Save Orangutans like Alex by Making Sustainable Candy Choices this Halloween

Posted October 24, 2017

Co-authored by: Kristina Meek & Julianne Werts

Alex, our new female orangutan (Photo: Lisa Hubbard)
Alex, our new female orangutan (Photo: Lisa Hubbard)

Meet Alex, our new female orangutan, who lives in Jungle Trails. She came to us this year from Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Inquisitive and intelligent, Alex enjoys solving puzzles like how to get her favorite treats—celery, carrots, cucumber and walnuts—out of enrichment devices.

Palm fruit from which palm oil is made (Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank)
Palm fruit from which palm oil is made (Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank)

Around this time of year, we humans are also focused on our favorite treats, namely Halloween candy! And while you probably don’t expect vegetables to show up in your kids’ trick-or-treat bags, there is one that is well-represented in the form of palm oil, the world’s most popular vegetable oil.

Pick up the next candy wrapper you see—or for that matter, almost any packaged food—and you’ll probably see palm oil in the list of ingredients. It might go by a different name, including palm kernel oil, palm kernel stearin, PKs, palm kernel olein, or palmityl alcohol. But it’s usually there!

While palm oil itself is not bad, the agricultural practices for growing and harvesting palm for oil are often unsustainable, damaging habitats upon which orangutans, tigers, rhinos and other endangered wildlife rely.

The good news is that palm oil can be harvested responsibly. As we stock up on candy to hand out to all of the ghosts and goblins this Halloween, we can be eco-friendly consumers by only purchasing candy that is made from Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit organization that certifies palm oil plantations and mills as sustainable if they meet the criteria that “no primary forests or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.” Companies and organizations can join as members and pledge to get their palm oil from those that are certified by RSPO.

RSPO standards make it easier for consumers to make conscious choices. And the free Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping app makes it even easier by listing companies and products that are certified by RSPO. Simply download the app from Google Play or the App Store onto your phone, take it with you to the grocery store and consult it as you shop.

We’ve also created a handy guide to orangutan-friendly Halloween candy. These are the types of candy the Zoo gives out during HallZOOween, ensuring that all of our treats are made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

Have a safe, happy and orangutan-friendly Halloween! And click here for more tips on how to go Hall-o-GREEN.