The Problem with Palm Oil

Shampoo and my hair just don’t get along.

This is a recent enmity. In my twenties and early thirties my hair looked good no matter what shampoo I used.

I don’t think I should give you the details about how my hair has been coming out in clumps since the baby was born or about how greasy it looks no matter the shampoo, but suffice it to say that my once thick hair has become so uncooperative that it would probably be better if I just made it into dreds.

I’ve tried the no ‘poo approach espoused by Beth Terry and also used by Frugal Kiwi with less-than-positive results (maybe I didn’t wait long enough for my scalp to stop producing so much oil?); I’ve tried the natural shampoos from the Co-op, which you can buy in bulk for cheap without unnecessary packaging; and I’ve retried conventional shampoos that contain toxic ingredients including malodorous perfumes and endocrine disruptors.

Now I’m trying bar shampoo. Shaped like a bar of soap, this shampoo contains olive oil, coconut oil, goat’s milk, hempseed oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, honey, rosemary essential oil, and grapefruit seed extract.

I am hoping my hair will befriend it.

But I also bought it because the package is made of recycled paper (and can be recycled) and because the soap is called S.O.S. Save the Orangutan Soap.

I love orangutans.

I didn’t know that their habitat is being threatened by palm oil plantations.

Or that over 80 percent of orangutan habitat has been lost in the last twenty years.

According to Orangutan Foundation International:

The destruction and fragmentation of tropical rain forests, particularly lowland forests, in Borneo and northern Sumatra, is the main reason orangutans are threatened. The main cause of this destruction is human activity: intensive legal and illegal logging, conversion to agricultural lands, mining, settlements, and road construction. However, the main threat to wild orangutans is the clearing of forest for the establishment of timber estates and palm oil plantations, usually by fire. Additionally, the illegal animal trade has been one factor in the decline of wild orangutan populations. Orangutans are still occasionally hunted and eaten by aboriginal peoples in Borneo and also by some migrants.

We share on the order of 97 percent of our DNA with these messy haired orange apes.

This morning when I woke the kids up for school I told them I was worried about orangutans. My two daughters are both vegetarians because they care about animals and want to stop suffering.

“But, Mom, pretty soon you won’t be able to do anything or use anything or eat anything!” My 11-year-old cried.

“I’m never using soap with palm oil in it again,” my 9-year-old said.

Maybe if we care enough, and try hard enough, and teach our children well enough, we can stop hurting other animal species. And maybe in the process I’ll get my hair to cooperate too.

Are you worried about the ingredients in the beauty products you use? Are you worried about the orangutans? Do you have a favorite shampoo? Have you ever tried the “no ‘poo” technique?

Read more: The Oil for Ape Scandal: how palm oil is threatening the orangutan


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on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 3:31 pm and is filed under overpopulation.
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