran tigers – critically endangered with just 400 left
  • Orangutans – an orangutan only gives birth every 6-10 years making them the world’s slowest breeding animal. It is predicted they will be extinct in the wild by 2022 if deforestation continues.
  • Clouded leopards
  • Asian tapirs
  • Asian elephants – 30,000 remaining in the wild. Whilst this number may seem high,they are rarely seen in numbers needed to sustain future populations.
  • Thousands of other species
  • Human communities living in the forest

Oil palm plantations, along with logging, fires, and other factors, destroy rainforest habitat, hinder migration patterns and block travel corridors. Roads and plantations fragment the rainforest, facilitating encroaching settlements and make animals vunerable to illegal hunting and poaching. If animals enter plantations while searching for food outside the rainforest, they may be killed by workers. They are also at risk when plantation companies set forest fires to clear land for oil palm; some fires burn out of control, demolishing much larger areas than anticipated.
According to the United Nations, out of 216 million people in Indonesia, it is estimated that 100 million depend on the forest and its natural resources goods and services. Forests are the source of most staple foods and many modern medicines. Whether it is to gather materials to provide shelter and housing or fishing from the rivers and gathering food, the people have developed a relationship with the environment that is sustainable. Consequently, resources are managed in ways that ensure the people's needs are met while at the same time protecting the environment.
A secondary result of the loss of habitat is that the animals are forced into areas of human settlement, usually resulting in their death. In 2003 Sumatran palm oil workers caught 7 tigers; in 2004 6 wild elephants were poisoned when they entered a plantation. Elephant attacks on human settlements doubled in Indonesia in just 6 years.


Emma’s Soap has pledged and adopted Michelle an Orangutan, Matilda an Asian Elephant and Imogen a wild Sumatran Tiger. By making a small contribution to organisations trying to protect these species.

With the huge damage caused by palm oil Emma was disappointed to discover that as there is no Material Identity Card (MIC) scheme in place to trace the raw material of palm oil from its origins and through all the refining processes, it is impossible to know exactly which plantations the oil has originated from. The industries involved do not provide any tracking of the origin of palm oil, in most cases suppliers and purchasers do not know anything about the oils origin, questioning the certainty of sustainable palm oil.
There is no argument that there are resulting employment opportunities from plantation development. These are valuable and important, but it is argued that any development must be done at a pace and scale and in such a way that plantations and refineries add to communities, not replacing them. Wholesale replacement of ecosystems and cultures, while providing short-term corporate gain, leaves the environment and the people that depend on it ultimately poorer.
Everyone can do their part to prevent further loss of these important rainforests and peat swamps by simply avoiding palm oil products. There is an argument that boycotting palm oil products will not actually save the forest, but Emma believes one less product not using this oil is a contribution and the power is in the consumer.