Palm Oil Causes Deforestation and Species Loss

Orangutans are tragically being driven to extinction due to the overuse of palm oil, which can be found in many common household cleaners.  Ancient rainforests, which form the natural habitat for orangutans and many other endangered species, are being burned to make room for palm oil agriculture.  The word “orangutan” is Malay for “person of the forest.”  If all the rainforests are destroyed, so will all the orangutans.

Can Palm Oil Be Sustainable?  No.

Despite the presence of so-called sustainable certifications, palm oil is never sustainable.  The destruction of rainforests to create palm oil plantations can never be sustainable, and labels designed to market palm oil products as being “sustainable” are mostly self-auditing and serve only the interests of palm oil growers.  Growing palm oil is the reason so many infant and juvenile orangutans are orphaned each year.  We want to help!  Not only does Butlers Brand exclude palm oil products from our solutions, we enjoy supporting worthy organizations that rescue and rehabilitate these amazing “persons of the forest.”

When Butlers Brand decided to adopt Megaloman by providing funds to Orangutan Outreach for his rehabilitation, he was one of the youngest infants to arrive at the baby house of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP). Though he has since advanced to the medium-age social unit, he is still very much a baby. Because orangutan babies depend on their mothers to teach them everything about surviving in the wild, it is always alarming to see an infant orangutan orphaned so young. Sadly, this is a common phenomenon because of the common practice of destroying rainforests to create palm oil plantations.

Megaloman has made the entire Butlers Brand family very proud, and the funds provided to Orangutan Outreach through his adoption turned out to be an excellent investment. Through such funding, the SOCP baby house has increased its capacity and enrichment programs, which have allowed Megaloman to accelerate beyond his age group. Through playtime and various enrichment activities, Megaloman found an affinity with juvenile orangutans who are a little bit older than he is. His new group of friends seem to have spent less time in human care and have strong wild instincts. Happily, Megaloman has become one of them, and he is learning from them how to be wild himself!

This is exactly the time of behavior that indicates an orangutan will be successfully rehabilitated back into the wild. Even though he’s only three, Megaloman is a candidate for 2017 forest training school. We know he will do well, and feel very proud that our contribution helped give SOCP the resources to develop a highly effective baby house for the increasing number of orphans they take in each year. You can follow the SOCP baby house here and see for yourself the humane and excellent work they do.

Pingky is a thirteen-year-old female who was rescued through the support of Orangutan Outreach from an imprisoned life as a pet, kept chained to a tree in a small back yard. She is being cared for by International Animal Rescue Ketapang, which was the first organization to establish a care center in the western interior of Kalimantan dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release to the wild of orangutans displaced by palm oil agriculture. Because she is an older orangutan who has spent most of her life in captivity, Pingky’s arrival at the Ketapang care center was worrisome. It was unclear whether she could ever learn the necessary survival skills to be released into the wild, and she arrived with multiple medical problems that had been neglected during her captivity.

Supporting Orangutan Outreach has been especially rewarding for Butlers Brand because of Pingky. Adopting Pingky provided the funds for veterinary attention, food, and shelter. Since Pingky is unlikely to be released in the wild anytime soon, her stay at the International Animal Rescue Ketapang is expected to be protracted and costly. It has been our great pleasure to read updates from Orangutan Outreach about Pingky’s successful dental surgery, that she has progressed to the large socialization units reserved for other adult orangutans, and that she seems to be happy.

What has been especially meaningful for Butlers Brand has been the knowledge that Pingky has a home. Even though a lifetime on a chain has removed her from her wilder instincts, we were thrilled to learn that Pingky, through the incredible work of Orangutan Outreach, has adapted very well to arboreal life, and spends the majority of her time at the top of her enclosure, where she likes to take in the views.

Little Oscarina, like so many other infant orangutans, came into the care of International Animal Rescue Ketapang as an illegal pet. Sadly, palm oil plantations regard orangutans as pests, and often shoot them. Because orangutans are among the animal kingdom’s best mothers and carry their babies with them for several years, infant orangutans are also often present when such tragic conflicts occur. The babies are typically sold into the illegal pet trade, and it’s from exactly such a fate that Oscarina was rescued.  

Supporting Orangutan Outreach has proven rewarding for many reasons, but especially when we follow our “adopted” orangutans on their paths towards independence. Forest school taught Oscarina many important survival skills, such as foraging. Oscarina was one of the few orangutans in her rescue group to figure out that the tips of leaves are edible. Because orangutans build nests to shelter them from predators and the elements while they sleep in the trees, forest school gives them the opportunity to build and improve the nests their mothers would have otherwise taught them how to build.

As of Spring 2016, Oscarina has been on the Pak Ali island, sleeping in the forests at night. Orangutans are adapted to living in trees, and so it is critically important for rehabilitated orangutans to learn to make the forest their home. Oscarina has been seen exploring the forest canopy, and is apparently getting very good at making her nests. She sometimes uses old nests as a foundation and then adds fresh leaves to make them better.  Through building her nests higher in the forest canopy, she has demonstrated the independence and arboreal instincts that are required before an orangutan will be considered for release into the wild. If our donation to Orangutan Outreach made it possible for one of these beautiful creatures to return to the wild, Butlers Brand is thrilled with our investment!

Cycle for survival

At Butlers Brand, we are keenly aware of the cancer causing agents found in many leading house cleaning products and take pride in excluding these chemicals in our formulas. However, our efforts to fight cancer do not stop there. This past March, the Butlers Brand team was proud to support Cycle for Survival at the Graybar Equinox.  We care about supporting cancer research as much as we care about removing carcinogens and other toxins from our homes.  The spinning might be over, but we will continue to root for everybody battling cancer.